I remember Ricky Gervais compared Twitter to the world’s largest bathroom wall, and comic actor Albert Brooks called it "The Devil's Playground." I have to agree with both of these men: it can get pretty vile out there, and that was even before 2016’s brilliantly refined exercise of political trash talking.
The presence of social media has been the blame for the deterioration of politeness, friendly, thoughtful debate, and good old-fashioned tact. Twitter is especially noisome, as Internet trolls (or bots), have only 140 characters and a meme to get their message across. Unfortunately, that message is often along the lines of berating a person or idea counter to one’s own. This "quip-tic" exchange has taken the place of actual conversation, and it is ugly.
However, this really is nothing new. Drivers have long known the most succinct — and blunt — way to express their opinions is through the mobile “tweet” known as the bumper or car sticker. Although these adhesive snippets of opinion have been around at least since the 1930s, I would wager these are about as much the cause of road rage as bad driving. Getting cut off by a bad driver is one thing, but one with a smarmy "COEXIST" sticker? That really chaps my backside.
I learned a long time ago, to keep my vehicle "out of the loop," and ignorant to everything that matters. Instead, I've turned the back of my SUV into clearing house for geeky pop culture references. Although I hope I'm a relatively deep-thinking individual, I'll let my car be as shallow and fun as possible.
Five things I've made a promise to myself never to slap on my car in sticker form include:
Political candidates. With a country as divided as this one, at least half the drivers I pass will vote from "across the aisle" regardless of who I vote support. There's fifty-fifty chance that person you are pulling up next to doesn’t like your choice, and now they don't like you, either.
The "Jesus fish." I’m a Christian. I admit it full out, but I don't want that fish-shaped testimony on the back of my car. On the off chance I'm the "bad driver" at a moment, I can't help but think that little silver fish is saying "Look at the hypocrite, everyone!"
Sports teams. I've learned the hard way, this is one of the quickest ways in some cities to get your car keyed. People take their team way to personally.
Parental bragging. I don’t think I'm hurting my child’s feeling by not telling the world they are honor students at their schools. Likewise, this whole "My Daughter and My Money Go To…" joke is no longer funny. Honestly, I'm not sure it ever was.
Stick figure families. Here we are, criminals! You already have our license plate, now here are our names to make it easier to look up our information. Oh, and yes, creepy predator in the van, our youngest child's name is Spencer, who apparently loves soccer. You can gather his trust, by letting him know you know his parents, "Ned and Rhonda," and his cat, Hiddles. What could possibly go wrong?
No one stuck behind me at red light will know if I’m a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent, but they will know I'm a certified member of the Zombie Outbreak Response Team, Rebel Alliance, and that I just may be The Stig. They won’t know my religion, but Whovians and everyone else will know my favorite Doctor (Nine).
Sharing polarizing social and political commentary, or pushing my values on others just isn't something I want to do tooling down the highway or dropping my kids off at school. Now, get me around a table with friends, and we’ll have a good discussion. I've been known by friends to sometimes wear my opinions on my sleeve, but you sure as heck aren't going to see them on my vehicle.