Signs

If you go on twitter and input “#marchforchange” in the search bar, you will be bombarded with a slew of tweets and articles related to the latest march to descend on the Trump administration. These tweets range from people who are pissed off about the issues surrounding climate change, to people who are pissed off about the people who are pissed off about the issues surrounding climate change, to people who are just generally pissed off. All of these people have opinions about something, and they all want their opinions to be heard via the most accessible medium on the planet.

But their tweets rarely contain only 140 characters of their own thoughts. They are almost always accompanied by articles, pictures, videos, and gifs that act as a sort of loophole to the 140 character limit, while also bolstering the strength of whatever pissed off person’s argument might be. If you go back to that bombardment of tweets post-#marchforchange search, you will likely see pictures of one thing more than anything else: signs.

Signage is easily the most shared aspect of the #marchfor movements. We see pictures of signs via twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Buzzfeed, Snapchat, and virtually any other online medium imaginable. More often than not, signs are shared due to their cleverness and/or humor. The casual tweeter or Facebook scroller can easily take 3–5 seconds to look at a photo of one of these signs, have a laugh, and then continue their scroll through the world of their electronic friends.

But is this simplicity a good thing? In a sense, yes. Readers are able to absorb important information quickly and effortlessly, and then move on with their lives. It’s almost mindless, but at least they’re being presented with information that, if it weren’t for that picture or gif, they might not see otherwise. However, that same mindlessness is the reason that the answer to “is simplicity good” is also no. Viewers see the information, but it flashes by them faster than a commercial on a television screen. They might chuckle at a clever pun, but then they forget about it.

It’s impossible to say that these signs do nothing; a split second recognition is better than no recognition at all. But hopefully, somewhere down the line, we can evolve from black-painted, neon-backed signs on sticks across the National Mall, to ink-lain, printer-warmed bills on desks across Washington, D.C.