The Second Person

Posted on May 30, 2011 by


by Anthony Dean-Harris


Hey, you. Yes, you. I’m writing directly to you. I’m doing so because I’m attempting to establish a certain degree of comfort between you and I. Clearly, this won’t be seen as some sort of ham-handed attempt at sincerity. There’s a real connection here. I mean, come on, I’m a random person, likely on the other side of the planet.

We share a background, you and I. For one, we both have devices that access the internet. Clearly that means we’ve both traveled internationally or have the same kinds of friends who all read the same stuff and like the same bands or have the same jobs that just barely scrape by. Yes, this one defining characteristic of reading words on a screen means that we have all the necessary shared characteristics for me to feel so comfortable so as to directly address you.

It’s because of that comfort that I’ll divulge intimate details about myself and expect you to fully understand my meaning. I’ll be forthright and honest, or at least give the appearance of such frankness, and you will feel an instant connection to me. I mean, it’s clear that you’ll feel such a connection, I’m baring my soul over here and being conversational with you. The least you could do is accept what I say is true and implicitly understand what it is that I have to say despite how overwhelmingly wrong I could be or different my background may be from your own and thus give you an entirely different worldview. I mean, we’re friends, right? I’m directly addressing you in a public forum. That means something.

Let me advise you on issues you may or may not encounter in your life. My insights mean so much to you that you’ll of course take these pearls of wisdom to heart. Besides, I know you trust me, too, otherwise you wouldn’t permit me to speak so openly to you and advise you through all the twists and turns I know you’ll face in life. Also, I know you trust me because I’ve seen it all and I know better than you. That’s why I get to speak to you so comfortably. With astounding wisdom comes a comfort in speech that people like me get to exhibit.

Let me tell you a joke about this one time I was on a whale-watching expedition and the fool who didn’t know how to tie proper knots. It’s clearly implied that the inability to tie proper knots is what makes him a dilettante. You’ll get that joke, right? I mean, I told you the joke, directly to you at that, so I would naturally assume that you know what I mean, right? It’s not presumptuous to believe you know how to tie proper knots, is it? I didn’t backhandedly insult you because you weren’t in the Boy Scouts like everyone on the face of the earth, and I’m not exaggerating because I speak quite pointedly, did I? You know exactly what I mean, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking to you. That’s just the kind of relationship you and I have.

What? What do you mean this makes you feel uncomfortable? What do you mean we hardly know each other? You don’t find this direct address through your computer screen to be charmingly intimate? You find it pretentious, you say? You find it jarring? Hackneyed? Well, I never!

Now you say I’m putting words in your mouth? That this is presumptuous for me to assume I can predict your criticism? Well, maybe you and I can’t be the close friends I assume everyone makes when they write something extremely public on the internet and automatically assume there’s a close connection inherently established. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with you, reader.

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