Signs of the Times: Why We Need To Stop Making Protest Signs

Protesting, yes.

Signs, no.

While protesting and marching are a way to show our solidarity and commitment to a cause, signs have become a way to set ourselves apart from the crowd. Indeed, in a time when we’re supposed to be supporting each other, we use signs to support only ourselves.

Consider how many tweets, instagram posts and other forms of media we’ve seen about who “won” a protest by having a truly clever sign. How many images are shared that don’t promote the values or ideals of the march or protest, but instead focus on a single individual who managed to encapsulate something clever, and usually give us a laugh, with their sign.

Signs are a way to take a march or protest and make it about you.

And, my friends, a march or protest isn’t about you. It’s about everyone there.

As someone who loves a good quip, this is a hard truth for me to accept. Indeed, I’ve sat in my apartment, giant marker at the ready, and I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to write on a sign. I’ve even got multiple blank signs ready because I just know I’m going to come up with a better idea. “Dump Trump”? Pretty good. It rhymes, so that’s something. It’s simple, and simple is good. But I know that it’ll be 4 AM and I’ll come up with “Donald Fuck” and then paste a picture of Trump’s face on Donald Duck’s body, and man will I feel more alive carrying that around the next day.

All the while, though, I should be thinking about what I’m going to be doing the next day and why. I shouldn’t be thinking, “I’m so excited to see everyone’s reaction to my sign.” I should be thinking about my purpose, my reason for being in a given spot at a given time with all these other people. I shouldn’t be thinking about how people are going to tweet pics of my awesome sign. I shouldn’t be taking the spotlight off of others and putting it on myself.

In making signs, I’ve become like the person who comes to a theme party in violation of the theme. The person who comes to the wedding in a Traxedo.

Because, damn it, I just can’t accept that an event won’t be, just a little, about me.

It’s easy to make everything about myself. I live inside myself. From that perspective, yeah, everything IS about me.¬†When I have to fart in the aisle at Hobby Lobby, it’s simple. I need to fart. This is a natural process of my body. I don’t WANT to fart up the aisle in Hobby Lobby, but I have to fart, that’s where I am, and there’s not much for it.

When someone else farts in the aisle at Hobby Lobby, they are an inhuman monster and I’m a little afraid they might be dying and not know it.

It’s hard to make things not be about you, is what I’m saying, because you are contained in this vessel known as “you.” To an extent, yes, everything IS about you. Because you’re you.

But at the same time, it’s important to resist making things that don’t NEED to be about you into things that are about you. You don’t NEED to put your mark on everything, don’t need to stand out at the wedding, don’t need to purposely eat black beans so you can add your scent to the aisles of a craft store. You don’t NEED to make a protest sign that puts you in a different category of protestor, a cleverer, better breed of rabble rouser.

Okay, truth time. This entire thing is a bunch of bullshit.

I hate these sort of thinkpieces and think they’re a bunch of bullshit. BUT, I wanted to write one and see whether or not it was difficult. It was not.

I think it would be easy to do this for the rest of the week. So I’m going to try.

Feel free to skip them if you want. It doesn’t really matter to me. I honestly have NO idea who reads this web site on the regular, and it’s always been an outlet for me to do whatever stupid shit I want. And today, the stupid shit I want to do is prove to myself that it’s not difficult to pick something out of the air, write a thinkpiece about it, and then feel really good about myself.

I achieved some of my goal. I wouldn’t say I feel really good about myself. But c’mon, that’s never going to happen as a result of something I make. That’s got to be external. And also needs to have happened like 25 years ago from a significant adult, and then probably some more ten years after that from some peers, and then probably, well, you get the idea. Feeling good about myself is pretty unattainable at this point.

See you tomorrow when we talk about…I don’t know, why having a snowball fight is cultural appropriation? I’ll find something, don’t worry.