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The dreaded lines

Lines are interesting natural-occurring and man-made phenomena that structure our thinking and provides sensemaking both in the spatial and metaphorical.

A line not only appears on purpose by drawing it or through construction, but also simply through being the contrast or border of two separated parts. Take the horizon. A line that separates air from land. And in an unobstructed view both needs to be present in the field of view for it to appear. Ask a child to draw the horizon and all you will get is a line. There is a lot of beauty in lines, a golden hour horizon is one of the most photographed scenic views, and it is the line that provides this eclipse.

Lines have given us the means to position ourselves on this flying space rock. The invention of latitudes and longitudes have opened up the world and allowed us to become the complex societies with all its gory magnificence. Outside of navigation, there are fault lines that are of great geographical importance, they are often the epicentre of earthquakes to devastating effect or places rich for delving and mining.

In our digital world, lines have also enshrined their importance even though technological advancements have made them obsolete. I can be online, without being connected by cable or wire. Or during a mobile phone call you are talking to the person on the other side of the non-existent line. Somehow, we still talk about a line being dropped, dropped where? LINE is also the name of Japan’s most popular texting service.

Metaphorically a line designates a boundary or calls special attention to something. You can draw the line, cross a line, or even emphasise by underlining or laying it on the line. A silver lining denotes the good of two parts.

Being on either side of a line is often desirable, and even stating that something is along the lines of can provide guidance to abstract discussions. Strangely enough however, the line itself is a zone to be avoided. No one likes walking a thin line, but the last you should do is putting your neck on to it.

In the examples above lines separates, emphasises, or connects, but if we look further a line also purposes one part that is seen and one unseen. What hides behind the lines? The enemy?

That said, I think we can all agree that in this day and age the most feared line is the one that can truly separate you from your, friends, family, or work. Even if it’s a pale line, barely observable. The line under that letter T from Test, is the most dreaded.