Who Are “They”?

So many people, including me, refer the “they” when they are describing a bad thing that happened or will happen. It’s human nature to do this so it is not a slight on any one who does it. I’ve been hearing it a lot of the last couple of days. But for a moment, think about who “they” are?

Sometimes it is used as a shortcut for some real group or organisation, sometimes it is the government, sometimes it is a shadowy unspecified collective who don’t exist. This idea goes back to ancient history where “they” have been thought of as not human, demonic, or alien entities manipulating humanity from the shadows for eons.

However I believe what ties all of the uses of this word together, and will highlight an underlying shared human facet, is to not only identify an other by the term “they” but to recognise an internal structure of the human brain that perceives this negative pattern for all of us, ancient and modern.

I believe that we are all hardwired to perceive “they” by our own evolution, it is a survival tactic to sort the good from the bad, with the bad being identified as “they”. We all know “they” are not on our side; you and I. “They” are alien to us and our way of life, and seek to change our way of living.

However what is the underlying logic of calling a group “they”? I ascertain from my own experience that “they” are at the root “evil” itself. “They” is a collective noun for another group that hates us and wants us to come to harm, and as such that part of the brain that identifies “they” is identifying evil intent, true or imagined. When people joke about the use of the word “they” and ask “Well who are they then?”, these people intrinsically know the evolutionary sense of “they” but instead for a cheap laugh and a quick win decide to pretend to not know and instead call someone out for their own egoistic gain.

“They” are always evil, and never the good, as we do not identify our compatriots as “they” and we are more likely to call them family or friends. If you like “they” is hyperbolic as it calls to that darkness in us and thus paints another as “evil” when maybe they just had a disagreement and it was later forgotten. Overstating the term is a way of garnering support of another, to join the cause and to also callout “they”.

So are “they” real? Well, yes. Clearly in nature there are opposing forces and we humans also take oppositional points of view, and so the ones who do not agree are of course “they”, the evil ones who are not on our team. “They” is fundamental to human language, and will not anytime go away. Or perhaps I am “they” to your point of view and now I will be admonished by your own individual evolutionary process!

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