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Inspirational posters are self-Defeating

by Aniko Zala, Staff Writer

"Inspirational" posters abound at West G. We're constantly bombarded in our halls and classrooms with these posters that are designed to reinforce good behavior and good decisions. Do these posters really do anything at all or are they just one more thing for students to make fun of?


We know that "teasing hurts," but at this age, most of us know how to handle ourselves. We don't tease each other. And the few who do are certainly not going to be inspired to have an epiphany on the subject by a decade-old poster, staring a kid with a bad haircut. Not that West G. really has many bullies anyway! That kind of problem in our system peters out in middle school. A couple of freshmen carry it over to high school, but by sophomore year most realize that bullying only really alienates themselves.


Simply put, students do not take the posters seriously. When I asked for a response to the posters around the school, no one said anything about them being a positive influence. Instead, every single response was along the lines of, "They're hilarious," "It encourages people," and "When I look at it, it makes me want to point and laugh."


I've heard the argument that it doesn't matter if we make fun of the posters, we still see them every day. Their message becomes kind of ingrained in us and that's the real point. If the posters are a kind of subliminal messaging tactic, then 1) that's creepy, and 2) it doesn't work. There have been all kinds of tests and trials on that and the general consensus is that subliminal messages are effective only in fiction.
The posters are useless; even if their meanings are credible, their presentation makes it lost on us. When we look at the "Teasing Hurts" poster, all we see is a kid in early nineties flannel and a bad haircut. The posters don't inspire epiphanies or meaningful dialogue, unless you consider lunchroom jokes and banter meaningful. And that is exactly what happens; students make fun of the very posters that are supposed to inspire them not to.


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West Geauga High School | 13401 Chillicothe Road | Chesterland, OH 44026 | 440.729.5950