They are everywhere. On laptops, water bottles, notebooks, doors. Some are black and white while others burst with color and logos. It is hard to ignore the collages of stickers that bring our everyday items to life.
Why stickers? Why not just buy a unique laptop case or leave water bottles bare? The answer is simple: expression. The more stickers one has, the more meanings and messages one can put forth. As a proponent of stickers, Patrick Keefe, CSOM ‘21, explains that they allow him to express his identity.
“My Star Wars and Marvel stickers show a big part of my life. Beachcomber is one of my favorite places on earth and I have a sticker for that. Maryland is where I was born and I have a Maryland crab sticker,” Keefe said.
The meaning behind stickers also largely depends on where they originated. Some are collected from different places of travel or from clubs and organizations while others are bought solely from Redbubble. Planning out entire spreads of stickers bought from Redbubble is becoming increasingly popular. Students pick out products of similar colors or themes and then organize the display of the stickers on their laptop covers or water bottles. Purchasing Redbubble stickers in bulk and planning out their placement demonstrates a desire to portray a specific appearance or identity. Most stickers that are collected, however, are from real experiences and often have a story behind them. Regardless, both collected and planned-out, purchased stickers are a fun way to individualize laptops and more.
As Keefe describes, Redbubble stickers and collected stickers both have meaning, but sometimes Redbubble stickers allow for more specific messages and can actually hold more meaning.
When asked if Redbubble or collected stickers are better, Keefe said,“Depends on what you want from a sticker. It’s cool when you get a sticker from a place, but if it’s meaningless to you when you collect it then it’s not worth it to put it up. With Redbubble you can make sure the sticker has the exact meaning you want, unlike collecting.”
Some people, however, prefer to display strictly collected stickers as badges of honor. Collecting stickers from travels and experiences is a surefire way to have a unique sticker collection. That said, everyone’s sticker collection is differentiated in some way. Others choose not to corrupt the sleek image of their laptop with stickers at all, which, in a culture of color and branding, is a form of rebellion in and of itself.
Not only are stickers a form of expression, but they can also act as a conversation starter. Many students at BC have stickers illustrating popular memes or TV show references. There is a camaraderie shared when someone has a laptop sticker that you find amusing or with which you identify. Questions about the significance of certain laptop stickers can make it easy for two strangers to spark up a conversation.
Additionally, a large number of laptop stickers advertise for different clubs and organizations on campus. This form of publicity can not only help organizations spread their message and raise awareness but can even help recruit new members.
Individualization, starting conversations, and spreading awareness and information are just some of the motivations behind why students decorate with stickers. With a simple raise of their laptop screens, students can announce to the world who they are, where they have been, and what they care about. In a community that can oftentimes feel homogenous, this small act of self-identifying can help students feel that they are holding onto a unique identity. With that amount of impact, this trend is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.