Bumper stickers.

You either love ’em or you hate ’em.

I suppose that some people are ‘bumper sticker people,’ and some people aren’t, I don’t intend to make any judgments either way. I’m more curious as to what drives (no pun intended) people to choose a bumper sticker as a vehicle (pun intended) of self-expression.

There are all sorts of bumper stickers that I see on my hour-long commute each morning and each evening. Some funny. Some serious.

The first category would be the Religious bumper sticker… Anything from the Christian Fish emblem, to “Honk if You Love Jesus,” to “WARNING: In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned!”

Next would be the Political bumper stickers: From the iconic “W,” to the “Support our Troops” ribbon magnets, to “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him,” to “Vote Mondale in ’84!” (maybe it’s time to peel that one off…).

Then the Proud Parent bumper stickers. “My child is an honor roll student at…”to “Baby on Board” to “Soccer Mom,” to “My child can beat up your honor student.”

The Organizational bumper stickers: From The Sierra Club to the US Marine Corp to the Poofy Poodle Owners of America Club.

The very popular Oval Destination stickers: OBX, CM, ADK, and any other acronym/abbreviation you can create for your favorite vacation spot or hometown.

I’m leaving so many out, I know, but that’s a pretty good sampling.

So what’s the draw? Why choose to express yourself in this way to total strangers? I think a few answers would be evangelism (Christian bumper stickers) and lobbying (political bumper stickers). But what about all the others? Why tell everyone that you’re a proud member of the NRA? Why slap the logo sticker of the local punk band on your bumper? Who are you interested in letting know that your minivan climbed Mt. Washington?

It’s a form of marketing, isn’t it? You’re marketing yourself, your interests, your passions, for others to read at 55 mph.

There are so many questions to raise regarding bumper sticker-ology… If you put a controversial bumper sticker on your car (ala Pro-Choice/Pro-Life) could you possibly be a catalyst of road rage? If you put a witty phrase that may take a minute to read and understand, could you possibly cause an accident? Do you think you might turn a Republican into a Democrat with your “Hillary 08” sticker? Are these even the right questions to be asking? Is it even about communicating to other people? Or is it more for yourself? Self-expression by way of Decoration of your vehicle. Bumper stickers have the aura of being a fad – yet they’ve been around for decades and seem to be as popular now as they were in the 70s and 80s. Why won’t they go away? Why should anyone care if you visualize whirled peas? Should they? Maybe not. What’s your take?