Internet Folklore

The Bumper Sticker application on Facebook is a program that allows people to search for different virtual bumper stickers that can be added to their profile or shared with friends.  The Bumper Sticker application has categories ranging from “Witticisms” to “Gangsta” to “Cute Animals”.  You can also view the most popular bumper stickers (the most popular has been sent 5,436,346 times), newly popular bumper stickers, and recently added bumper stickers.  Though the makers of the application created some of the bumper stickers, the majority of bumper stickers are created by Facebook users that upload them to the application.  Most bumper stickers are not specific to a certain individual (or if they are, it is a widely recognized person), but there are bumper stickers that are meant to be understood only by a select group of people.  Also, bumper stickers are constantly being created as events take place in the world or as pop culture phenomenons take place.  For instance, one very popular type of bumper sticker is the LOL Catz.  There are dozens of different pictures of the “catz” that you can share with your friends or add to your own profile.  Another popular type of bumper sticker involves the Greek fraternity/sorority system.  Recently, there have even been bumper stickers created about bumper stickers.  One such bumper sticker reads “Wow. The amount of bumper stickers you are sending me is beginning to get ridiculous.” and then in small print at the bottom says “and of course I love it”.

On the surface, it seems like the Bumper Sticker application is a fun way to waste time on the computer.  There are thousands of bumper stickers to browse and send to friends, in addition to the ability to create your own bumper sticker that you can upload and share with others.  However, the bumper sticker application is so revolutionary because it is a digestible piece of pop culture that can be spread instantaneously.  For instance, as the democratic candidacy race has intensified during recent months, there has been a large amount of bumper stickers that feature people from the Democratic Party.  One memorable bumper sticker shows the faces of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, and underneath reads “Bros before Hoes”.  Like many bumper stickers, this one is humorous yet vulgar, and clearly aimed at a fairly young audience (teens through early twenties).  Despite the crudeness of this bumper sticker, it’s popularity shows that this audience still cares about political issues but has a unique way of conveying this.

Bumper stickers are also used to share jokes and similar interests with friends.  There is an entire category of bumper stickers that feature “life lessons” quotes, and it is very popular for friends to send these to one another as a testimony of the strength of their friendship.  An example of this is the most popular bumper sticker shared on facebook, which reads “My friends are the kind that if my house was burning down, they would be making s’mores and hitting on the firemen.”  Again, this bumper sticker illustrates the common theme of humor mixed with a bit of truth, which makes it especially fun to share with friends.  As a result, many people have a wide variety of bumper stickers displayed on their facebook profiles that are from different friends and contain various inside jokes, funny images, or even a beautiful scenic image.

Especially since the Bumper Sticker application allows users to both share and upload their own creations, the application can be considered a means of transmitting cultural values and establishing individual or group identity.  People display quotes or images that they feel represent their personality, and also keep bumper stickers sent by friends that have a special meaning.  By looking at a person’s bumper sticker collection, it is possible to learn something about the likes and dislikes of a person, as well as their sense of humor.

I have a fairly extensive bumper sticker collection, and I really enjoy finding bumper stickers that remind me of my friends.  I love the feeling of reading a bumper sticker and saying “That is so true!”  I think that this feeling is shared by other users of the application, and helps explain why it is such a popular feature on Facebook.  Also, since the primary users of Facebook are in their teens and twenties, the application is especially popular because it appeals to the tastes of that audience; bumper stickers are easy to find and send, there are both images and text, and bumper stickers are small and do not contain a lot of information on any given image.  As a result, bumper stickers have become increasingly popular and have even become a topic of conversation outside the realm of facebook.  I have had multiple conversations with friends about a hilarious bumper sticker, or about an idea for a bumper sticker that has not been made yet.  Although the application may seem trivial, it actually has served as a unifying force when talking with friends or even people I have just met.  Also, it has helped distinguish my group of friends from other groups because we all share certain bumper stickers that display group interests and inside jokes.