Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 2004 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Tanya Barrientos

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At least in color-coded world there's no gray | Red states. Blue states.

The purple pill.

Pink ribbons. Red ribbons. Yellow bracelets.

Need I say more?

Green Party.

Orange terror alert.

What can brown do for you?

Suddenly our lives, and our allegiances, have become color-coded.

It's as if we've done away with words to state our states of mind. I wonder why. Are we too busy to take the time to explain our beliefs? Or are we just tired of listening?

I'd like to think the move toward color is good, that it's a bold stride away from seeing the world in simple black and white.

But it isn't.

Instead of inviting questions, conversation or even a bit of analysis, our Crayola-colored platforms have become just another form of shorthand.

First we embraced sound bites that reduced complex thoughts to simple phrases. Then we moved to text messages that turned conversations into new-age hieroglyphics (C U L8TR).

Now we don't even bother to speak. Just flash a color and be done with it.

If you ask me, it's a giant step backward. We've all painted ourselves with such broad brush strokes that there's no room for shades of gray.

Red string around your wrist? You're an alternative-thinking, yoga-practicing follower of kabbalah. Probably vegan, definitely for animal rights and Pilates.

Rainbow flag flapping outside your door?


I can remember when being blue meant being sad, when Big Blue stood for IBM. Now, blue is a discount airline, or a troupe of men painted indigo performing on Broadway.

And oh, the things yellow has seen!

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In old cowboy movies it stood for cowardice. During the Jimmy Carter-era hostage crisis it represented hope and remembrance.

Now, Lance Armstrong has usurped the primary color, with his Livestrong rubber bangles.

In mommy circles, pink still stands for baby girls and Barbie. But once that kid gets out of elementary school, she'll know that the cheerful shade of rose veers toward the darker side of womanhood, especially in October.

Don't act surprised.

If you've ever owned a T-shirt, mug or bumper sticker that says I (HEART) N.Y., you've contributed to our painter's-palette world.

The day you slapped an oval decal on your car touting your vacation spot (VT, OBX, OC), you joined the wordless revolution.

I mean, honestly, where did we expect the nation to head after that?

America has become a living version of the Candy Land board game. For ages 3 and up.

Truth is, there isn't much we can do about it.

Except raise a white flag and surrender.

Tanya Barrientos is a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Comment by clicking here.


10/06/04: Hooked into paying more dough for the same cup of joe

© 2004, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.Services. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.