The social world of backpacks

Of all the ways to carry your personal belongings – whether they are books, clothes, a collection of Star Wars figures, your laptop, or a myriad of other items – the backpack offers the richest social world of them all. The backpack tells the world who you are and what you’re about in ways the satchel, for example, can only dream of.

Sure, briefcases and handbags come in all manner of shapes (though flat and rectangular is the obvious preference), sizes and styles, but then again, so do backpacks. The important question, however, is how many ways can you carry a briefcase? That’s right, one way, like a boring person.

As anyone who has ever owned a backpack will tell you, how you wear your backpack sends a multitude of social signals to others, especially other backpack-wearers. First off, you can choose to carry your backpack casually by just using one strap, or sensibly by using both. Secondly comes the choice of how tight to make the straps. Tightening the straps so that you carry your backpack high up has, traditionally, indicated that you’re more of an academic/nerdy type. Loosening those straps so that your backpack dangles at about knee-height may mark you out as a disgruntled teenager.

There is, of course, a whole range of nuance in-between these choices and what message you send out to others will depend on the style of your backpack. The important thing is to go out there, have fun, and express yourself (and ditch those briefcases!).

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