Thursday, February 6, 2020

I Blame Bumper Stickers

*Compensated affiliate links used where possible at zero cost to you. No posts are ever sponsored or paid.*

I saw an interesting post on Facebook the other day that had something quite deep underlying it. 

My friend Christopher shared this post on Instagram to his Facebook page, and it generated a LOT of interest. 

Now before anyone gets mad about people punching people, hear me out. 

About ten years ago, I read a book about play. It's a REALLY important book about the role of play in shaping human and animal development. 

When animals and children are small, they learn absolutely essential behavioral norms more so through play than any other way. Whether it's role play, game play, or physical play, it establishes boundaries that will carry them through life in a way that makes them able to be around other humans (or animals), interacting normally and respectfully. 

The important thing about all of these types of play is that they have to take place in the physical presence of another human. When it does, play that crosses a boundary - a physical boundary, a verbal boundary, etc. - the person whose boundary has been crossed reacts, sending the message back to the player, telling that player that next time, they shouldn't do that. This happens over and over and over again until kids learn to be respectful humans who know which lines shouldn't be crossed, remembering the hurt that was caused the last time it was crossed, and not wanting to cause that pain again. 

I'm sure we can all remember a time when we saw a look on someone's face and thought - "wow, I shouldn't have said/done that - I caused that person discomfort." We remember that (unless we are sociopaths or psychopaths - more on that later) and we naturally don't want to do that again.

We get rolled around in this little play-based rock tumbler until we are as polished as we're going to be. 

But what this man found, is that there are TERRIBLE consequences for people who do not have play as a major feature of their childhood. One of them is a lack of problem solving skills - discovered by studying two groups of engineers - one of which had playful childhoods, and one of which was play-deprived in childhood. There was a significant difference in the ability to solve problems and be creative, with the playful group way outpacing the play deprived. 

But the darker outcome is what is referenced in the Instagram post. People who don't have a playful young life, never develop the social skills they need to be a part of civilized society - and there's even evidence that the author has described that play deprivation is something many murderers and other violent criminals have in common. Charles Whitman is one of the people whose play-deprived childhood he studied. 

The problem with social media is that we don't have that visual, tactile, auditory and every other sense of human reaction to what we are saying, posting or doing. So instead of learning that we are crossing other people's boundaries, we likely get silence, or blocked, and so we learn to just keep ratcheting that behavior up. I've seen it with my own two eyes. It's not a feedback loop like you have in person, so there are virtually no consequences. Some people even take being blocked or unfollowed as positive feedback, and the snowball grows. That's because being blocked online isn't nearly the same as being cut out of someone's life with whom you had an actual relationship, most of which was spent in each other's presence. So it makes sense that the consequence would carry less weight. 

But as a child of another time, I remember the first time I saw this creep into society, and it was with bumper stickers. I remember them becoming a thing, and at first it was smiley faces and peace signs. But in very short order, it began to become a way to yell things at people you couldn't see and get away with it in the privacy of your VW Bug. They got darker, more political, more controversial, more judgmental and divisive. Even as a child, I thought "why is this person's bumper SO MAD at me?"

The fact that they go on your back bumper, where the two of you humans have no chance of seeing each other's faces, says a lot about what type of message they are likely to have. Bumper stickers were the ORIGINAL zero feedback social media environment - throw a nasty comment out into the world, suffer zero consequences, and more importantly - never see the person's real reaction. 

It's an important concept. I've heavily curated my feed - and it's very pleasant! I am surrounded by kind, funny, creative people with pets, art and food. I think by the nature of what we do - for the most part - crafters are innately playful people, who keep in-person play in their lives well into their old age, and that's part of it. But that doesn't mean it's not out there, and more importantly, it doesn't mean that people shouldn't provide feedback so that those people can learn. I think the puzzle to solve is how that gets done in a non face-to-face world. I don't think we've figured that out yet. I can tell you comments, blocking and unfollowing don't achieve it. But I do have a great deal of faith that the pendulum will swing the other way, as it always does, and I am seeing signs in the generation of people just now leaving college and entering the workforce that they are already past not just social media as a "thing", but many of them are opting out of the whole phone culture, which will definitely make the world a better place, in my opinion. I think a lot of people's phones take the importance of a human being in their lives, and that makes me sad. I would be willing to bet you a dollar, that a very high percentage of the average time spent on a phone is spent looking at one's own face, not anyone else's - while making snapchat posts, FB lives and selfies. 

Life is short. Your phone won't take care of you when you're sick, feed your pets when you're late, tell you a story that changes your life, or just be really, really quiet when you accidentally fall asleep watching TV. :) And it won't tell you when you've done something hurtful or offensive, like another human's face will.

If only we could put that bumper sticker genie back in the bottle!

So speaking of play, that's what today's card is about. 

My friend Rubeena of The Gray Muse, sponsored my fall retreat with her amazing pins and sweet stamp sets. I didn't know what she was sending in advance, and when I saw this artistic cat image, I nearly squealed my own ears off. SO adorable. 

I just colored it with Copics and used my infinity dies for a black and white backdrop. The card base is a retired product from a company that's out of business, but guess what? You can use the chisel tip of your Copic to recreate this! It's so fun and playful - perfect for what's on my mind. She also has a set featuring dogs that is equally adorable - I've linked to both below.

Cats in the Craft Room Stamp Set |...
[ THG ]
Dogs in the Craft Room Stamp Set |...
[ THG ]
[ SSS ]
Art Anthology BIG CRAFT MAT 24x36 311473
[ SSS ]
Heavy Base Weight Card Stock- White
[ GNK ]
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSP | HA | SSS | ELH | MFT | UNT ]
Rotatrim Professional Series Cutter -...
[ BLIC ]
LightView 2in1 LED Magnifier for...
[ BRG ]
Teflon Bone Folder - Ellen Hutson LLC
[ ELH | SSS ]
Crafter's Companion GEMINI...
[ SSS ]
Scor-Pal MINI SCOR-BUDDY Scoring...
[ SSS ]
Essentials by Ellen Storage...
[ ELH ]
Die Storage - Clear Storage Pockets...
[ CHC ]
XL Stamp Storage Pockets
[ ELH ]
Mermaid tidy towel case and glue...
[ ETS ]
Lawn Fawn STAMP SHAMMY Cleaner LF1045
[ SSS | CST ]
Airtable: Organize your stamps & dies
[ ART ]

That cat's fat little hiney is so perfect.

Hope your week is going well and you have time to play.



  1. Love what you wrote here about bumper stickers and social media. You are spot on! I never thought about bumper stickers that way... but you are correct. And I love your kitty card! Those stamp sets are adorable. I love Rubeenađź’—

  2. Oh my goodness, This is sooooo cute! Thanks to your UNWIND retreat I am a big fan of The Gray Muse! I have purchased two grab bags and an extra pin and I love them. And now I want the stamp sets you are featuring today! That cat, oh my! That sentiment makes me smile all over! I just went for a short visit to see my mom and she has EVERY single card I have sent her on display. I also had the chance to meet my teenage niece who treasures my art just as much as my mom does. Makes it all the sweeter to mail out a card! :) What a great IG quote! I never thought about Bumper Stickers being the first one-sided attacks but it's true. I have 0 bumper stickers because I have always thought what a horrible example it might be if I didn't live up to what I put on there. I am only human, I am going to mess up so instead of touting something I just keep a clean back bumper. Kind actions are better than words!

  3. Love your card so, so much. As someone who works in a Primary school in the UK I share your concerns about social media. Jo x

  4. It's so true about bumper stickers, screens of any kind, and even emojis! Passive-aggressive is only the beginning. Onto nicer things - that cat is so cute!! And such a fun background. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Thank you......Kindness really does matter, doesn't it? :)

  6. I agree with all the words and am so heartened to see people looking for ways to actually interact with each other. It's a beautiful thing. And your art is my favorite. 🙂

  7. Thank you for this thoughtful post, very relevant for me as I have millennial offspring. As always I love your card art!

  8. Very cute card. I really like the background but didn't see a link to the die you used. Is it several dies arranged on the card or one die?

  9. Thanks for your thoughtful presentation. I didn’t know that about the importance of play, but it makes sense.
    I only use social media to follow card makers and that’s a very nice space to be in.

  10. This one resonated with me.
    I did studies in the 80s for college about the role of play in baby/young child development and how it was peekaboo teaches babies that out of sight is not truly gone and relieves anxiety. After certain events it was common to see upticks in cop and robbers on the streets etc

    It is true that kind of live play absolutely reinforces what parents teach us about manners, team work, hard work, fairness, honesty, and so on. That there are consequences to bad, inconsiderate behavior. How to deal with success, losing and failure.

    What a clever and real observation about bumper stickers. The only one I ever wanted would say "If you can read this you are too close". These days it would be that thing that electronically has words going across it whose name I cant remember now in my back window.

    How did I know you would love that stamp set? LOL

    Sadly people use the net to vent their personal issues with un-related comments and anger. It is a good thing people can filter that out.


  11. Loved your post and it is very thought-provoking. My son - 34 - is autistic and I see all this in him. He is glued to FB and I worry about that sometimes. May I share this on FB; will delete your name, if you wish. Thanks!

    1. Hi Linda! Feel free to share this post! You can also share from my FB page if you want.


Every time you leave a comment, a new LOLcat is born. ALSO - don't panic if you don't see your comment right away - I moderate my comments to keep those spammers out, so your comment will show up in short order. Unless you're linking me to Russian brides or Nigerian princes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...