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What I Learned This Week: The Hidden Message of Scotch Tape

04/08/2013 12:09 EDT | Updated 06/08/2013 05:12 EDT
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the used of tape dispenser on...

It was a gorgeous spring weekend, and I spent most of it walking downtown...which is why today I come to you with this confession:

I hate Scotch Tape.

Yes, a strange confession. But not without justifiable explanation.

Over the weekend, in countless store windows, I saw Scotch Tape support crookedly-hung, crudely-made messages of "We're closed for inventory," "Washrooms for customers only," "Please ensure door shuts tightly behind you," and the like.

In restaurants, I saw Scotch Tape repair ragged and battered menus, and affix daily specials to others in slightly better condition.

In elevators, I saw Scotch Tape cover up a hole where a basement button used to be, and trace the crack in a mirror in an effort to keep it from cracking even more (and from passengers to slice their fingers, I suppose).

What's worst of all, on my way into the office this morning, I saw Scotch Taped signs all over the front door windows of our now-defunct museum building next door. Oh the horror, the horror...

In a nutshell, and with all due respect to the 3M Corporation, I think Scotch Tape sends an awful message. It's inelegant and used with reckless abandon. It improves nothing.

Frankly, when you see Scotch Tape on just about anything, you know that something's gone wrong. Even worse, it usually means things have passed the point of no return.

Now I know that everything can't always be perfect and pristine, and that fixing things is part of the creative process.

But the way I see it, when Scotch Tape is used as a repair tool (or as a means of presentation or communication), what's really being said is that at best, "Things are beyond the state of repair," or at worst, "Hey, we just don't give a rat's ass any more."

On a literal basis, Scotch Tape (as well as its brethren, Masking Tape and Duct Tape) may be an eyesore and the embodiment of throwing in the towel, but figuratively, the message is even sadder.

In other words, I know of too many people and too many businesses who use Scotch Tape metaphorically. "It costs too much," or "It takes too much time," or "I don't have enough energy to change things the way they should be going, so I'll cover up the problem with some Scotch Tape (which, being transparent, makes this even more pitiful) and hope it holds until somebody else is responsible."

There's always a better way. Signs can be hung myriad less obtrusive, more graceful and eye-pleasing ways. Menus can be replaced. So can elevator buttons, glass and mirrors...and people who are reluctant to do things better and more imaginatively.

So, the lesson of the week: if you're relying on Scotch Tape, you've probably already lost your grip on things.