Distortion Games

In one sense, to participate within society is to subscribe to a collection of symbols. Citizens might be understood as a collective of subscribers- individuals who are both aware and participatory in a system of signs. Within my collective I can see a vertical strip of colors and understand green to mean “go” and red to mean “stop”. Likewise green can mean recycle in some other contexts. Meanings are fluid, but as a member of my collective I learn to adapt to new adaptations. I change just as my symbols do- ever evolving in application.

If so inclined, one might seize these symbols and utilize them for personal gain. This story introduces one such attempt. Here the company is taking advantage of the collective’s response to an ambulance. The collective understands the ambulance with flashing lights to mean a medical emergency is taking place and that they need to make way for the vehicle. If seen with flashing lights, each member of the collective knows they are expected to pull over.

How might an authority stop this manipulation of symbols? Certainly unable to stop each ambulance to verify that an emergency is taking place, the “manipulating company” enjoys multiple layers of protection. Trafficking in symbols of medical emergency provides an added level of security as the uninvolved fear getting involved and endangering a real-life problem. Far symbols hold more power than those involved with emergency. Merely flashing red and blue lights suggest emergency and demand attention.

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