On The Flip Side
by Michael Munger
Mac vs. PC: What War?
January 10th, 2001
A female friend of mine called me the other day. If you think about it for a second, this is normally not a big event. It could happen on any day, and even when two friends decide to get together and have some fun (it is not what you are thinking), there are seldom any consequences. Except when such a call makes you realize how wrong people can be at times.
My friend told me at one point during the conversation that she needed "ammo" to fight back when PC bigots attacked her choice of computer platform and when they would tell her the famous "Macs suck" line.
I admit that I have traditionally liked to attack sometimes with more or less scruples - computer users who decided to adopt the PC platform instead of the Mac world. After all, Macs are friendlier, under less Microsoft control, sport a better overall interface, and they are less troublesome to anyone who wants to add peripherals or hardware under the hood.
On the other hand, I started to realize that the perpetual war between Mac believers and PC advocates is... just useless.
Why do people tell each other that their respective computer choices stink? Why do people try to convince their colleagues and friends that they chose the right option, and that anything else is wrong? Why do people even bother to engage in such battles when we know that the only result is that nothing will come out of it?
The odds are better that we will see politicians reaching consensuses in Washington with George W. Bush reaching across the aisle to embrace his Democratic colleagues than for a PC user to convert Mac users to Windows and vice versa. People who attempt to move peoples opinions like this are bound to fail 99% of the time.
As I said before in these pages, people stick to their guns in the face of adversity, and there is nothing worse than ideological confrontation to get others to hang on to their beliefs tightly. Trust me on that. I have had a countless number of exchanges about computers, politics and other topics where some form of ideology shapes or controls people's thoughts, and the best arguments from all sides rarely, if ever, produce any switching of sides.
I know this from personal experience. When others have displayed aggressive or confrontational attitudes when attacking my beliefs, I have become even more obstinate in the face of that challenge. Why do people counterattack and hold fast to their positions instead of changing their minds? It could have something to do with pride, ego, or the simple conviction that they are not wrong.
This brings me back to the central focus behind what I am trying to expose. Is anybody wrong? What if, in the best of all worlds, there was no final version of the truth? What if both Macs and PCs were fine enough and what if people could decide for themselves? Should we ask ourselves if, after all, a computer platform is nothing more than a consumer choice?
In many situations, people make different decisions that lead to the results they wanted. In drugstores, John Doe buys Aquafresh toothpaste and it works for him. Jane Public will choose Colgate, and it will work for her. John Doe will then continue shopping and go to the electronics store. He will buy a Sony Trinitron TV. Jane Public will do the same, but opt for a similar flat TV, but from Mitsubishi. In both cases, their choices will work for them.
John and Jane could argue over each of their choices for hours and discuss the benefits, differences and flaws of each other's options. The probability that John could convince Jane to buy from Sony instead of Mitsubishi is not high. If John believes that Aquafresh is the best toothpaste, Jane's chances to change his mind are not very good either.
When it boils down to choices we make when buying products, it is hopeless to fight verbally in order to be right and prevail over the other. When people decide to stick with a brand or to make such a consuming choice, it is amazing how stubborn they are.
On December 27, 2000, I said the following about Macs and PCs:
What about the equality of the platforms? The Mac is simpler to use and more friendly, but what about Windows and PCs? Fine, Macs are a little better, but you know what? You can use a PC and get things done. It has a graphical user interface too, and the other things you need to get work done. It stunned me that we (at my new job) use only PCs to publish a top-notch newspaper and its Web site. We do, and it works. I would like to say otherwise as I prefer the Mac, but it is reality. I am afraid that it is the case in many workplaces.
Many people use Windows PCs and they get their work done despite the imperfections. They do not see the need to shell out more money in order to get what should be a superior machine. Whether it is right or wrong is out of the question. It is reality.
I am afraid that this still applies today. Just as for other choices we face when buying at stores, many of the options could be fine and the characteristics that repel someone could attract the other person. Whether you have a Mac or a PC, you have a functional computer with an operating system that works in its own way with mainstream software needed to accomplish anything that a personal computer can achieve.
If you tell me that there are differences and that the Mac has more attractive characteristics, I will tell you that I agree, but deep, deep, down, we should acknowledge that what applies to us may not apply to other people's platform choices. Mostly, going on a crusade to change things around is not the right thing. It is Apple's business to take care of that.
Your comments are welcomed.
Michael Munger is a French Canadian living in Montreal. He discovered the Mac in 1994 while studying journalism, the profession he loves and practices. He also studied history and communications. In addition to his work at The Mac Observer, he authors the iBasics tutorial column at Low End Mac, and cofounded MacSoldiers in 1998.
You can find more about him at his personal Web site.
You are welcome to send me your comments or you can post them below.
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