For those of you unaware, there is a major election season occurring in the United States. During this time, Twitter has become the breaking news alert system for latest campaign gaffes. Furthermore, this is the time when you get a clue as to what the car to your right, that is cutting people off without even using a turn signal, is thinking. Or rather, you get a glimpse into what the car owner may be thinking about the state of the union. And I readily admit I make assumptions about the car owners based on the bumper car stickers. But that is what is intended,correct?
Forest P. Gill, a silkscreen printer from Kansas City, is credited with coming up with the first bumper sticker in the 1940s. You might have heard there was a major war going on back during that time. By the 1960 presidential election, bumper stickers were everywhere. Psychologically, bumper stickers make sense. You want an idea to spread, stick it onto something that others will see. What better way to literally spread an idea than on the back of a car. As more and more people commute to work for more than 30 minutes, ideas have some germination time.
This is an aside, but I love the television show the Gilmore Girls and there was a scene where Lorelei arrived late to a Friday night dinner because she honked at someone who had a “please honk if…” bumper sticker on their car. She honked and madness ensued. See, Lorelai was testing whether people with ‘honk if you love…’ bumper stickers really want you to honk. They don’t. So, why post such a bumper sticker? I’m getting to my experience with the bumper sticker. .
For the first time ever in my life, I made a political campaign contribution. I was so moved by what I thought was a great, significant speech. Plus, I liked the gift item that was associated with that political contribution moment. Then the media made a crazy media storm around the candidate, and I felt motivated to make another contribution. And with that contribution came a bumper sticker.
The bumper sticker is still in its envelop on one of my cabinets. I looked at it yesterday and shook my head to myself. No. No, I was not going to take the bumper sticker and place it on my car. First off, since, I don’t drive, it’s technically not my car. Although, I’m on the household insurance and I helped pay for it, it’s not my car per se. Thus, if I put a bumper sticker on the car, I will be making someone else, the person with the actual driver’s license, serve as a megaphone my beliefs.
Second, bumper stickers seem to be a bit too much commitment. Do you really want to mar a car with some words that may seem foolish a few years from now? What if you put the bumper sticker on today and tomorrow that candidate says the most abhorrent thing ever? You really want people with heavy machinery going 60 miles per hour to associate those abhorrent thoughts with you?
It’s also not just about political candidates. There are bumper stickers with all sorts of supposedly insightful, pithy sayings and motivations. Occasionally one does make me laugh and I thank the driver for that moment of levity. But more often than not, the stickers are silly and really not that pithy. I may find myself pitying the person. You know what bumper sticker I don’t understand: The ones announcing your kid is on the honor roll. Talk about pressure. You put that on there and the kid now has to perform well every semester. No slacking or else you will have to find a way to peel off that sticker. And then the nosy neighborhood person will ask you where did the bumper sticker go. Do you want to deal with the ups and downs of kid academics and setting your kid up to be shamed by the act of peeling a sticker?
Bumper stickers are too much pressure. They represent an act of commitment that I do not think our ADD society can quite tolerate any longer. Its best to “stick” with a tag line or cover photo for your Facebook page that you can easily swap in and out. And in doing so, people just think you are showcasing your many sides. So, instead of a bumper sticker for my political contribution,I would prefer a shotglass. If you win, I can celebrate. If you lose, I can drown my sorrows.