Wristbands create color-coded confusion

By Kevin Wilson

I was at a Social Security information seminar today, courtesy of the American Association of Retired Persons. I figured I’d come out with some information about the AARP’s stance, but I also came out with a fashion statement.
On my wrist as I type this is a red wristband that says, “I Love Social Security.” And I think, why wouldn’t I love the concept of receiving money after I retire?
Regardless of my beliefs, I may have to take it off before too long, just to eliminate confusion. It seems that everybody has a wristband for everything these days, and it’s not just national campaigns.
The idea started innocently, as most overblown things do. Yellow bands bearing the phrase “Live Strong” were sold to raise money to help those living with cancer. Another popular item is the white wristband, in support of ending poverty.
To bolster my argument, I Googled the term “wristband campaign” and found nearly 40 different statements you can make with your wrist.
As much as I love Social Security, my red wristband may confuse people into thinking that I’m:
• Raising awareness for Marfan Syndrome, which affects connective tissue,
• Changing laws to support malpractice reform in Arizona,
• Supporting military families,
• Trying to raise tobacco-free kids,
• Helping the Saturn car company donate money to bone marrow research,
• Being aware of AIDS,
• Taking a stand against ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease,
• Remembering a soccer stadium tragedy in 1989, or
• Supporting a 24-hour hotline for European children called ChildLine.
Those are the nine that I could confirm just for the color red. Blue, meanwhile, could mean child abuse prevention, bullying prevention, a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, United Way support, tsunami victim support, gambling prevention, foster care support or even a vote of confidence to new hospitals in Montreal or Ann Arbor, Mich.
This area isn’t immune to the bracelet craze. Eastern New Mexico University’s athletics department is selling wristbands, available in either green or silver. As the friendly staff at ENMU told me, it’s in conjunction with a truck raffle ($20 per wristband/ticket combination) to raise money for university grant and aid.
I encourage you to support their cause, but warn you to be aware. People unfamiliar with ENMU green may think you are supporting U.S. troops overseas or trying to raise money to save Darfur, Iraq. Maybe they’ll think you are in support of changing malpractice laws in Illinois — malpractice is a multi-colored enemy, it seems.
If you want to raise awareness for lupus or Asperger’s Syndrome, wear orange and hope you don’t get mistaken as a supporter of liberalism.
You can even go without a color — clear bands are for people fighting blindness.
I haven’t even discussed half of what I’ve found — black bands to end the National Hockey League labor dispute, black and white to end racism, purple to fight asthma, or other cancer-awareness bands (gray for brain cancer, pink for breast cancer).
So many causes, so little wrist room. I think I’ll just buy a watch instead.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail: