Monday, August 6, 2012

Form & Function

So my friend and I are driving down the road the other day. He spots an SUV with a sticker in the window that says:

He then turns to me and asks if I know what that sticker stands for. It should be noted here that about 90% of the time when one of us asks the other if we know what something is, the asker knows and it is really a pop quiz for the askee.

I tell him that since we live in Hawaii and I have some background in Hawaiian language, my brain automatically starts to decode it in that context. So all of this time I have been reading it as "heki." I figured someone was being artsy and cool and was mixing it up just for the sake of mixing it up.

As it turns out, it is not what I thought and it instead stands for HE is greater than i, with the I in lower case for emphasis.

Now, I am not one to put my personal beliefs into a bumper sticker, but if other people want to, then that's totally up to them. My issue with this way of communicating is that I did not understand what it was supposed to be saying. It made me think about how often we sacrifice the message's meaning for the message's look or feeling.

Perhaps this particular message is not meant for me. Perhaps it is a coded message meant for other drivers who are in on it and want to signal each other that they are around. To be honest, I don't know.

But if it is a way to communicate to the world, wouldn't you want to be clear what the message is supposed to be? Was there ever any consideration to being clear before being clever?

In this case, someone outsmarted themselves. In an effort to be clever, they lost the meaning of the message. And that in turn begs the question, if no one can understand what it is that you are promoting, then what's the point?

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