Alongside thinking about how we are advertised to, as consumers, it might be valuable to also look at how we advertise outward. Currently, laptops are the current source of how people consume much of the advertisements they see; ads before a video, or that interrupt the middle of one, ads generated on the sides of webpages based on the viewers search history, ads or sponsored pages on google searches. No one can open the internet and get very far without encountering an advertisement. Simultaneously, though, that same person has opened her laptop to be advertised to, and is advertising herself and her interests to those around by way of laptop stickers.
The amount of information we share through stickers is intriguing; I am currently sitting in Starbucks, and looking around I do not see a single laptop without at least one sticker on it. For lots of the computers I am looking at, I can determine what university someone attends (mostly Vanderbilt), what sorority they are in, what causes they believe in, and maybe where they are from. My own laptop, as I think about it, tells more about me than it probably should. I have three Michigan/Detroit related stickers on my computer, so it is not difficult to figure out where I’m from. I clearly go to Vanderbilt, am in the Concert Choir, and, if someone felt like doing a bit of digging, the causes I champion on my laptop tell them a good bit about me.
Why do we do this? We say to strangers, “Look! Here are the things I care about!” We can’t see these stickers while we use our laptops; they’re designed to tell other people about us. People we will in all likelihood never meet again. They are, perhaps, ways to make connections. If someone is in Seattle, and has a Vanderbilt sticker on her computer, perhaps another Vanderbilt grad might walk up to them and say, “You went to Vanderbilt, too?” We are, perhaps, saying, not “Here are the things I care about,” but rather, “Here I am, please notice me.”