Obscuring The Message

There are many ways in which you might obscure a message that you are trying to send. One of them is by burying the main idea somewhere in the middle of a body of text instead of at the beginning or at the end. Another is by providing too much background information. Similarly, being too emotional can be a distraction from the main point. That’s why sending effective messages is an art. Sadly, it is an art that this Edmonton resident has failed to learn.

Someone in Strathearn neighbourhood has filled their front property line with flagpoles, flags, and hand-written signs. I counted thirty-eight flags and although I cannot identify them all I saw several Canadian national flags, a Union Jack, two Treaty Eight flags, two Edmonton Eskimos flags, and a few different provincial flags. Somehow, the pride we normally associate with flags does not seem to be present here. It just seems like a jumble of miscellaneous affiliations.

I have blurred out the writing on the twenty-three hand-written signs because some are offensive, but they are all very negative about various municipal, provincial, and national politicians. They also reference Israel, Palestine, Trump, and something called anti-Gentile-ism. I took pictures of all the signs in order to try to understand them when I got home, but despite my best efforts I gave up. I could only conclude a generalized anger.

If I were still teaching writing, I might use this display as an example of obscuring the message both visually and in writing. It is all just too much. I came away bewildered and with a lingering sense that the person who lives in this house is very hostile. They are probably hostile to some very specific people or policies, but as the viewer I felt it personally. All that anger projected in my direction makes me feel like a target, and I was anxious to get away from it.

A new house is being built next door, which is why there is a red fence within the frame of the first photo. As I walked away I wondered if the builders would be able to sell the house. If it has already been sold, I wonder what the new neighbours will think of the flags and signs. If nothing else, it will be easy for their friends to find their new place!

The saddest part of all this is that these houses have a wonderful view of a park, and the park leads down to the river. Maybe, instead of using this as a lesson in obscuring the message I could use it as a lesson in life. If I focus too much on negative politics or extreme nationalism I will miss the beauty that is all around me.

9 Comments

  1. After the disastrous January 6 (Epiphany of all days) in our US Capitol building, this photo gives me chills. I am grateful that you blurred the signs but if they indicate anger and/or hatred, do be cautious if around that area often. It appears to be a lovely home but that is just a surface observation. After January 6th, my first impressions have definitely changed.

    1. I think many of us our doubting our first impressions now. We are also less likely to dismiss fringe groups of conspiracy theorists.

      The person who wrote those signs seemed to be mad at a wide range of people and politics, and I couldn’t make sense of a lot of it. I suspect that is what comes of wandering down internet rabbit holes.

  2. I did not get this at all, and therefore for me the message is obscured…. but, then , I thought maybe they want to say ‘ it’s all for one and one for all’.

    1. It’s hard to know what they want to say because there are just too many flags and signs. I deliberately obscured the writing on the signs because some were offensive, but even if I hadn’t done that, they would have been bewildering.

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