I usually don't get upset at the singular "they." English has no singular non-gendered personal pronoun. "He" sounds sexist, "he or she" is awkward, and "it" isn't personal. In casual speech and writing, using "they" as a non-gendered singular pronoun seems acceptable. I've heard Harry Truman use it (well, I heard a recording of Harry Truman using it). Take the title of Tea N. Crumpet's recent post, " Clean up, clean up, everybody does their share. . . " No problem. But Facebook has taken the singular "they" to a new, and to my mind, unacceptable level.
I was wasting my time on Facebook last night, and took one of its "Pick Five" applications: "Pick 5 Cars You've Had." Once it came up with a picture of a 1972 Volkswagen Fastback (mine was blue, and not orange, though), I was hooked. But then my picks were posted on my Facebook page, with this legend:
"Stephen picked their (5) for '5 cars you've had...'"
"Stephen picked THEIR???" Have I become plural? And the sad thing is, there are so many ways to get around the pronoun. For instance, "Stephen picked 5 for '5 cars you've had.'" Or, "The 5 cars Stephen picked are..." I'm sure I could come up with a dozen more perfectly grammatical ways to express it.
Facebook is the preferred social networking site for Americans, and probably for the the planet. When Facebook (and as far as I can tell, "Pick 5" is an application designed by Facebook) says something outright barbarous, to use Orwell's phrase, a lot of people are going to assume it's grammatical. I have no idea how to complain to Facebook, so I'll just send this out into cyberspace.