This article first appeared on WA Today, The Age, SMH, Brisbane Times etc.
News coming out of America is that ‘My Family’ stickers are putting wholesome family units at risk of attack from predators, robbers and other nefarious types.
If you’ve been nowhere near a road in the last four years, or you’ve been fortunate enough never to notice them, these warnings are related to the stick figure stickers people purchase and attach to their rear windows, in an effort to show how special and different their family is through the use of a two-dimensional, mass-producible, cartoon form.
American authorities are warning that based on the stickers you’ve chosen, you could be revealing hints about your schedule and what time you’re likely to be home.
The worry is that these stickers reveal so much about your family, that potential wrongdoers will have all the information they need to do you wrong.
Information that also could be found be stealing your mail, going through a bin, or if you don’t want to leave the house, just glancing at a Facebook profile.
The authorities will probably next suggest frequently changing your route to and from home, wearing a disguise and never using your real name.
Recommended replacements may include: ‘pumpkin’, ‘ghost rider’ and ‘Larry’.
They are everywhere, so surely they should have some evidence. There isn’t any, which means that this isn’t news at all.
The underlying message here is: ‘Your family could be in danger’.
It doesn’t matter that there’s no actual news here, by hitting upon that fear, everyone from the authorities who first released this piece of information to the newsrooms who keep reporting it know that people will listen not because it is at all useful, but because nobody wants to be thought of as a bad parent.
Luckily, since all the family members are represented by sticks, nothing is revealed about any family eating habits.
Apparently stick figures were chosen due to the rapidly growing obesity rates around the world. If the stickers were instead an accurate representation of the size of most families, it is doubtful that more than one member would fit on the back window of any car.
While these stickers don’t pose any risk to your family safety, I do think that they say plenty about your family.
At four dollars a sticker, they point out that your family is wealthy enough to waste money on absolute garbage, so might be worth robbing.
However, the stickers also suggest you’ve got such poor taste, so there’s unlikely to be anything in your home worth stealing.
They’re also very handy for knowing which cars to give a wide berth to on the road, and who never to ask to dinner parties. Not because they have children, but because they feel a need to let strangers know of their achievements using bland, overpriced and generic adhesive stick figures.
The same rules apply to anyone with a ‘baby on board’ sign.
Every time I see one of those signs I put down my bottle of bourbon, and stop driving erratically. Or the opposite.
Last week I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen since high school, and he proudly showed me his brand new ‘people mover’.
So I asked him, ‘If your car is a people mover, what the hell does every other car do?’ I suggested that he should call a ‘people mover’ what it really is. A car for people who don’t properly know how to use contraception.
On the back of his car was a ‘My Family’ sticker.
He informed me that you can now get these stickers for all sorts of families, and relationships, and situations. So after spending ten minutes summarising his life achievements to that point, this guy asked me, ‘If you had a car, which stickers would you put on the back?’
I told him I had no idea, as I didn’t have a wife, children or any pets.
So he suggested that my personal sticker would just be a picture of me, with a thought bubble with a pretty girl in it, and surrounded by used tissues.
Then he laughed, and drove away.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.