Whatever Sticks: Peeling Apart the Meaning of Laptop Stickers – The Emory Wheel

Many laptops of Emory students display favorite brands, travel destinations and colors.

Emory University students, whether they’re typing away in their dorms or the library, share one commonality: laptops. Laptops are a medium for doing homework, watching Netflix and saving selfies, not to mention an avenue of self-expression through laptop stickers. Often, students paste laptop stickers, otherwise called “decals,” to display their interests, passions and organizations to which they belong or endorse.

Sorority or fraternity decals indicate membership in a Greek organization; students may display stickers representing their home state; wanderlusters may collage stickers from globetrotting destinations; outdoorsy types are likely to pageant their latest adventure or reveal favorite rock climbing or fitness centers. The list goes on.

College senior Isabella O’Neill adorned her laptop with several decorative pieces, such as “got coffee,” “ciao Bella,”  Kappa Kappa Gamma stickers and some of her favorite quotes.

“My blank laptop felt empty and boring, and the stickers made me happy by adding personality, although the stickers only give a surface level insight to my personality. The stickers just show who [I am] on the surface, rather than reveal everything about who [I am],” O’Neill said.

College senior Sam Meinert’s laptop is barely visible underneath the 16 laptop stickers it sports. Each sticker reveals special memories and experiences of her college career.

“I did not have any stickers on my laptop in high school, so when I am in college I want to show that I’m involved in Gamma Phi, the Emory Integrity Project and how I am a psychology major [who] wants to go into nursing,” Meinert said.

For others, college marks a transient point in life, when students’ tastes evolve with new encounters. The opinions that students have expressed with zeal as freshmen may not be relevant three years later, and with the peel of a sticker, students can strip themselves of a particular label and begin anew.

Additionally, stickers may serve as potential conversation starters between strangers who share mutual interests or have stories beyond the stickers.

College junior Robert Cash exhibits two identical Facebook thumbs up stickers on his laptop; one sticker is upright, the other downright. When asked, Cash divulges the story behind his strategically placed stickers. When his laptop fell off the bed and became dented, Cash placed one Facebook sticker over it as a quick fix and later, in order to balance the symmetry, added the second sticker. Cash is a huge Facebook advocate and received the stickers from Facebook’s headquarters. He aspires to work with an information technology branch in the future and regards his Facebook endorsement a proud parade of his investment within the tech field.

However, some say laptop stickers are frowned upon in the business world, as they create a cluttered appearance. Until recently, Goizueta Business School junior Gaurav Thakur had a blank laptop. Now, a She’s the First (STF) Emory decal is proudly pasted on the left corner of his laptop.

“My laptop sticker speaks to a cause that I care about: STF Emory raises money for girls to receive education,” Thakur said. “Although it may be important to showcase what’s important to you while you’re in school, I know that when I start interning or enter the business field that I am definitely going to get rid of them because [the stickers] are not as professional.”

A laptop owner can illustrate their identity and selectively display personal details, revealing bits about themselves through laptop stickers. In accordance to the laptop owner’s desires, the purpose of laptop stickers could easily range from expressing a perfunctory opinion to taking a strong stance on an important issue.


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