Historical Events  Science
Objects in the rear view mirror

How close are they?

MMDE: Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear

Current: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

Is this one related to the Meatloaf song? This warning has been printed on the glass of car wing mirrors for many years. The problem is the wording, for some people, has changed. They remember it as the one in the song, which was "may be" whereas now it's always "closer".

The line from the song doesn't exactly fit - it is actually "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are", but that's near enough to lodge in people's memories to conflate the two.

Unless they've never heard of the song, of course...

Seen daily

Drivers the world over will likely see this message hundreds of times a day, so it's a big shock form them to find out it says something other than they remember. For many, it will not be important because they'd not paid attention to the detail in the first place, but for those who have, and then find it's suddenly different, the shock can be quite disconcerting.

There's a curious reason people are giving for it having changed. Kids get bored on long car journeys, so the keep them occupied it's common to play word games, such as I Spy. Another game is the alphabet game where someone sees a particular word, and the others have to find out where it is. You can see where this is going. If they chose "may", and said it was because of the message on the car mirror, where was it if the word was missing?

The movie Jurassic Park  makes a point of the wording for dramatic emphasis. If it had said "may be" would the T-Rex chasing them seem as scary?

jurassic park mirror 300x255

Here's YouTuber Brian MacFarlane's take on this: