Times have changed. No, I’m not talking about the last few months but even on a longer time frame, things have changed. There are a lot of things that we have moved on from. This is not about that. This is about the things that have remained the same. One specific thing that has stayed a constant in life, in Bangalore in the last decade that I have seen this city. Road Rage. Very specifically, swearing in the roads. Yes, there are a few improvements in swearing over the years, there’s a little less Kannada and a lot more English on the roads now but at it’s essence it has remained the same. At it’s core, swearing on the road is very simple. An act of outrage or outburst of emotion against a fellow human being which generally involves calling them names which might or might not involve lineage. But, does it have to be? I mean, we are no longer on mopeds and Maruti 800s on the roads right? This got me thinking, the idea of swearing is to make the other person feel bad for their actions, correct? Then what’s the use of shouting fancy English swears at people who might not understand it? Also, what if you call someone a jerk and they’re actually a jerk, then you’re merely stating a fact here and they’re going to take it and move on. It doesn’t affect them in anyway. Waste of time, waste of energy and you’re going to get it back from all the traffic you’re holding up for this.
If my browser can show me ads for a month about a Baygon Bug spray just because I searched for it once, then why can’t swearing be personalized? I mean, Bangalore is known to be technologically savvy. Why aren’t we being creative about it? I mean, we getting on with the times right?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and how does one go about doing it? Let’s go back to the example, how does the ads in the browser work, it picks cookies from search which is basically a tiny bit of additional information about your likes and dislikes or something you are interested in right now from your search history. How about we apply the same thing in our case? What do we know about the driver to personalize the swear? The make of car, is too broad and the registration number is too numeric to make up anything about, “Hey! You! Driving a prime number car!” doesn’t evoke any emotion. Thinking of altering your language to the registration of the car is another option but then again, not all KA car drivers know Kannada and it’s difficult for you to learn all the Indian languages. A swear at the end of the day has to be emotional, it needs to touch the nerve right? There is one thing, the one that stares at your face most of the times, the one thing you see even before you see the driver, the bumper sticker. Personal? check! Won’t be mistaken for anyone else generally? check! It will hit the nerves? check! Creative? an emphatic YES! So, how can you adopt this novelty in your life. Let me list down a few examples.
“What will Anusha and Ashwath think of your driving man?”
“Ashwath appa, en drive madthira?”
This is the easiest given how many people actually stick their kids’ names in the back of the car. This works especially well if either Anusha or Ashwath is in the car! This can be borderline creepy but if you are working in a startup and you’ve been pushing personalized notifications to your users, you’ve already way past creepy!
Personalization – HIGH | Impact – HIGH | Chances of backfire – By the time, they think of how do they know you and how do they know their child’s name, you better be long gone.
“You’re not my type”
I’ve seen more of this one on bikes than in cars but the emotion still holds good. The swear here is very subtle but can be interpreted in multiple ways, especially when there’s a fellow passenger in the car. This could be worth it just for the look of the driver.
Personalization – HIGH | Impact – Questionable but fun | Chances of backfire – Depends on how committed the driver is to chase behind you.
“Can’t even drive a car properly, transformer it seems.”
“It transformed you into a bad driver is it?”
This is one of my personal favourites because it gives you a wide scope for creativity. I mean, what do they mean by this? Is this a reason for bad driving? Am I supposed to take this literally and assume it is an electric vehicle or something? I would have more questions to them about the interpretation than get angry at them.
Personalization – HIGH | Impact – It will sting | Chances of backfire – One doesn’t simply forget that they have this stuck to their back, so less chance for misinterpretation, might score you some points on creativity depends on the driver.
The delivery becomes extremely important here. It could be misinterpreted if delivered poorly but these ones shouldn’t be cutting anyone on the road and the sign doesn’t give them a license to rage. In quite a few cases, this sticker doesn’t really get removed and the person is driving without a baby on board. They should be questioned for misleading information as well.
Personalization – HIGH | Impact – HIGH | Chances of backfire – Lesser than most of the others.
This is basically a banner ad in real life. I don’t know if TeamBHP website opens up on your dashboard if you bump into this car in the right angle. I think that’s the reason why most of these stickers are hiding a dent underneath it. Someone has definitely clicked that corner of the car.
Personalization – MODERATE given how many have this sticker on in Bangalore | Impact – Minimum – You can’t break a glass twice | Chances of backfiring – High – They might blame you for the browser history of clicks as well.
If you are even thinking of getting into a rage with this person, I feel bad for you. They are someone who shouldn’t be messed with. This is a car which you practice safe distance from even before the time of Corona.
So, here you go! Let’s make driving fun! Maybe by the time you think of something creative, you forget the reason for rage and possibly even realize it is trivial and move on! Let’s get on with the times!