The college phenomenon that disappears shortly after
Sticker Culture is a relatively recent trend that has emerged among the younger generation, particularly college students, and it is the tendency of covering nearly everything with stickers. Whether it is a water bottle, a laptop or even a car, it seems like most surfaces of the average college student are decorated with some sort of image or inspiring quote that sets it apart and indicates ownership. In an environment where almost everyone has a Hydroflask and an Apple laptop, stickers are an easy way to individualize and personalize items.
There are a very wide range of stickers available and you can see them represented throughout campus. The range of stickers seems to match the range of intention for them. Some seem to serve as inspirations and reminders with famous quotes or bible verses, while others serve as more of a form of individuality and as a way to stand apart from the crowd. They can even represent ways of life, such as stickers that show off belief systems or hobbies. And finally there are those that seem to serve the purpose of bringing a feeling of nostalgia for owners as well as those around them, such as quotes from Parks And Rec or pictures of favorite characters from The Office.
No matter the intention, stickers have become part of campus culture and a way for students to relate to one another and to staff. Companies and organizations have begun to offer stickers freely in the hopes of expanding their brand marketing. Even Student Life has been offering stickers for their events in the hopes of enticing more students to them.
But why is this? What makes stickers so special? I believe that it has to do with individuality and connection. Stickers are an easy way for students to declare what they stand for, what matters to them, and who they are. They serve as a way to connect with people who have shared experiences and to open up conversations with people that don’t.
Sticker culture seems to be another step in the direction of the overwhelming desire of this generation: to connect and to matter. Just being students indicates that most of us want to make a difference in the world and leave our mark, but even beyond that, we have a desire to be connected to each other in meaningful ways. We have a desire for community.
And that is what stickers represent: community. They let other people know what communities you are a part of, but they also open doors to those that aren’t a part of those communities. A question about a sticker could be an opening for a person to be pulled into a community, which is an underlying desire of all humans. Humans by nature want to be connected with other humans in meaningful ways, and stickers are one of the ways that we have found out how to do that.