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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

A stick(er)y situation

Looking across the classroom, I see them all abound with my classmates behind them, pattering and pecking away. Without saying a word, I can tell their life stories — or at least, some fairly amusing guesses about dramatized lives of intrigue they may lead. From his sticker, I can tell he is a frequenter of the restaurant chain In-N-Out, and from her Rosie the Riveter scientist, I can tell she is a woman in STEM. As I gaze throughout the room and study the stickers that adorn the surfaces of my classmates' laptops, I find myself acquainting myself with people I have never even spoken to.  

While this may seem like a hobby to pass the time in less than riveting lectures, it is rather that these seemingly insignificant items that we display on our devices have so much to tell about the individual behind the keyboard.        

When it comes to stickers, I am a connoisseur. In my opinion, they belong on laptops, water bottles, bumpers, ski helmets and refrigerators, and they even make the perfect illicit nighttime graffiti, but I did not tell you that. I have been this way since the day my former idol, Lightening McQueen, raced into my four-year-old life with his signature coating of sponsorship stickers.  

I would implore anyone debating or without stickers on their laptops to decorate and cave to the creative opportunity that can come with it. Personally, it has been a meaningful chance at self-expression that has the possibility to brighten up my day and that of those around me.      

The stickers on my laptop have saved me from the vividly painful flashbacks to DomerFest of strangers asking me, “Where are you from?” or “What’s your major?” Instead of putting my brain on autopilot with the Notre Dame introduction, my laptop stickers have been a unique way to connect with new people.

For me, it was one sticker at a time. This situation was a slow descent into madness as I started to collect and plan the layout of the front and eventually the bottom of my laptop. The first sticker can be a slippery slope, and very suddenly I was out of room on my entire device and had to make cuts. I originally planned to avoid the overlapping of even the edges of the stickers, whereas now the surface of my laptop is a multilayered patchwork quilt of assorted stickers.

Some may see a laptop like this, think it is unprofessional for a college student and shudder a corporate shiver. However, why be bland and hold fast to the dystopian gunmetal gray of most laptops?  

Some of my favorite stickers I have seen include a Notre Dame-themed Kris Kardashian, a Hufflepuff house crest and the romanticized city skyline of Cleveland. Some stickers I took note of — of the more meaningful variety — were a British Cider label, a pandemic HERE sticker and a cardinal to represent a deceased grandmother.

While it may be no shock to you, I will admit it: the sight of a stickered laptop is a cause for excitement in my daily life. It is as if these tiny stickers are a visual biography of the laptop’s user waiting for me to read it. When I see a laptop covered with stickers, I am instantly reminded of a minivan littered with bumper stickers obtained from a cross-country voyage. While most laptop stickers may not advertise that you made it to the world’s largest ball of twine or Mount Rushmore, many represent the journey of our daily lives.  

I find the decoration of your laptop so compelling because it is a celebration of the journey of life and the dynamic ways we change along the way. My state of Michigan stickers represent the place that made me, and my travel stickers (from Washington D.C., Albuquerque and Nashville) speak to the experiences that have shaped me. For the observant viewer, my Rudy and Oozma Kappa stickers reveal my love of the underdog and belief in the impossible. Some may deem it cheesy, but I want the tool that I use the most to be a reflection of who I am and the road that has brought me here.   

Laptop stickers also serve as a comforting reminder of who you are and an expression of that to those around you. This personalization of the mundane routine of answering emails, completing homework or even writing articles about laptop stickers is what makes them so special. 

The next time you find yourself looking at laptop stickers, think about what they say about the person behind the keyboard and whether you should get some yourself. Engage in this celebration of the journey of life and cover your laptop in stickers to express who you are.  

Jack Sirianni is a sophomore studying political science, journalism and public policy. He is a proud Michigander who appreciates jamming to Pete Seeger, scouring eBay for vintage Notre Dame paraphernalia and collecting stickers from everywhere he goes. On campus, Jack can often be seen by the Founder’s Monument or in the line for Southwest Salad. For your favorite tidbits of knowledge or any other musings, his inbox is always open at jsirian2@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.