The use of second person plagues college campuses everywhere; “you” is an epidemic that needs to be obliterated. When the word “you” is used in academia it denotes weak writing. “You” limits what the writer is able to convey to their potential reader; thus, it limits the information that the reader is able to absorb. A strong writer knows how to avoid the use of second person. Avoiding the use of second person requires the writer to implement their critical thinking skills; hopefully, this is what one is trying to accomplish in an academic setting, even if s/he wants to just write a work email. When I speak to you in this message, I am purposefully using generic language, to avoid offending you. Speaking to you like this is very easy for me, because I am thinking about a physical person while I speak. You are hearing my voice mentally, because I am using active, progressive words when speaking.
But, there’s a difference, ya see. Occasionally, stories are told throughout families, and they are very exciting and are presented to others with a lot of enthusiasm. To make the listener of the story closer to the speaker, the person telling the story may switch to telling things like, “You wouldn’t believe it!” This seems harmless, but in reality, we are assuming that the person reading has never experienced what is being said. There are a lot of people in the world, all of whom have a lot of experiences. They will be immediately distanced from the writing, as soon as they could believe it. This seems extreme, but many writers often fall into a narrative similar to “But when you went up there, ya couldn’t see anybody!” At what point will your reader shake their heads and step back – “You” isn’t as Effective as You Might Think.