Next time you and your friends hit the bars looking to meet guys, here’s a word to the wise: don’t forget to bring plenty of rubbers…I mean, rubber bands. Silly Bandz, the popular collectible kids toys that have become the Beanie Babies of today (except you get a lot more bang for your buck), are now becoming popular with adults as ways to flirt or conversation starters. So how did Silly Bandz turn into something for adults, and what does the Silly Bandz flirting fad say about the grownups of today?
First of all, it’s amazing that Silly Bandz have become the sensation that they have. The colorful bands of rubber that are worn as bracelets and come in hundreds of different shapes have been flying off of store shelves, which is amazing when you consider all the high-tech toys for kids to choose from today. Like my generation’s Beanie Babies and pogs, the Silly Bandz are collectible and tradable, making them seem like more to kids than just thin slivers of rubber that form simple shapes. And since they are a toy of such a simple, inexpensive design, this means that kids can accrue a large amount of Silly Bandz, perhaps even enough that they might be willing to share with mom. So is this where the Silly Bandz trend at bars emerged?
According to NYDailyNews.com, some men have been mystified by the new trend of Silly Bandz being given out at bars, as flirtatious females are more likely to give them a band shaped like a number than their actual phone number (now there’s a fun dating game to play: give a guy Silly Bandz that form your phone number, but make him figure out the right order). In the article, they are described as great conversation starters and having the ability to make someone feel important when given one. Women see it as an innocent way to flirt, although it might seem strange to hear a friend tell you she gave a guy a pink elephant at the bar last night.
So why are kids’ toys becoming popular with adults? Well, we seem to be growing up slower these days, so giving in to the collection craze could simply be a way of holding onto our childhood just a bit longer (seriously, adults in their 30’s are playing with Silly Bandz at bars). But perhaps the allure of the simplistic Silly Bandz actually lies in a connection with our new social network. More and more adults are turning to Facebook to see what their friends are up to rather than going out to meet them face to face, and giving someone a fun rubber bracelet could be a bit like the real-world version of a “like” or “share”. Just like Facebook, sharing Silly Bandz creates a controlled way to interact without getting too up close and personal. It really makes sense if you think about it; with everyone spending all their time at bars texting and checking their Facebook pages nowadays, a bright little bauble is one way to get the attention of someone you’re interested in.
They also create an interesting problem for singles that might overthink the meaning of the colored rubber bands: would giving a guy a dollar sign make you look like you’re only after one thing? Would a blue bunny make you look “loose”? Would he take a pink heart as an indication that you’re the kind of girl who moves into lovey-dovey mode much too fast? And could an orange gorilla give a guy the idea that your kind of man is the same type of meathead the girls on ‘Jersey Shore’ go for? The messages behind the different shapes of Silly Bandz could get really confusing, and I can see them also turning into cheeky ways to insult one another as well as tiny trophies.
And since they are becoming so popular with adults, I can only imagine how torn parents will be when it comes to how they feel about their new toys when, inevitably, naughty, adult-themed versions of the bands hit store shelves (think the Playboy bunny; the buxom mudflap girl; and a few other very vulgar shapes). I can feel the reluctant outrage already.
So is Match.com a thing of the past? Will any adult Silly Bandz fans find love that lasts? It would be one hell of a “how we met” story to tell the family, and I’m getting a bad feeling that someone out there is getting a very bad idea for a new romantic comedy…