How laptop stickers became the new campaign button

Our parents declared their views on clothes and backpacks, but we display ours on our precious devices

It’s trendy and effective to express yourself through stickers.
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When arriving on Queen’s campus as a first-year, there are a few things you might notice: there’s always a line at Tim Horton’s, it’s almost impossible to get a spot at Stauffer during exam season, and everyone’s laptops are covered in stickers.

Some people keep it classy with just a few well-spaced out statements, while others show off crowded layers that overlap at every corner. From those who’ve popped a free sticker or two on their device on a whim to those who scoured Redbubble for the perfect purchase, the sticker trend is both loud and inescapable. 

It’s easy to make a comparison to the campaign buttons of the 20th century, with a few key differences that have made stickers the perfect platform for a generation relying on viral movements to make a statement.

The laptop sticker may be a relatively new phenomenon, but it has become a powerful one. What started as an aesthetically pleasing trend has become one of the most universal ways students project who they are and what they’re interested in.

Stickers have also been thrown on water bottles, particularly Hydro Flask bottles. The Hydro Flask sticker trend was a key part of the ‘VSCO girl’ identity, popular in the summer of 2019. While VSCO girls were undeniably driven by a beachy, carefree style, they were also part of an environmentalist movement predominantly against single-use plastics. Alongside the stickers featuring pastel scrunchies and cartoon waves were defining slogans urging to ‘save the turtles’ and put ‘planet over profit’.

There’s a lot you can tell from somebody through what they chose to display on their laptop. From favourite childhood TV shows to hometowns, you can find a sticker to represent nearly anything. Some people may opt to have a cohesive style or colour scheme, while others prefer to use the trend as a way to let everyone know who they are. Through decorating your laptop, your major, favourite artists, or clubs can be proudly shown off.

As stickers have grown in popularity, they’ve also become a new ground for showing off your politics. Political and ideological slogans supporting different viewpoints let fellow students know exactly what side of the spectrum you’re on without even a conversation.

Stickers are cheap and easy to make, meaning they’re accessible not only to buy but to mass-produce. Students don’t have to be at the mercy of what stickers are made trendy by larger campaigns or movements—student groups and organizations can easily source hundreds of stickers to hand out at a rally or protest. Stickers are also an easy way for groups to raise money: students are often willing to pay a couple of dollars to support causes they’re passionate about.

In an age where new movements, slogans, and memes can go viral in a few days’ time, it’s important to our generation that our identities can reflect that fast-moving pace. To many young people, our devices are like an extension of ourselves. If we’re forever learning and changing, shouldn’t our laptops be able to reflect that?

From supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to environmentalism and anti-capitalism, there are stickers for it all. Due to their versatility, convenience, and low price-point, it’s likely that similar to campaign buttons, the sticker trend will become a defining marker of our generation.

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