Me and Susie… Is just so wrong

Or is it “are” just so wrong? I read this on a piece of first-grade work pinned to a colleague’s office wall yesterday. It struck a chord in my soul. A discordant chord.

I’m getting old. 62 in less than two weeks.

I confess that I used to like diagramming sentences in junior high school. (What does that make me?)

“Me and Susie talked. Me and Freddie played ball. Me and George had lunch.” This grammatical aberration is now common usage. I know living languages change, and I don’t have problems with that – too much. I’m curious to see how they teach this, since when I was in school “I” was the nominative pronoun, and “me” was the objective – used as the object of action, not the actor. (“Susie hit me,” not “Susie hit I.” Nobody gets that wrong.)

We don’t say, “Me went to the store.” So why do we say, “Me and Susie went to the store.”? Everybody, almost, talks that way, except we old nerds who liked diagramming sentences back in the day. The convoluted grammar rule required to describe how we use “I” alone, but “me” in compound sentence subjects makes me break into a cold sweat. Not that today’s grammar teachers even know or bother with it. (But that’s another rant, isn’t it?)

But to me this grammar conundrum is not the real wrongness. The real problem is the attitude behind it. We were taught, “Susie and I…,” not “I and Susie…” and were taught this – because it was considerate and proper to put Susie first, not myself. Our culture has become wholly me-centered. (I-centered?), and this attitude is reflected in our speech. “Be all you can be.” “If it feels good, do it.”

I did a little poking around on the Internet and discovered that I am not the only one who has noticed this (not that they noted the grammar connection) – googled “self-centered culture” which Google auto-suggested to “self-centered cultures narrow your viewpoint,” which yielded – http://www.lifescript.com/Soul/Self/Growth/Common_Traits_Of_The_Self-Centered_Person.aspx —

“Young people today do not show the same amount of concern that youth of past generations expressed for the state of their country or for current affairs that either directly effect (or will soon directly effect) them and their loved ones. Self caring means that you have concern for others, but not at the expense of yourself. Those of today”‘s generation have taken it to an unprecedented level and seem to take pride in being self-centered and for caring only about their needs and wants. ”

Except that I argue it is not just the younger generation, it is all of us.

We need less “me and Susie” and more “Susie and I.” Maybe it would help if that is what our schools taught again, and that we all reminded ourselves of it from time to time.

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