Wandering eyes in the library are probably looking for their next Trinder post, but something else they may alight on is one of the many sticker-adorned laptops gracing Trinity’s desks. Whether it be sporting clubs, societies, bands, or political movements, there is a sticker for every interest a student may have. But what does a little piece of sticky paper really say about someone? Is it a status symbol? Or an identity crisis?
College is stereotyped as a place to “find yourself” and to find people who share your interests and outlook on life, and perhaps stickers have a part to play in that – they are silent, effortless signifiers of someone’s political leanings, society affiliations or music taste. It also makes sense to adhere your personality to your laptop, given that it is an item that you use every day – a way to be seen without really trying. The outward-facing nature of a laptop case is also ideal. You don’t need to see your Patagonia stickers, as you already know how much you love the environment. But the attractive person opposite you on Ussher three may not.
The sticker phenomenon has been around for decades. The 1940s saw the advent of bumper stickers, which were used for people’s cars to broadcast political messages or serve as souvenirs from holidays. Over the following decades, this progressed to novelty stickers, merchandise stickers and even “scratch-n-sniff” stickers that had a scent. Nowadays, stickers are still being made by commercial brands as a means of marketing, or by political groups to get their message across.
Political stickers from the likes of the repeal campaign, to pro-Palestine groups, and a special shout-out must be given to the red, rectangular “please touch” sticker that is on laptops and lampposts alike. It comes from the recently finished Intimacy exhibition in the Science Gallery, but does the sticker really signify an invitation for intimacy? I think not.
From the sheer number of laptops sporting this particular sticker, it is somewhat comforting to see that I am not the only one to have succumbed to the odd compulsion to slap that big red rectangle on my personal belongings. I do not, in fact, want anyone to touch my laptop, yet here I find myself with a courteous invitation to do just that. An attempt to peel the offending sticker off, however, proved unsuccessful. I would rather it remain intact on my laptop than leave behind a mess of partially ripped white paper.
And there lies the commitment issues that I’m sure we all encounter with our laptop stickers. Stickers are permanent symbols for often non-permanent interests. If you change your mind about your love for DU Dance, that black circle is not coming off without a fight. And that risque sticker that seemed like a good idea to get some chuckles in the library might not bode so well in a law firm internship.