When my wife and I took our first trip to California before we moved here, we saw a large population of Asian Americans in San Francisco. We had come West from Massachusetts, partly because the state we lived in felt like it was still attached to a round world, and we were seeking the new flat world.
California fit that more modern heterogeneous model of a flat world state.
As we were driving down to Big Sur, we passed a number of schools where the crosswalk had the letters “XING” stenciled onto the roadway in large white letters.
After seeing them a number of times, I turned to my wife and said “See all those “XING” words in the crosswalks?”
“Yes I have,” she answered “and I’ve been wondering what they mean.”
Now by nature, and hopefully nurture as well, I am not a nasty person prone to pranks or wisecracks, put-downs or practical jokes. But for some reason I couldn’t resist. Maybe the devil made me do it …
“Well “XING” is Chinese for “Be Careful”. It tells all the Asian American kids who can’t speak good English yet that they need to watch out when they cross the road.”
“That’s really nice. I knew I liked California, they would never do something like that back home.”
“That’s right,” I told her. “Only in California.”
For the rest of the trip, every time we passed a school and drove across a crosswalk, we would sing in unison “XING” (sounds like Shing, only hold the end for a few seconds).
Until she finally figured it out. “XING”was nothing more than a shortened version of “CROSSING”, like Xmas is a shortened version of Christmas.
After that trip, whenever one of us would fake the other one out, the Faker had the right to say “XING”, as in “Gotcha”, to the Fakee.
Now what on earth, flat or round, does this have to do with Internet Copywriting?
If you’ve read this far, you were hooked by the story. And if I was selling “XING” soap or, more likely, a “XING” web marketing scam, you might be well on your way to becoming one of The Converted.
So here’s the lesson and the real meaning of “XING”.
Great or even good storytelling is one of the most powerful and seductive ways a Copywriter can take control of your mind. So be careful where you put your brain.
If you let a great Copywriter lead you down the garden path, if you give your self over to someone’s compelling story, before you know it you’ll be hitting that “Buy Now” button.
Then again, it might just be worth it to pay for the entertainment.
P.S. I’d also bet you won’t forget the new meaning of “XING” for a long time.
P.P.S. I also know that if you tried to sing it the way I told you, you’ll probably hear it inside your head the next time you drive across a crosswalk marked “XING”.