By Narcissa Lyons
I live in Massachusetts but have driven to the usual states one does when wanting to get away, get to the beach, the hills, nature and all that. Vermont. Connecticut. Maine. New Hampshire. A few others. I used to think it was just our fine lecturing state that wagged its fingers at their drivers, but I have seen it all over. Anyone reading and from a friendlier state, let me know since it would be refreshing and comforting to know there are less admonishing parts of the country. I am referring of course to the digital signs that only occasionally have something useful posted (i.e. traffic info., road conditions, etc.).
I’ve noticed that lecturing is not uncommon in many people, that instead of a casual debate, a person of a differing opinion forgets their position is just that and takes to lecturing which nearly always comes off as “I’m superior to you and your ways of thinking”. I think this slant on things and opinions is running rampant in every day life now, and man is it tiring. Comes to mind the line “Why is everyone always picking on me?” It’s just that we’re always being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it and most vocally when NOT to do it. As if having reached adulthood ages ago does not mean we know what we are doing so we need to be reminded. In an obnoxious fashion if at all possible.
So the signage problem. I drive by these warnings “you better not do this” and “you certainly better not do that….” Most of the time it is something condescending that we all already know and it is all written in a sermonizing fashion. I wish I knew who came up with all this stuff. “Click it or ticket” is a gem. “Drive sober or get pulled over”, another classic. My absolute favorite is a sign posting a warning to teens not to text and drive. The very sign is a text meant to distract us and tell us the obvious, so that is not only uncool, but also largely idiotic. I am not saying that I need to see flowery statements like “have a brilliant day” or “hope you win the lottery today”, but leave the thing blank if there is nothing important to advise. Tell drivers only when it is relevant because otherwise it is a disservice to us in addition to being just plain annoying. I was driving back from Connecticut the other day and I could not even finish reading the sign. It started off by letting me know that “This year 146 deaths due to….” but I could not finish reading it since it was small print and trying any harder to finish reading it would have jeopardized my driving more than I had already done by bothering to read it in the first place. It is not clear to me who has the authority to create the distracting words and who then approves them, but these are not smart people. Nor, that I can imagine, would they be any fun at a party. The funny thing is, I can see this person, or set of persons, sitting back proudly after creating something like “click it or ticket”. “Boy, Tom, you are a clever one”. Sheesh, it’s bothersome.
This sort of whining/lecturing is related to the guilty until proven innocent mentality, the suspicious of motives, the everyone is a policeman. I suppose we’ve put ourselves here, given the outrageous amount of crime and atrocities in the world, but in areas where we can mellow out, we really should. People should meditate more, yell less, bicker never, and remember that life is too short to bitch about things that are already known. I am fully aware fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts but every summer we get bombarded with this reminder and that “penalty of jail or a fine” is sure to happen if we are caught with any. And if someone is crossing into New Hampshire to go buy those lovely sky lighters are they really going to turn around and pout their way back home after the warning they just read? Me thinks not. Actually, it’d make many more resolute and possibly giddier with excitement at pulling off the firecracker caper.
The theme continues on social media, with oodles of links citing just how awful we are as people. We are racists, we are conservative nut jobs, we are left wing idiots, we are dumber than most, we are killing the planet and we don’t care that we are killing the planet, we are animal abusers, we are raising our children in appalling ways, we are hedonistic, materialistic, narcissistic, over-indulging sycophants who don’t care enough about other people and helping out our fellow man . Once in a while there is a story about a do-good, a Samaritan, but rarely, and even many of those become of less positive import because it is high-lighted just how rare the altruistic human being is. I don’t know what to believe anymore, I just know I feel like shouting LEAVE ME A LONE. We are not that bad. We CAN’T be. I think I’ve changed my mind though on the leaving the signs blank if there is no traffic information to convey. Maybe I wouldn’t mind seeing something like “you deserve to smile at yourself”, or “how about this weather we’re having?” or “nice job on obeying the speed limit”. That one actually might even serve as a speed deterrent AND a complement.
I am not delusional. I know there is rot in the masses, but I am not part of that nor are most of the people with whom I work or socialize. Nor, I still hope and believe, are most of the souls traveling to and from places. We don’t want to be assumed fools or evil law breakers etcetera just for the hell of it or just because there is no roadwork about which to warn us. And for the love of Sanity–if this must continue, dear state powers that be, hire some better writers.