Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs...

As I was driving to work this morning I saw a bus that was turning left in front of me. A large sign on it said “”. At first I was shamed that I had indeed taken my attention off of driving and read it and then I started to feel a sense of outrage over it.

Much like the old ‘70’s song by the Five Man Electrical Band says,:

Signs Signs everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

Most of the signs seem to be aimed at selling us something. They come in small portable signs setting out in front of businesses to billboards to huge flashing electronic LCD signs advertising everything from which hospital is best to radio stations.

I feel as if I’m bombarded with messages, 24/7. At night those electronic monstrosities flash and swirl, keeping beat to some unknown rhythm all of their own. They draw our attention when we are at stop lights, saying read me, over and over. They are almost hypnotic sometimes and as I watch I find even my heart often beats with their flashes as I am drawn in to them.

Then the light changes and we’re all off, racing on to the next light, the next sign. Do we shake off the old sign before we are in front of the next? Do we even shake them off period? Those flashing images have a way of imprinting on our brains; sort of like watching TV and then closing your eyes. You can still see the image of the TV screen when you do that. So what does the flashing of the sign do? Does it imprint itself into your brain, your memory? That’s what they are designed to do folks, to make you remember them and the messages they try to sell us.

Is it safe? Do you feel competent to drive around with all of these signs flashing at you? Do you have the ability to shake them off? I’ve heard arguments from the sign companies saying that the signs are meant for the passengers to read. But as I said above, I caught the sign on the side of the bus so can we successfully block out the messages?

How many things do you try to focus on when you are driving? We have enough on our minds already; families, work, what we need to grab at the store. Messaging systems follow us everywhere we go now. The age of electronics ensures that our phone calls, e-mails and text messages are never out of our reach. Now we add signs that are doing their best to imprint into our already over-taxed brains, almost impossible to over look.

But I do try…

I like the last verse from the song:

And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all,
I didn't have a penny to pay,
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign.
I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine