Here’s number 5,482 in the list of things that annoy me: spurious “caring.”
I hate it when tragic events or circumstances are ingeniously transformed into marketable logos and products. It just infuriates me to see the clever 5-sided “9/11” logo which has now been slapped on everything from bumper stickers to golf shirts. Only in America could we create a merchandising industry around a horrific terrorist attack in which 3,000 people were murdered. My own state has license plates that say “Fight Terrorism.” Do you think that the people who plunk down an extra $20 a year for these plates believe that they are a vital link in that fight by displaying that message?
Nope. People who display that plate, that 9/11 sticker, or those annoying and unreadable magnetic ribbons proclaiming “Support our troops!” are merely looking for validation through a spurious bout of what they think is patriotism. They must seriously believe that by sticking a magnetic sign on their car (and why is it almost always through cars that people express this nonsense?) they appear to their fellow citizens to be a good person and a caring individual. Each time I see a car with one of those ribbons stuck to the trunk — sometimes 1, sometimes 3 or more — I want to slam into the rear of the car and ask the driver, “What have you really done to support our troops? Buying that crap only supports corporations and the current status quo… you know, soldiers with no armor getting killed.”
Add to this another new marketing phenomenon, the colored bracelet. Like the proliferation of ribbons a decade ago, the rainbow of wrist bands purport to support various causes but are in fact another fad. The me-tooism of our culture means that people are snapping up bracelets without really knowing what cause they support… or, in fact, if they support a cause at all. People just want to appear to be supportive without actually having to do anything.
Why all the desperation for these trinkets, basically fancy rubber bands? The ones at Cloud 9 are stamped with slogans showing support for people with breast cancer (the pink ones) and autism (the light blue ones). Did Sergio buy them to support these causes? Did the fourth-grader buy the dark blue one he also wears to show he wants to “Stand Strong for Israel”?
The boy’s explanation was pretty much the definition of a schoolyard fad.
“Every kid I know has at least one. Most of them have 10 or 11,” Sergio said. “It’s fun to try and get all the colors.”