Attention: Those 'My Family' stickers on your car have a message.
I've noticed that more and more cars are displaying stick figure families on their back windshield. It seems to be a growing trend, not only in South Africa where I live, but also in the United States and Australia.
I must confess that I don't understand it. I'm far too private to update the world driving behind me on my family's status. I am, however, fascinated by the many variations I've seen and believe that each family sticker arrangement is sending out a message.
Here are five possible messages your family sticker is broadcasting:
1. We belong.
The story of the stickers is one of socially accepted identities and norms. The most commonly sold stick figures in South Africa are of a mom with shopping and hand bags and a dad holding a can (of beer, I assume) and barbeque-tongs with a piece of meat — both reflecting typical South African stereotypes.
2. We define family like THIS.
Your stickers also tell the world how you define 'family'. Do you include only your pets? Or EVERYONE? Some use this space to make a statement about their less stereotypical family — e.g. single parent or same sex partners.
3. We have issues.
The sticker you choose and where you place it on your car also sends a message. Every sticker reflects a choice and therefore a possible clue about issues in your family. For example, is technology sometimes a communication barrier? If the dog is stuck between the couple, how close are mom and dad? If the sticker of mom is placed highest, is mom the main decision maker of the family? If mom is placed in the center, surrounded by her children, is mom the center of the family? Where's dad?
4. We're rebels.
It's interesting that everyone has an opinion about or reaction to these stickers. Some drivers have even rebelled by adding their own anti-family stickers, either with a violent (brutally slain family members with blood gushing) or sexual message (practicing making a family), or making an ironic statement on the imperfection of families (overweight, drinking beer, doing drugs, etc.).