Everything these days has been shortened to an acronym, so it really shouldn’t have come as any surprise to us when one of the comments from our review panel for the state of Delaware about this year’s CAMPsafe program questioned our use of SOB!
We figured in our pop-style, Roy Lichtenstein-like campaign, designed to over-dramatize what is more and more blasé, that a distressed character with SOB! would be clear. But the reviewer thought that we were trying to slide a different slang usage into our campaign. It made me think about how our communication shorthand can truncate our meaning everyday.
Occasionally, someone inserts a series of letters into a communication (eg. LMAO), and I either ignore it completely or I am forced to google the meaning to find out what the heck they are saying to me. Have we become so compressed that we are only communicating in code? Will we all be reduced from four letters to just Y?
WTF? Have our messages about safe sex become so routine that nobody is seeing anything at all? That is what I worry about the most.
Conversations with teenagers (boys and girls) where they roll their eyes when we talk about condoms really reminds me that nobody, but nobody can convince them that one time can spell disaster, whether unintended pregnancy or unintended STDs or unintended HIV. You only need to slip up once.
Aside from saying it so directly, we are always looking for a way to integrate the message into something eye-catching and fun. Sexy when we can. Clever if we’re up to it. Serious about the message points. With the help of local artist Matty Adler (who will have an exhibition of his pop-style work at CAMP Rehoboth over the next few weeks), we conceived of our current campaign “No Drama!”
The postcards and ads are created as a fun way to get the messages out. While we repeat the message points every year: use condoms and lube every time you have sex, we also incorporate messages that are known to assist in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases: limit/get to know your partners; know your status; your judgment may be impaired from alcohol and/or drugs; protect yourself from all STDs; sometimes abstinence is the best policy; and being positive doesn’t protect you from re-infection.
Maybe if we take the message tagline seriously, it really is telling us not to be so serious, not to make a big deal over it, slip on a condom, go at it, and have fun. Without any drama. As part of our routine day. There’s a concept.
My grandmother (not the stylish one, but the one with granny glasses and brocade suits) used to tell me, “If You Can’t Be Good, Be Careful.” I thought that was pretty hip, and my nieces and nephews have gotten used to my signing text messages IYCBGBC. Occasionally they ask, what’s that mean again?
The CAMPsafe message is really a very basic one: IYCBGBC. Hmm, maybe that’s next year’s campaign. LOL.
SNA (Sondra N. Arkin) is an artist in Washington, DC.