Take a look at any bulletin board and you’ll most likely see that it is completely covered. I mean every shred of geography on the cork covered square is plastered with notices. Some papers are even obscured by another flier, making it hard to tell what is being publicized. Some fliers are outdated by weeks or months. As one stands in front of the multi-colored communication center, you can’t help but have your eyes glaze over and a numbness set into your neck as you try to read. After a while you become increasingly insensitive to these bulletin boards that try feverishly to draw you in. Instead, you avert your eyes and pass them by more and more. The bulletin boards are just the first step in de-sensitizing us to signage in general.
After working for a few years in a setting that deals with the public, it is apparent that people simply don’t want to read signs. Maybe it started with people not wanting to read manuals and it has spread like a virus. It is also possible that having signs and manuals appear in several different languages has further put us off to reading them.
Now instead of large billboards with a catchy saying, we have huge LED TV like screens advertising, attracting us like moths to a light. We don’t have to read anything; we just watch the ad.
Years ago signs that actually had words mutated into icons. I suppose so that all the non-English folks could understand a simple command like not diving into a pool or be able to turn on the windshield wipers on a car. (I actually remember having a car that the knob was labeled wipers.)
There are numerous examples of people’s disregard for signage. After working at a campground, I have found several examples of signage abuse. For example … people don’t turn off a light when leaving a restroom even with a sign requesting as such positioned right about the switch. Then, there is the ignoring of the sign that states, “No Wood Fires.” Yep, you guessed it, go to their site and there’s a wood fire.
So as we become oblivious to signs, what are the repercussions? One more reason people don’t like to read? I’m not sure, but I think it says something about our decline towards the written word. What do you think?