Today, Jen Doll unpacked a study that shows the use of selfish, ego-driven pronouns like "me," "you" and "I" outpacing collective, inclusive pronouns like "we" and "us." In the comments section, one reader noted a potential source for the rise of "you" in contemporary fiction.
As John Capone posits:
You might attribute the rise of the second person to the influence of Bright Lights, Big City.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jay McInerney's novel about a young, self-destructive fact-checker running wild in New York, Bright Lights, Big City (1984) is written entirely in the second person. The book wasn't the first to address readers as "you," (Italo Calvino wrote half of If On a Winter's Night A Traveler in the second person a few years earlier), but it remains one of the most famous examples. Since its publication, many authors have experimented with second person narration, including Iain Banks in Complicity (1993) and Edouard Levé with Suicide (2008). Surely, you're not the type of person who can attribute the rise of "you" solely to this literary trend, but you find it interesting nonetheless.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.