Culture

'Cross the street, then update Facebook,' says new road sign

Technically Incorrect: The picturesque city of Hayward, California, decides it must have road signs that reflect our modern world.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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How can you not pay attention? Well, by already being glued to Facebook, perhaps. CBS San Francisco screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Officialese is a language that has often been fishy and rarely been easy.

I am, therefore, prostrate in admiration for a California town that has decided to turn some of its official messaging into what borders on contemporary art.

The city of Hayward isn't necessarily the home of progressive attitudes in all their forms, but some of their new road signs are breaths of fresh thinking.

For example: "Downhill. Use Eyes, Brakes, Brain." There's something deeply modern about reminding people to use one of the most neglected areas of their being now that technology has come along.

Touching in its exasperation is "It's A Speed Limit, Not A Suggestion." Well, yes, so as long as you limit yourself to 9mph over it, you're fine, right?

However, there's one that bathes in truth and glory: "Heads Up. Cross The Street. Then Update Facebook."

How many times have you wanted to slap -- or at least deliberately bump into -- someone walking down the street, face stuck in their phone and expecting you to avoid them? (Or not.)

How many times have you wanted to slap yourself, when you realize you are the one who's been walking down the street and expecting everyone else to avoid you?

This glorious reminder of our social downfall is, as CBS San Francisco reported, the work of Frank Holland, Hayward's public information officer.

He used to work in marketing. But we can forgive him that, as he may have fallen upon a far more exalted metier: raising the standard of the world's road signs.

He told CBS that he hopes, at a minimum, people will say: "Oh, that's interesting. Maybe I should listen to that. Maybe I should pay attention."

He is also aware of the magnitude of the artistic task now in his delicate artistic hands.

Firstly, he acknowledged: "I'm the guy that everybody can point at and say, 'God, those are horrible.' But you know what? If they say they're horrible, that's OK because they're still talking about the message and hopefully slowing down."

No, they might not slow down, but they might just appreciate being spoken to in a slightly different way for a change.

Holland now claims he's worried by the burden of having to come up with more. Surely that can't be too hard. People do so many ridiculous, nonsensical things that he'll have an infinity of opportunity and a plethora of avenues to explore.

Here's one for free, Frank: "Yo. You on the bike. Go Through That Stop Sign Without Stopping And I'll Armstrong You."

It's a little long, I confess.