When we think of situational awareness, we tend to only take our surroundings into consideration. But it is much more than that. Situational awareness includes awareness of what you are projecting to the world. Everything from the way you dress to the bumper stickers on your vehicle tells the world a lot about you. Do you always have to be the gray man? Or is it ok to share some personality? We recently took to social media for your opinion.
What Do Your Bumper Stickers Tell the World About You?
Back when bumper stickers and other general car stickers were hitting the scene, they were a novel idea. Military bumper stickers were a great way to show pride in your service and sports team bumper stickers showed support for the home team. But things were simpler back then. Obviously, there have always been troubled souls, but it seems to be much worse today. Especially with the current direction of political discourse. Not to mention cities that have dramatically rising crime and others that are going soft on crime.
However, not everyone is convinced that there is an inherent risk. One person asks the question, “Has there ever been even one documented case of any criminal targeting a person because of a sticker they placed on their vehicle?”
The obvious answer here is, there are many documented cases of stalking. Whether they specifically used bumper stickers to learn about their victim may not be documented. But it is known that stalkers use everything they can to learn about their intended victim. They are interested in their habits, schedule, family life, etc. It is how they know the best time and place to attack. And bumper stickers are good indicators of all of those things.
Know Your Audience
Additionally, there are plenty of cases of vehicles suffering damage due to political decals. A quick Google search provides a list of stories.
This led one commentor to state, “None of the above. No political, religious, military or gun bumper stickers either. Too many crazies out there that might take exception to one of them and trash my car.”
Additionally, you never know who’s looking, as one reader points out:
“To each his own, but it really surprises me when folks advertise their hobbies and interests, like putting Glock or S&W stickers on their tailgate. It makes for an easy target, especially in places where you are not legally allowed to carry.”
The Gray Man
Although sharing our interests with others is a part of connecting with those around us, perhaps an innocuous approach is best. Adopting gray man principles is very easy and prevents undue attention and potential harm.
One reader clearly practices this principle, “Well, you can tell I’m driving a Toyota. That’s about IT! I also don’t wear clothing with logos or “Tacticool” outfits. “Blend In” is pretty much my motto!”
However, one comment points out that others do not live by this philosophy, “I saw a car with a prestige license plate that said “I Carry”…”
Likewise, pro gun bumper stickers and anti gun control bumper stickers tell would-be criminals that you might have a firearm stored in the parked vehicle. You might never store a gun in a car that you are not currently in. However, criminals won’t know that until after they have broken into the vehicle.
Even though it’s a serious subject, levity keeps us human, and these two comments were worth sharing for comic relief:
“Can’t go wrong with a Grateful Dead sticker though. ;)”
“I don’t even let the dealer put their sticker on my vehicle unless they are willing to pay a monthly advertising fee.”
Is There a Legitimate Safety Aspect?
One reader questions the emergency messaging aspect of family decals for your car. Do stick family window decals or baby on board signs help first responders? Or is it still more risk than reward?
The reader posits, “Technically, the baby on board stickers are to alert emergency personnel [to] ensure they look for tiny ones during accidents. I recognize they signal other things to people, but having seen some of these accidents firsthand, I would take my chances rather than not have the paramedics or firefighters know to look for a child and/or car seat. And yes, there are accidents where it is almost impossible to tell there was a car seat.”
What Do You Reveal on Social Media?
Although not related to bumper stickers, social media can be even worse at giving up too much information. Many people like to post photos from their vacation, while still on vacation, letting thieves know they are not home. Likewise, people like to post photos from their child’s school event, letting potential stalkers know where their child goes to school. Not to mention, letting them know what their child looks like and their name.
“People should be more worried about what they post on Facebook than what’s on the back of the car,” states one reader.
One commentor points out the obvious trouble with giving too much information on social media, “None of the [above.] [But] what really should concern [you,] and everyone in FB [land,] is all the crap people post about the new firearm they [purchased.] [Or] look at my gun collection or what my preferred EDC is. That is dumber than anything you could stick on the back of your vehicle.”
Sometimes what you post to social media surpasses the risk of stalkers or burglars and turns into self-incrimination:
“Just my license plate that says YB NICE and the bowtie of my Chevy. Message – I don’t care and I can dispose of the body. :D”
Likewise, the two people that liked this post now have a record of supporting violent extremism and domestic terrorism in the eyes of a now hostile government. Whether it is true or not, this could be used against you in the event you are ever investigated. Always learn to see through the eyes of those that despise you.
Privacy is Generally the Best Policy
Regardless of whether it is the information you provide on your vehicle or the information you provide on social media, be careful what you tell the world. You never know who is looking and what they plan to do with that information.