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‘Stick’ to the status quo

Well, it finally happened. After two years of refusing to put a single Miami, pop culture or quote sticker on my laptop, I’ve finally given in and covered the entire back with them.

I’ve had the same laptop cover since before my freshman year — pink, with marble accents and black-and-white stripes. I had a matching cover for the empty part near the track pad, but when my computer broke in spring of 2020 and I had to send it off to be fixed, that mysteriously vanished. Because I had this, which was basically a giant laptop sticker in and of itself, I never felt the need to put stickers on my laptop.

My quiet rebellion wasn’t for lack of trying on Miami’s part. Every club, organization or event I’ve participated in or even just passed by in the last two years has seemed to be handing out stickers. And all of my friends have ordered their own off of Redbubble or similar websites — everything from Bo Burnham to Bojack Horseman, Black Lives Matter to bubble letters of “Miami University.”

Everyone’s laptops, water bottles and other personal paraphernalia are covered in stickers no matter where I turn.

Sticker culture at Miami University is bigger than football.

So when my beloved pink cover finally ripped at the beginning of this year, at right about the same time as I got a couple of TMS stickers from the newsroom, I took it as a sign to give in to the sticker culture and finally order some of my own.

When I make a style change to my life, I go all in. So I dropped $40 on Redbubble after a vigorous two-day search process to find the best stickers possible — finally settling on stickers for Dead Poets Society, Hercules, Tampa Bay Lightning and The 1975, among many others.

Then, when they arrived in the mail a week and a half later, I spent two hours perfectly arranging them on my laptop — and water bottle, because I ordered way too many. 

My stickers have quickly become my new favorite topic of conversation — or, sometimes, argument, in the case of my “Marching Band is a Sport” sticker. No matter who I’m talking to or with, I can always relate at least one of my stickers to the conversation.

And, finally, I feel like I blend into any Miami class, where twenty other students will have the same sticker-covered computers showcasing all of their unique likes, interests and passions.

Each of my stickers has a story behind them, and each is distinctive to me. So why do I feel like I’ve conformed, somehow?

Why does Miami culture take something that should be used for showing off our own unique personalities and turn it into a status quo?

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Sticker culture is, by no means, something that’s forced on students. After all, I survived two full years with not a single sticker on my laptop before finally giving in. 

But right now, as I’m sitting in the newsroom and writing this article, I am surrounded by seven other TMS editors. Seven other personal laptops. And not one of them is stickerless.

It’s almost like our parents putting bumper stickers on their cars, or even like tattoos. Showcasing small things we like through images on our devices, transportation or bodies is not a new concept, but it seems to be bursting at Miami.

(Should I put an “If You’re Reading This, You’re Too Close” sticker on my laptop?)

This is especially true after the pandemic. For so long, we didn’t get to show ourselves off. Now that we have that opportunity, the status quo is bursting with self-flaunting and it’s becoming even more “normal” to cover our possessions with pieces of personality.

It’s not that I wish that this wasn’t normal — I love that embracing our uniqueness is such a welcome part of Miami’s campus culture (or, at least, it’s getting there… but that’s an article for another time). I do, however, wish that my first thought wouldn’t have been “Hey, I’m fitting in.”

I shouldn’t ever enjoy conforming to any standard. I am myself, as we are all ourselves; we should celebrate that.

This is not a call to arms to get rid of stickers, nor is this a call-out of Miami in any way. With that being said, this is just a reminder … to remember who we are as individuals outside of a community, and to embrace and appreciate the uniqueness and diversity that our decorations bring.

It’s not a bad thing to, in the immortal words of High School Musical, “stick to the status quo.” As long as we also stick to enjoying what makes us all different people.

radwanat@miamioh.edu

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