Monday, December 7, 2009

The Dilution of Symbols

Before I get started, let me just say this: my wife is cruel. Here I am, sick as a dog (that is sick) and she comes in, turns on really horrible Christmas music, and then leaves the room. I’m too sick to lean over and turn it off. If you needed proof that women are cruel, there you have it. If you did need proof… then you must be a woman – men already know it.

On to the main topic.

I work in an office complex. Each and every day I go to coffee and each and everyday I see the sign that says “Wet Floor.” It’s there whether or not the floor is wet.

Jokingly, I always threaten to sue. “This symbol,” I say, “which stands for wet floors has been diluted to the point that I no longer trust it.” I understand the message that it is trying to convey but because its there all the time, its warning has been diluted.

It’s classic boy who cried wolf (without any of the messy wolves or boys).

95% of the time the floor isn’t wet, yet the sign is still there. Realistically they’re just leaving it in place for those days that the floor is wet; that way Joe Lunchbox or Mary Lunchpail won’t slip and then say the sign wasn’t there to warn them.

Society, as it decays, is moving away from symbols that used to mean something.

Marriage, for instance. It used to be that when you got married to someone you were making a commitment to someone and something; now marriage is a business opportunity for divorce lawyers. Obviously sometimes shit happens and divorce is the only reasonable option, I’m not here to judge other people and their lives because I’m still trying to steer my own, but I’m talking on a societal level. Marriage is a symbol that once meant something to us as a society, now it means less.

Christmas: once, in a magical age, Christmas meant a day to reflect on the birth of Christ. Now it means Santa and presents – companies will tell you that Christmas is really about being with family, but that’s only them reminding you that you need to buy presents for the family you’ll be saying. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you people out there shouldn’t be buying me presents, I like presents, I’m saying its another symbol that’s diluted.

What would you look upon now as a symbol of our times? These things, these symbols, that we long have held as important vanish and are replaced with … nothing.

The next time you see a wet floor sign, don’t check and see if the floor is actually wet; just believe it is. I’ll do the same.

Symbols are important.

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