Trends, Messages and Self-expression: What Are Your Laptop Stickers Saying About You?

By Hannah R., Concordia Applied Journalism

Is there a method to the madness, or are laptop stickers just random? (image: Hannah R.,  Concordia Applied Journalism )

Is there a method to the madness, or are laptop stickers just random? (image: Hannah R., Concordia Applied Journalism)

There are 7.5 billion people walking the planet yet, within this staggering number, our society teaches us that we are individuals with differences and personalities, and we should be proud of these differences.


We are not a number, we say. We are unique, we say. For evidence of the range of distinctiveness out there, one need not look farther than just a few centimetres in front of our own noses. What’s on your laptop cover?


It’s clear that students at Concordia International school of Shanghai have found alternative ways to express their personality on the surface - literally. Peering in the classroom windows, one might find that the stickers on student computers are particularly intriguing as they share more about the individual than we might initially perceive.


The creative art and logos that festoon our laptops show that students at Concordia aren’t afraid to give expression to their differences in a visible way. Stickers have given us insight into individuals. Is it possible that one can make a pre-conversational connection with people simply through printed plastics, papers, and vinyl?


Elisabeth T., a senior at Concordia International School Shanghai, has a variety of stickers on her computer ranging in size and color. They show her interests in Japanese art and fads. “I like putting stickers on my computer because I think they’re very cute,” says Elisabeth. “I have found enjoyment when looking at them while I sit in class.”


For Elisabeth, stickers act as a reminder for her that life has small joys. They are an advocate for happiness when there are rough days and they serve as a beacon pointing toward that which makes her happy, or that which she finds beautiful  - a reminder of “better times”.


What makes Elisabeth’s sticker story even more interesting is the history behind them. “All my stickers are my favorite,” she states. “I cannot pick a favorite, but I am most proud of the ones that have a different backstory. Many of my stickers I made myself or my friends have made.”. 


Elisabeth has been able to showcase her artistic abilities through her stickers on her computer, therefore, showcasing her talents and dedication to the art. After understanding the background history of her stickers, one can appreciate the total story that is described on her computer and perhaps appreciate the personality that lay behind it all.


Identification of  one’s own  computer in a sea of Apple products is just one of the many reasons people apply decals to their machines. ((image: Hannah R.,  Concordia Applied Journalism )

Identification of one’s own computer in a sea of Apple products is just one of the many reasons people apply decals to their machines. ((image: Hannah R., Concordia Applied Journalism)

Not all sticker applications are without practicality. Melissa T., a senior at Concordia, says “the biggest reason why I choose to put stickers on my computer is I want to be able to determine which computer is mine.” She adds, “before I moved to Concordia, I didn’t have any stickers because I wasn’t concerned with grabbing someone else’s computer instead of mine. So, I guess I put stickers on my computer because I want to show my individuality and I can remind myself which computer is mine.” Melissa shares her confident personality through the variety of stickers on her computer. She has some from Colorguard, plus memes that she enjoys, and art from Japan. Her stickers share a first impression of her unique personality.


Sticker density is another dimension to the world of computer aesthetics. Felipe P., totes around a computer that is completely filled with stickers. There are even multiple layers to the labels. Filipe has tied in memories to some of the stickers - memories are the buildup of individuals experiences. “I started sticking stickers to my computer after my sister stuck a Rocky Balboa sticker on my it when I wasn’t looking,” he recalls. “After that, I felt that my computer looked odd, so I decided to put random stickers on my computer. Many of the stickers I adopted from my friends.”


Felipe considers the future, too. “I think when this computer dies I will take off the screen from the keyboard and keep the back of my computer with all my stickers on it, he says. “When I am older I will be able to look at the back of my screens with the different stickers then I will be able to see how my interests have evolved from my stickers’ stories.” Tracking the growth and change of interests is an exciting dimension to this craze – something that serves as a tangible souvenir of past days.


Aiyan, a sophomore at Concordia, shares, “I put stickers that have things I miss from home, art that makes me happy, and my interests.”


She also expresses a higher philosophy in her computer stickers. “I don’t like the blankness of other computers,” says Aiyan. “I feel pride and happiness when I pull my computer out and I can see the stickers that I believe represent me on a basic level.”


The diversity of styles and motivations behind computer stickers is hard to deny. While not everyone wishes to embrace the laptop decorating trend, those who do are publicly participating in an ever-changing gallery that expresses our differences. One might find oneself a new friend, experience a new insight into happiness, or discover a hidden story about someone through the seemingly simple application of plastic, paper, and vinyl on the computers of others around the Concordia community.


Hannah R. is a writer who lets her curiosity take her on journalistic journeys involving sport, storytelling and social trends.