WHO ARE “THEY”? – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of days ago, I commented, “They say that Boston now has America’s worst traffic.” Personally, I bet New York is much worse, no matter what “they” say.

That got me to thinking about who “they” are?

Is there a special group dedicated to calculating how bad traffic is in every city in the U.S.? How often do they check? Do they check all the inbound road as well as the in-town roads? Do they check every city in every state? What about people who tell us about our manners. Like, “They say it’s okay to not change hands and only American eat that anyway.”

Who are they?

Weddings. “They” say you don’t really need a veil, just the ‘idea’ of a veil. WHO ARE THEY?

They say more American are Democrats than Republicans. If that’s true, how did we elect you-know-who?

Whoever they are, they have a lot to say.

I think when “they” get quoted, we should establish who they are. Are they an official government group? Just a bunch of people who got together and decided to write a blog or a tweet? A bunch of college kids? Or maybe — third graders?


I say let us put man and a woman together
To find out which one is smarter.
Some say man but I say no.
The woman got the man de day should know.

And not me but the people they say
That de man are leading de women astray
But I say, that the women of today
Smarter than the man in every way

That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter
That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter
That’s right de woman is, uh, smarter, that’s right, that’s right!

Ever since the world began
Woman was always teaching man.
And I tell you, listen to my bid attentively
I goin’ tell you how she smarter than me.

Samson was the strongest man long ago
No one could beat him, as we all know
Until he clash with Deliah on top of the bed
She told them all the strength was in the hair of his head.

You meet a girl at a pretty dance
Thinking that you would stand a chance.
Take her home, thinking she’s alone
Open de door you find her husband home.

I was treating a girl independently
She was making baby for me
When de baby born and I went to see
Eyes was blue — it was not by me.

Garden of Eden was very nice
Adam never work in Paradise.
Eve meet snake, Paradise gone
She make Adam work from that day on.

Methuselah spent all his life in tears
Lived without a woman for 900 years.
One day he decided to have some fun
The poor man never lived to see 900 and one.

Songwriters: Norman Span
Act II “In the Caribbean.” Man Smart (Woman Smarter) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Next Decade Entertainment, Inc

31 thoughts on “WHO ARE “THEY”? – Marilyn Armstrong

    • I think — at least on legitimate (more or less) news outlets “they say” is not a reasonable statement for anything, whether it is which city has the worst traffic, the most Democrats, the largest number of Latinos, Jews or whoever is the object of the “study.” That’s the other thing: “Studies have shown …”

      Which studies and who ran them? A bunch of undergraduates trying to write a paper for their sociology prof?

      I want to know WHO comprised the statistics — and who appointed them to do this job. And why were these surveyors chosen (willing to work for 50 cents an hour)?

      I have learned that “Pittsburgh has been voted as the best city in which to live.”

      Really? I don’ t know anyone who even thinks about Pittsburgh as a place to live — not that I have anything against Pittsburgh but I also never think about it at all. Ever. Unless their team is playing. And who were surveyed to get these answers? What percentage of the population was part of the survey — and who controlled and tallied the survey? They didn’t come to MY town and no one talked to me.

      Or you. Or anyone I know.

      Every now and again, someone tells you that the survey was conducted among the (number of people) considered to be (most likely to vote) (most likely to commute) (owners of Subaru cars) (homeless people who have time for surveys). It’s like scanning Amazon and finding “Favorite on Amazon” (based on what?) or “Amazon’s Choice” (based on …) and you really have to wonder — WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?

      Personally, I think most surveys are conducted among whoever doesn’t hang up the phone before the surveyor says something.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “I think most surveys are conducted among whoever doesn’t hang up the phone before the surveyor says something.” I think that is exactly who “they” are!


  1. It is quite clear. For my dear old dad who was a Brit and found any other nationality was not so good, the others were they. When he visited us in Switzerland I would cook my usual Swiss food or we might go out for a meal. He would be with his girlfriend now and again, and everything was different to the British Way of life. His excuse? They like things like that.” So there you have it, we were the they in that case.


    • “They” or “those people” (Garry’s personal favorite) usually means “someone who isn’t me or one of mine. It also is a way of pointing out minorities, religions currently out of favor (like anyone who doesn’t happen to be Christian)(or anyone who isn’t white).

      Probably we should exclude cranky old people because whatever they like, it is usually something that stopped having any relevance to known reality 50 years ago — and may NEVER have had anything to do with reality but are actually personal opinion by that individual.

      “We don’t care for that kind of food,” is clearly that personal preferences writ large. It is why it’s so damned hard entertaining some elderly family members.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Perhaps this is a case of the royal they. Just when we use “we” and really mean “I,” I think we use “they” in this situation when we actually believe that the statement we’re contradicting is a common belief among all of us, including ourselves. Or perhaps I am one of the “they” who is trying to mislead you… they say you have to be careful who you believe.


    • Okay, let’s say that much of the time “they” is really “us.” But … when you are dealing with something that could reasonably be a statistical thing, I don’t think that applies. Who counts the traffic? Who adjusts for traffic jams? Who declares “the best city” to live in? These things come up on the news all the time. So who ARE they? Are these numbers just “made up” at the time or do they come from some statistical compilation made by some organization somewhere? These “citings” are definitely NOT from me or you or any of us nor is it “common opinion.” It is someone’s opinion or statistical summary — but whose?


    • I’ve been asking this same question since I was a kid. Especially when I was a kid where I’d hear “they say orange and yellow don’t go together” and I’d say “who ARE THEY?”

      No one could answer me because, in fact, THEY aren’t anyone. It’s someone’s idea of “popular opinion” or “my opinion” or “what my minister said last Sunday.” Or, “I think I read it somewhere, but I don’t remember where or when.”


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