It is time for a new entry in our long-running Justin and Justina dialogue series. Today we find Justin and Justina walking in Brooklyn on an unusually cool June afternoon (Justin maintains that hot and cold are states of mind). Their conversation is interrupted by a car speeding down the street while honking at nothing in particular. Why do cars honk for no reason? This is the kind of question that Justina is likely to raise. It is also the kind of question that Justin is likely to answer (for better or worse). Let us learn about cars, honking, and being seen.

Justin and Justina On Car Horns and Being Seen

Justina: Why is that guy honking? There’s no one in front of him.
Justin: Are you asking me?
Justina: No.

Public domain of a car driving on a winding street in a residential area from Openclipart.
Public domain image from Openclipart.

Justin: The answer is the second cousin thrice removed of the answer to the question we examined about bright headlights last year.
Justina: I said I wasn’t asking!
Justin: These people – they want to be seen.
Justina: You mean like me on Instagram?
Justin: I thought you weren’t asking.
Justina: Oh right.
Justin: It may be even more depressing than your social media habits.
Justina: You’re making it sound appealing.
Justin: Imagine we have Jim driving along, right?
Justina: Another name starting with “J” – alright.
Justin: Well technically your name doesn’t begin with J – but I can’t go through that again.
Justina: Of course.
Justin: It’s a big world out there. Big city here. You know? Who cares about Jim?
Justina: No one?
Justin: That’s exactly right.
Justina: Wow. Is he on Insta?
Justin: He is.
Justina: Man.
Justin: So why does he honk?
Justina: So someone will care about him?
Justin: It’s darker than that.
Justina: Really?
Justin: Yeah. He just wants to be seen for a moment. Or heard, but the same idea. See we just noticed Jim. People who live along this block, they heard Jim.
Justina: But they don’t know it’s Jim…
Justin: That’s ok. They know it’s someone. Jim knows it’s Jim. He feels validated now. His existence has been validated.
Justina: He’s screaming into the void.
Justin: Yeah, not to mention these people don’t even know what validate means. Misusing words is dangerous, kids. That’s why we have so much honking and other nonsense.

(As Justin finishes saying “nonsense,” a car blasting profane rap with a subwoofer drives through.)

Justina: Is that guy also trying to be seen?
Justin: Yes. He should be seen.
Justina: What do you mean?
Justin: Did you know that our detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was originally designed for people who blast profane music with subwoofers in residential areas?
Justina: You made that up, didn’t you?
Justin: Society can’t stand for this.

(As Justin finishes saying “this,” a car alarm goes off.)

Justina: That alarm is so loud! There’s no one in the car. Do you have some kind of ridiculous explanation for this too?
Justin: Shush.
Justina: Excuse me?
Justin: This is the song of my childhood in New York City – back in the good old days.