The Ghost of an Object

This morning I went down an internet rabbit hole when learned of the existence of “Thing Theory.” (Wikipedia. Original article.)

I’m pretty sure the example I’m about to give is a “thing,” but it’s a ghost “thing.”

I go to a bar most Fridays for happy hour. For years they had a sign hanging over the middle of the bar with an arrow pointing down and the words “Order Here.” Months ago, maybe a year ago now, the sign disappeared. And yet, people still line up in the same spot to order.

Part of this is that the regulars got in the habit, and newcomers quickly saw where the line was forming and followed suit. The system is slowly breaking down, so I note that more and more often people will approach the bar like most bars. Sidle up to an empty spot, get the bartender’s attention, and order. However, if they see a line has formed, they get in it.

This behavior is controlled by a sign that no longer exists. We were once guided by an object (the sign saying “Order Here”) but when that sign vanished we were still guided by its echo.

If “an object becomes a thing when it can no longer serve its common function” (according to the Wikipedia distinction between object and thing) then is this sign a ghost thing?

How many ghost things influence our lives?

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