I’m talking to you, addressing the second person.

Things we read are almost always in two points of view, the first person, “I swallowed a fly,” and the third person, “The man swallowed the fly.” There is, however, that weird in-betweeny thing called the second person. “You swallowed a fly.”

I’ve tried to read pieces written in second person, but when I read, “You swallowed a fly,” I generally think, “I did? When did this happen?” They leave me feeling very uncomfortable.

Generally, it’s a good rule to stay away from this form in journalism and fiction. I’ve already covered the fiction part–remember when you swallowed the fly? But I also believe a journalist would rather say, “The GAO’s new report is shocking,” than, “You will be shocked at the new GAO report.” The first phrasing may imply how the reader should feel, but the second phrasing tells the reader how they will feel.

Second person, however, is acceptable in many places. In advertising: When you walk across the plush carpets, you will marvel at the old world craftsmanship of this quaint, three bedroom home. In songwriting: You and I travel to the beat of a different drum. And, in everyday conversation: When you listen carefully, you’ll hear it too.

So, when I saw yesterday that I had used the second person several times in my post on the subjectivity of humor, I thought about editing them out, as if I were a journalist. However, I decided not to. Because I’m not writing for a magazine, I’m having a conversation with you.

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