Self Reflection: "They" & the Lesson I Learned

So I was listening to my the Joe Rogan Experience (my favorite podcast...you know, besides my own) the other day and I realized something. The use of the “They” pronoun needs to be used better.

Joe is known for having quite possibly the most diverse list of guests you will find on any podcast: from musicians to professional fighters, astrophysicists, politicians, comedians, Alex Jones, you name it! On this particular episode he invited Steven Rinella, famous outdoorsman and world traveler. Rinella had just returned from from the Rain Forest of Guyana, the country that just so happens to be the place of birth and early stomping grounds of yours truly.

Click image to listen to podcast episode.

Click image to listen to podcast episode.

Having spent an extended period of time with the Macushi people in what Guyanese people commonly refer to as “The Interior,” Rinella sat with Joe to revisit his experiences in the relatively untouched section of the South American country. And that he did. Except, I honestly felt as though not enough of a distinction was made, conveyed and reinforced when discussing that the Macushi people live hundreds of miles away from the 90% of the population of Guyana. And yes, in Georgetown where that 90% of the population lives, THEY ALL KNOW ABOUT THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE. And they wear sneakers. And sunglasses. And have cable, cell phones, even video games. And most don’t know how to hunt, and probably don’t even know that the Macushi people even exist.

Now I’m not gonna lie, this man taught me some things about my country that I never before knew. Like...you know...the Macushi People...and that big ass fish I never heard of and probably won’t ever want to even attempt to catch. Seriously this is an extremely informative podcast and Rinella seems to genuinely care about the people whom he shared those experiences with. Listen to it, you won’t be disappointed.

Steven Rinella in Guyana

But his usage of the word “They” to describe the nature of the Macushi people relative to Guyana is similar to someone using the same pronoun to describe a Native American Reservation in the Midwest, relative to the rest of the United States. It’s such a small percentage of the population that in no way can you accurately describe them and Guyana in the same breath.

But here’s the real kick in the nuts for me: I’ve done the same thing too! When revisiting my travels to China I would often speak in general terms when recalling my interactions with people I met while out there. Not really focusing on the possibility that my audience may be interpreting what I’m saying as if I were speaking for all the people of China.  

Now I know what it’s like listening to people discuss your country in simple terms. Lessoned learned, I guess.