Monday, March 7, 2011

sound bites & bumper stickers

As I was driving to Meeting yesterday, I noticed some bumper stickers, license plate frame tags, and suchlike. A few related thoughts;

  • If a sentiment is short enough to put on your bumper, it's probably not complex enough to contain your whole life.
  • Do you think that anybody ever changed a closely held point of view based on a bumper sticker? I don't. I think that one of the purposes of bumper stickers is to tell other people what team you support. "It's not a choice, it's a baby", "Go Giants", and that Darwin fish thingy (and the many permutations thereof) are all saying the same thing: "These are the people I want to be associated with."
  • Another purpose of bumper stickers is to show off how humorous and edgy (or straight edge and middle-of-the-road) one is. Or that one has knowledge of esoterica. (It's not strictly a bumper sticker, but I love the door mats that make reference to, because I know what the reference is. In fact, I remember that I always thought the cartoons in French magazines were funnier, when I got them in high-school French class, but that was probably just snobbery that I got the jokes. But that's not really about bumper stickers or sound-bite philosophy, is it?)

Quaker meeting parking lots are full of bumper stickers (earnest ones, I'm afraid; not usually witty or snarky ones -- although there are often esoteric ones; the Quakes attract a certain set of intellectual snobs, of which I am one). Twelve-step folks also tended to do a lot of bumper stickers in the 80's & early 90's (& may still, but I no longer have the depth of experience I did then). I suspect that quantity of bumper stickers (or message t-shirts, or suchlike stuff) is directly proportional to some kinds of social needs. I have problems with attachment, and no bumper stickers, and the only place I wear message t-shirts is to bed, in lieu of pajamas.

(This was going to be a Jennings quote, but it got too long.)

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