Compare the divorce statements of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos

Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos still have a lot to be happy and grateful for.
Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos still have a lot to be happy and grateful for.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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Today Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos officially divorced and issued statements on the dissolution of their marriage via Twitter. Both were extremely civilized and polite. However, there were some notable differences between their styles.

MacKenzie Bezos is a novelist. Her statement mirrors the style of her books: Restrained. Distant. Preoccupied by details. As if she’s in hiding. This is a writer who shirks fictional characters who might seem to resemble her. Her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, published in 2005, is a workmanly tale about home improvement and family told through a male engineer protagonist, for example. Reading it, you might get the impression that she didn’t want to reveal herself, that she studiously avoided any possible confusion between herself and the character. Similarly, she never says “I” in the summing up of her union although arguably every sentence could have started with one.

More evidence that MacKenzie is not interested in revealing much about herself is the fact that this statement is her first and only tweet. The now 25th-richest person in the world just joined Twitter today to say that she’s “happy” to be giving her ex-husband all of her interest in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of their Amazon stock, plus voting control of her remaining shares. She is also “excited” about her own plans, but don’t bet on knowing what they are because MacKenzie Bezos is a reticent woman (Quartz recently contacted her literary agent and was told that the writer isn’t giving interviews).

Jeff, on the other hand, begins his statement with himself, saying, “I’m so grateful to my friends and family for reaching out with encouragement and love.” His “I” is right there from the get-go, appears throughout the statement, and shows up twice in the final sentence. Last year, Quartz tracked his use of “I” versus “we” statements in over 20 years of Amazon shareholder letters and found that Jeff’s use of “I” has risen with the passage of time. Here, the prevalence of “I” is a stark contrast with the absence of them in his ex-wife’s statement.

Of course, the two Bezos statements do bear some resemblances. The divorcees are both extraordinarily happy and grateful. They both use the word “kindness” and say they will be friends and look forward to continued co-parenting. They clearly agreed to echo each other and consulted, putting up a unified front as they privately split.

One other difference, though: Jeff, who joined Twitter more than a decade ago, retweeted his ex-wife’s statement. MacKenzie didn’t return the courtesy.