Blog 5: What contemporary objects can be both a tool and a weapon?

With the help of technology, each and every contemporary object can be both a tool and a weapon. Distinguishing between a tool and a weapon, simply put, is a matter of function and intent. In my opinion, this is an interesting topic because of the gray area that exists between the two. John Cline uses the example of the iphone, which seems to be, these days, the symbol of technology in the 21st century as an example of an object that may be used as weapon. While I agree with Cline, I must go a step further: Every contemporary object can be both a tool and a weapon.

In elementary school, my classmates and I were rather fond of rubber band balls. We would collect all the rubber band balls we could find and stretch them around each other until we possessed a bouncing ball. It was the perfect disguise for us. During school hours, we were innocent school children being creative, but after school… it was all out war. When the last bell of the day rang, and we were released to walk home, those rubber bands were unwound, stretched back as far as they could go, and released at the nearest ten-year-old boy we could find. Occasionally, if you thought you could recover your ball, you would just throw the whole thing at your friend’s head.

Did our teacher know that the simple tool she used to group pencils with was being used as weapons after school? If she did, she sure put on a good show after a parent found us out and notified her. Mrs. Hatch yelled at us for what felt like 30 minutes, and needless to say, we never received another rubber band.

What was the difference between the rubber band balls we made in class and the rubber bands we flung at each other? We changed the rubber bands function and intent. Any contemporary object can be used as weapon with the right amount of creativity. For instance, a book is a simple tool for learning, but let Clayton Kershaw throw it at you, and I guarantee the next time you see him with a book in his hand, you will perceive it as a weapon.

In Oculomotor Examination of the Weapon Focus Effect: Does a Gun Automatically Engage Visual Attention?, Heather D. Flowe, Lorraine Hope, and Anne P. Hillstrom explore the notion of a person being less likely remembered if they appear in a visual seen with a gun. They conclude: “An image of a gun did not engage attention to a larger extent than images of other types of objects (i.e., a pocket watch or tomato). The results suggest that context may be an important determinant of WFE. The extent to which an object is threatening may depend on the larger context in which it is presented.”


But, Why is this? In my opinion, when people see a gun, they perceive fear and the only thing they are worried about is safety. This isn’t the case with all contemporary tools. While many contemporary tools have the ability to be used as weapon, the tool actually being a weapon is a matter of one’s perception of its function and intent.




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2 thoughts on “Blog 5: What contemporary objects can be both a tool and a weapon?”

  1. Brandin,
    I agree with your idea about intention. The rubber band is a good example. I still shoot people with rubber bands. Coasters, for instance, make great ninja stars. A receipt can be turned into a noise maker that makes the worst, high-pitched screech you can imagine. A beer bottle becomes a jagged, desperate weapon. An umbrella becomes a club. The list goes on. Most all of these items evoke no inherent fear– I’m glad you brought up the idea of a gun. What about toy guns? Some of them look real enough to get a person shot– sometimes the lines between intention and function become blurred, which ties back in with the article on machetes. Good work.

  2. Yes, the overall point does usually seem to rely on the users intent. I like your example and explanations. I think you did a great job of expressing that the issue is very simple rather then complex.

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