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My vocabulary grew this weekend. I added “skeuomorph” to the cache. It has an awkward definition, which I roughly translate as something that is functionally obsolete (from its original purpose) or unnecessary, but continues in existence for aesthetic or other purposes. Wikipedia has a better description.

Anyway, the de facto example seems to be the rivets on a pair of jeans. [As a wholly random aside, why is it a “pair” of 1 pants… and for that matter, why are they plural?] Oftentimes, the rivet you see is actually only there in decoration, as the functional one is much less interesting, and covered beneath the pretty one you see.

But, this term can also be applied to phrases as well. Observe: When you drive up to Sonic, be sure to roll down your window and place your order with the waitress. Really; when was the last time you hand-cranked a car window?

So here’s the one I’ve been pondering for a while, that actually may fit into this category: arm pit hair. I am sure it had a purpose at one point — some functionality from which cavemen benefited. But today, why do our bodies retain it? Why hasn’t it phased out of existence? Okay… so maybe that was a stretch.

So I offer up another one: parking lights on cars. When do you really need them anymore? Nobody actually uses them for their intended purposes — as a low-battery-draw light which can be left on overnight so nobody creams you as you are parked street-side in the city. But oh no; it gets far more use as an annoying semi-headlamp while in motion.

Skeuomorph. Look at your everyday existence and tell me what it is that you see that is still around, but perhaps only in an aesthetic sense.

~M

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