Adam Atler in his book “Drunk Tank Pink” said that symbols are magnets for meaning. Symbols inspire reactions much similar to labels and shape how we think, feel, and behave.
Although not as strong as visual symbols, social symbols like “having a car” can connote a host of whole other meanings.
Having a car might mean you are person (or you belong to a well-off family) who can afford the costs of having a car – downpayments, monthly amortizations, maintenance, upkeep, repairs. It also means you have or live in a home that actually has a garage.
In purchasing real estate, homes with carports can mean that the feature adds up to the cost in floor areas of a house. Condominium developments even charge you an amount that could almost equal a new home if you decide to have parking space for your vehicle.
Thus, the merits of having car brings to a person. It’s the symbol of a car that associates you with wealth or being “may kaya”. The symbol is a magnet for meaning and has the power to shape the thoughts, feelings, and behavior towards other people.
Like other symbols, having a car will lack meaning unless tied to an existing meaningful concept. One concept is that having a car is a ticket for guys to “get girls”. This is especially true here in the Philippines where car is considered a luxury and not a necessity. Thus, the current meme of “naa kay car” which seems to show that girls nowadays will only date guys if they have a car.
How true is that meme nowadays? Does having a car also show a guy’s honesty, intelligence, open-mindedness, humor, thoughtfulness, ambition, understanding, spontaneity, listening skills, respectfulness, consistency, trustworthiness, humbleness, and reliability – all of which are said to be personality traits of perfect boyfriend material?
As the book Drunk Tank Pink mentioned, “symbols and images are so powerful because we perceive them so effortlessly and so rapidly”. It helps us easily process our thoughts and behaviours by priming and preparing us.
Have a car? You must be rich!
Have a car? You could easily buy me other things!
Have a car? You can pick me up from school!
Have a car? We can easily have joyrides!
Have a car? Sugton na taka!
Have a car? Yes, uyab na ta!
Ignore perhaps that fact that the person “nga naay car” (with a car) may be nothing more than just another tenant still living in his parents home, borrowing his parent’s car with the illusion that driving a borrowed car can somehow win him favors and hearts. How’s that for meaning?
This one example along with a whole lot of other social symbols influence us in a way that makes us think that the curated self is nothing but a farce. The self that we project on Snapchat or Facebook is nothing short of a curation of the concepts that show how much we value superficiality.
Symbols are definitely forces that shape how we think, feel, and behave. Especially in this digital era with people having the attention span of a goldfish.
Beep! Beep! Sakay na! Let's ride the jeep ng media.
Marami na po ang blogs ko, later na po ang bagong bio.
Latest posts by Manong Driver (see all)