What is with “Guys”? More specifically, why do young adults now address every group of people as “guys”? I was watching The Next Food Network Star and one of the finalists began their demo pilot show, the audition used to compete for their own show on the Food Network, with “Hey guys!” It’s as if she thought that the entire, diverse TV audience were a small group of her friends. But they weren’t.
OK, I sense that I’m not making my point strongly enough here, so let me give you another example. We just took our son to visit a college that he might apply to. We were taken on a campus tour by a student who addressed all of us – teenagers, parents, grandparents – as “guys,” as in, “OK, guys, look over here, guys. This is where you guys come if you guys want a late night snack, and over here guys, if you guys need a book, ok guys, then you get it from the library, guys….” He used the word “guys” as frequently as some people insert “um” into their speech.
The widespread use of the word “guys” to address any group of people strikes me as a symptom of the complete lack of distinction that newly minted people make between different audiences. All filters that adjusted the way previous generations interacted with others have disappeared. Public school teachers know this; students talk to them the same way they talk to their friends, parents, pet gerbils….
The students leading families on college tours think nothing of sprinkling in swear words, or making jokes about drinking beer in public. It’s remarkably like the way teenagers post to Facebook, completely oblivious to who’s seeing their posts and apparently imagining that they are hanging out with their close friends and having private conversations. That’s why you go on Facebook and see posts like “She knows what the fuck I mean” or “But it’s not my turn to do it, you ass hat.”
The people posting sentences meant for just one close friend to their hundreds of Facebook friends are our future college professors, who will address large lecture halls with, “OK, guys, there’s homework tonight.” One of them will be President in a few scant years and address the nation on the brink of war with, “Hey guys, you know that last country that I bombed? Well guys, they got mad.” Maybe they will start the speech with a nod to historic presidential speech with, “My fellow guys….”
Maybe I’m being stodgy. Maybe it will be a better future when all social distinctions are eliminated. I should probably jump on the bandwagon. But, I’m not fond of the word “guy” to describe people of all genders, ages and stations in life. I prefer “dumbfucks,” which is what I use with my closest friends. It’s gender neutral and I think my teenage friends will appreciate the edginess. So go ahead and call everyone “guys,” dumbfucks. I respect your language choices. Have a nice day, dumbfucks.
Hmmm…. This post took an unexpected turn at the end. I don’t know what came over me. Click the flower for something more in line with my usual perseverations: