Slate’s Christopher Hitchens published a clever column today about how American society has latched onto the words “you” and “your” in much of its marketingspeak. And we in the media are guilty as charged too, now that we’re constantly asking people to send us “your” photos/video/sudio/stories/blog posts.
From the column:
The next time you see an ad, the odds are increasingly high that it will put “you” in the driver’s seat. “Ask your doctor if Prozac/Lipitor/Cialis is right for you“—almost as if these medications could be custom made for each individual consumer. A lawyer or real-estate agent will promise you to address “your” concerns. Probably the most famous propaganda effort of the 20th century, a recruiting poster with Lord Kitchener pointing directly outward and stating, “Your Country Needs YOU,” was only rushed onto the billboards when it suddenly became plain that the country concerned needed several hundred thousand recruits in a big hurry and couldn’t afford to be too choosy about who it was signing up.
In this age of citizen journalism, I suppose much of our talk has become “your” news Web site, “your” video, “Your” Live Breaking Action Night News Team. Surprisingly, the biggest coup for “you” was never mentioned — Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006.
Have we also moved into the era of “Me” and “My?” We have MySpace, My Yahoo!, Google My Maps, My Times, My LA Times, and so it goes. Pity Malaysia, whose domain name country code is “MY.” At this rate, we’ll have people signing up for domain names under Malaysia just so they can get the “my,” much like people make the journey to Christmas, FL to mail holiday cards or how sex shops try to set up their mailing addresses out of Intercourse, PA.
I wonder if we’ll look back at this era and chuckle at our vanity.