Ad and marketing creatives
Vocab Lab: The Myself Generation
Have you noticed people saying myself when, as far as you're concerned, they really should be saying me? It seems to have become an epidemic.
Why do the folks in question feel compelled to say things like, "Mollie called Simon and myself to see if we wanted to go to the 4:20 showing of Pineapple Express"? Maybe it's because they've decided myself sounds more correct, more elevated, than plain ol' me. This may also account for the boneheads out there saying, "Can you come with Simon and I to the 4:20 showing of Pineapple Express?" (You and I know it should be "Simon and me.") Maybe it's because me sounds too self-involved — "me me me" — and myself is considered more modest. Maybe it's because you're in law enforcement and you've signed an oath that requires you to say individual instead of person, vehicle instead of car, and myself instead of me.
Whatever the reason, I don't care for it. In fact, until about 10 minutes ago, I dismissed these people as fools — fools, I tell you! I felt myself was special and that its poetic juice should not be diluted by making it synonymous with the prosaic me. So, to further my agenda, I did what any self-righteous stickler does: I went to Merriam-Webster.com.
At first, I was heartened by what I saw:
- that identical one that is I — used reflexively "I'm going to get myself a new suit," for emphasis "I myself will go," or in absolute constructions "myself a tourist, I nevertheless avoided other tourists."
- my normal, healthy, or sane condition "didn't feel myself yesterday."
Then I came across this: "Usage: Myself is often used where I or me might be expected: as subject, 'to wonder what myself will say' (Emily Dickinson)." "Exactly," I thought. "Who wants to go around sounding like Emily Dickinson?" My self-satisfaction began to crumble, however, when I read the subsequent example: "Others and myself continued to press for the legislation." Hmm.
Next I encountered:
- after as, than, or like "an aversion to paying such people as myself to tutor"; "was enough to make a better man than myself quail"; "old-timers like myself."
- as object "now here you see myself with the diver"; "for my wife and myself it was a happy time."
What? Didn't you mean to say, dear M-W, "Such uses almost always occur when the speaker or writer IS WRONG?" At which point reality smacked me in the face like an errant mackerel. I had to ask myself: Could I myself have been wrong about this? Me, wrong?! And if so, as it surely seemed, how had I, of all people, gotten it into my head that myself was an incorrect substitute for me?
Finally, the coup de grâce: "Critics have frowned on these uses since about the turn of the century [phew, I thought, but then], probably unaware that they serve a definite purpose. Users themselves are as unaware as the critics — they simply follow their instincts. These uses are standard."
Serve a definite purpose, eh? Standard, you say. Fine. I'll just have to chalk this, too, up to the evolution of the language and try to unbunch my panties. Again. Don't you hate it when something you were so sure was absolutely wrong is reduced to the status of pet peeve? When you yourself have been reduced to an unaware critic? I know, right? If this has happened to you, please share. I'm thinking of starting a support group.