Thanks to the Internet, we have an endless amount of knowledge at our fingertips. But there are some things out there that even the Internet can’t help us to learn about. That includes things such as the “cool S,” that silly symbol you doodled all over your school books. Even though people have tried to find its meaning, this is all we know about it.
There are many people who have theories about the origins of the S, but most of them seem far-fetched. Some people think that it’s a paranormal symbol used to attract forces from other realms. There are others that believe it’s used for magical protection. Some people even think that the symbol is used for mind control since they think it’s usually drawn after being told to do so. And it looks like people start drawing it at a specific age.
A strange trend started to surface once online forums began having discussions on the meaning and origin. Hundreds of people commented that they remembered starting to draw the symbol when they reached the age of 14. Because of this, paranormal theories began to gain speed and many people became convinced that it was somehow a part of the occult. But the symbol wasn’t just popular with Wiccans and goths.
High schools are full of cliques and it seems like the S symbol infiltrated all of them. But that didn’t stop each group from claiming the symbol as their own. “In South FL we called it a ‘surfer’s S’,” wrote a user on Reddit. “In 1994, it was impossible to draw one if you were a poseur.” But the symbol showed up long before the 90s did.
For some time, people believed the symbol showed up during the 80s. But that can’t be true, considering older people know the symbol, as well. One man who graduated in1975 remembered the S symbol being around in the 60s. Another person’s parents remembered the symbol from the 50s and they thought it was the symbol for a high school nearby. But the symbol isn’t just seen in America.
The discussions about the origins of the S began in the United States, but quickly people from all over the world were telling their own experiences of drawing or seeing the symbol. People from Sweden, New Zealand, Egypt, Yemen, and Australia all reported seeing the S when they were children. Some people even remembered the symbol becoming forbidden.
As odd as it may be, the S was eventually banned from school, and the students were punished if they drew it. Because the symbol was used as a gang symbol for some gangs in America, the symbol was considered a gang sign. Considering that the symbol came before any of the gangs, it’s assumed that they just used it as their own, and didn’t actually create it. Some people think the symbol has corporate origins.
There are some people who assume the S has to be a logo, and there are even some theories about which company owns it. Some claim the symbol belongs to a hair metal band. It could be Saxon or Styx, but that depends on who you’re talking to. There are others who think it belongs to Suzuki. But most people think that the S is the brand for the surfwear company Stussy.
A writer for Vice, Julian Morgans, got into contact with Stussy to find out the truth. “I personally get asked this a lot, but people have been drawing this S long before Stussy was established. No, this is not an original Stussy logo,” said longtime Stussy employee, Emmy Coates. In fact, the company was founded in the 1980s. There is one theory that links the origins of the symbol to one of the most famous superheroes ever.
If you asked a bunch of your friends what this symbol is called, there’s a good chance some will say “Superman S.” The library manager at DC comics, Benjamin LeClear, has disproved that theory. “It doesn’t look like any of the emblems from the old Superman Shield logos. His ‘S’ has a lot of open space and almost never connects to itself,” said LeClear. That characteristic could actually be a clue!
There is one theory about the symbol’s global reach. Some people think it looks like the infinity symbol. It could even be a variation of the timeless symbol, which links the tails of the S back to the center, making it look continuous. Even though the shape doesn’t have any reflective symmetry, it does have 2-fold rotational symmetry and tessellates with squares. Maybe there was more to it, so an expert was consulted.
Julian Morgans spoke to a professor of Language and Media at Middlesex University, Paul Cobley. He gave a reasonable explanation as to why people enjoy drawing it so much. “The reason kids go through this is probably because it’s a Moebius strip. It can’t be drawn continuously, but it does have a perpetual flow,” explained Cobley. But what is a Moebius strip?
A Moebius strip is a single-surfaced, looped shape that has only one boundary. Because the boundary is a closed curve, there are a lot of geometric sizes, shapes and versions that can be made. You can make one by taking a strip of paper, twisting it once, and then connect the ends. Maybe this theory of Cobley’s is the closest we’ll ever get to the truth of the infamous S symbol.
The mysterious S has been drawn by people from all over the world for decades. People may have their theories on where it comes from, but no one has any proof. It seems doubtful that the symbol has any paranormal or magical power, but until we know exactly where it came from, we’ll never know the truth. But that doesn’t mean anyone is going to stop talking about it.
There is one thing that we do know: the symbol is nostalgic for those who grew up with it. A man from Australia posted a photo on Twitter of the S drawn with chalk on the sidewalk of his son’s school. People couldn’t believe that kids were still drawing it. People must have been feeling nostalgic because the man’s post was shared over 40,000 times.
Even though we have no idea where this symbol comes from, it seems like most people agree that it was created in a school setting. Why is that? Because it’s really easy to draw the symbol on lined paper. It begins as a puzzle. Kids are given two rows of three vertical lines and are challenged to create an S using only straight lines. And we sure know how much kids love puzzles.