And Other Mishaps Of A Broken Society
We all are aware of the ‘do not step on the grass’ signs we might occasionally see as we take leave of our houses and make way through our neighborhoods. Its a socially agreed-upon injunction — that for many, will never lead to prison. It’s a symbolic law with the expectation that by following it, the appearance of society as a safe cohesive whole will remain intact.
It’s much like the parent who tells the child not to eat the candy and knows full well that the child will find a way to perform the undesirable act. Right now, as a social media trend, many celebrities are showing this very thing happening–The ‘Don’t Eat It’ or ‘Fruit Snacks social media challenge has been taking the online world by storm. Why? Beyond the fact, the many of the children seem cute when they’re ‘breaking the socially agreed upon contract put upon them by their parents — the underlying reality why many of us enjoy watching children break the parental law is that deep down (according to psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan) we too want to the break the law. This is how we can easily justify a child breaking some invisible parental demand versus an actual social law.
To Jacques Lacan the reason why we all desire — is because desire is given to us by some other structure outside of us. This Other thing (i.e. law, parent, god, ethic and etc.) –and we want to please that Other most of the time. Yet, to Freud we are all haunted by the Id (uncontrollable internalized impulses) which wants to wreak chaos where there is order. Before we get carried away and this gets too academic — the short of this principle is that we all wish we could break the law because we have conflated the law with a lack of being free, or we have conflated being free with breaking the law or social expectations in place.
Whoever Breaks The Law, Follows The Law
This is why we see many who aren’t wearing masks — its that they want to stand where they think freedom is. However, to break the law, you also have to follow its very rules to break it. So the so-called social rulebreakers are much more committed to the law then they think. How so? Because to break anything at all, you have to be aware of its contours and how it works so you can free yourself from it.
To not wear a mask is the most law-abiding think you can do. Because to break the law, you first have to adhere to it. The masks act as a symbol of biopower put upon us by the government — but this article is not about the government – it’s about us and our desire to be free.
However, what about those who appear outside the law, or ‘above the law’ — like celebrities. What does this say about the nature of the law itself? Is the law worth following? How is it that many get away with the law — if the law itself is perfect or complete? Well, in that question lies the very answer. The law is never perfect or complete – but for many, thinking makes it so. This is why some can claim validity in older laws or statutes, like the second amendment.
Again, we have to understand that even though we have judges, police officers, judicial staff, courts and etc. — these still remain symbols of the social contract we all agree upon. It is an intersubjective agreement that holds the appearance of a full and complete law that in actuality does not exist. When someone lies ‘outside the law’ — like a celebrity – they become a symbolic reminder that the law can never be complete. That the law can be fractured and imperfect. So, exceptions to the rule prove that the rule has exceptions – that the rule only works when everyone agrees on it.
Symbols Of Law Are Agreed Upon
This is how the ‘cute’ child can get away with stealing or eating what they are told not to — the ‘cute’ element of the child stands-in as the exception to the rule. As long as the child is young and innocent – then it’s okay if they steal in a virtual scenario. It is only later as an adult does this then become a problem.
In semiotics, the study of symbols and meaning — it matters where objects are placed in relationship to a person, city, or context. In this particular social media trend – we are met that there are people who are ABOVE the law — ‘cute children’ who can get away with not listening to their parents (by extension, in an ideal setting, a soft symbol of social law).
In the context of why it’s important to understand this symbol is that we tend to want to think we live in a perfect unbroken society where the law has the ultimate say in what we do, who we can be (i.e. when we legislate whether or not someone from the homosexual community can purchase something in certain stores), where we can go and how we can get there – but, in short, by its own confession with these exceptions — the law itself is what is broken and we are already free.