Notes and Thoughts

Discursive working and evergreen notes


Use the first person instead of the second person

Note: preliminary, not settled

Recently a friend expressed a conviction that it would be better for me to own my thoughts and feelings by using language that expresses those thoughts and feelings as my own. In particular if I use second person hypotethicals, I'm distancing myself from my actual beliefs.

Compare these two statements:

  • You know how people sometimes distance themselves from what they're feeling? Like you express a series an emotion, but it's guarded behind several layers of indirection and hypotheticals? People should try to avoid doing that.
  • I dislike when people remove themselves from the conversation through the use of hypotheticals and indirection. Often I notice when I do that I'm not owning my experience.

The second statement is more direct and more honest. The first feels, to me, like I'm trying to sneak in my thoughts and opinions in an indirect manner, that I'm hiding within a thought experiment my true habits.

This is a tough habit to break - when writing this I had to remove several "you's" that seemd to magically appear. I also frequently engage in this type of second person language because I want to sneak in my true beliefs in a diplomatic, deft manner to avoid conflict. However I now believe it's good to have a bias towards radical transparency, and the language I use externally and internally should mirror that.

Related Open Questions:

How can I change the way I express myself?

To what extent should I bias either towards conflict or cooperation?