The Age of Words

It was almost a year ago that I put a note into my possible post topics file about this. Still not sure I have enough to say, coherently, for a significant length post, but I’ll cobble what I do have.

My original note was to post about “people not letting me read their shirts”.

Since that time, especially in the past month or so, I have been observing how many of the shirts that people wear for leisure have something written on them. A lot of it is advertising a brand, or an event, or a social group. Some of it is social commentary, or in-your-face statements about the other person, you and life.

But all of this really emphasizes that we are a very literate-focused culture. I’m not saying that any of this is really literary — good grammar, precise prose, poetic diction and skilled use of metaphor — but everyone can read in one form or another, to use the tech of our day.

Words are every where. Sure, artwork is wrapped within it, but the written word, in the social media and graphic arts, has taken our culture over. The number of shirts, to get back to my original musing, that don’t have something written on them, is much smaller than those that do.

One would think that all these words meant something to the people that put them on, that since they are advertising or proclaiming social commentary, that they would want people to be able to read what is written. Yet my experience is that most people don’t pay attention to how their words are displayed, or ever give thought to whether anyone else can read what is said.

Most of the time people tend to occlude at least part of what is there, so someone like me, who is captive to reading everything he sees, has to make guesses about what is said, or seem to gawk and be impolite to read the statements, invade someone else’s personal space to do so.

If everyone would be considerate, says the totally impractical side of me, they would make sure I can read their shirts whenever they go by, or I go by.

So, what do the rest of you think? Are you a slave to reading everything you see? How do people’s shirts and clothing slogans affect or attract your attention?

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