Five 'Dirty Words That Should Be Banned From Mac Users' Vocabulary

Updated 9/14/01 11:40 a.m. CST

You start telling the truth to people, and people gonna look at you like you was askini to @#&* their momma or somethini. The truth is gonna be funny, but itis gonna scare the @#&* outta folks.

Richard Pryor

Comedian George Carlin isnit known for his congeniality.

Rather, he is known for an acerbic wit and a comedy routine that borders on comedic genius and revels in profanity and blasphemy. Over the years, I have developed an interest in potty-mouthed comedians. After stripping away the ostensibly offensive language and naughtier subject matters expressed therein, I have discovered that many of these "funny people" often possess supreme insight into human nature, social dynamic and facade-laden humanity.

One of George Carlinis most infamous routines is a piece he calls "Seven Dirty Words." There are seven "dirty words" considered the most vile, most inciteful (not insightful) and most incendiary. If youive ever heard of George Carlin, I donit think I need to explain any further. (Note -- Mac Observer pointed out something further: "Actually these words were selected by the FCC as the seven iyouid better not say on the air.i Carlin was a DJ before he became a comedian.")

What I do need to explain is that Iive been bandying about my own list of "dirty words," as they relate to the Mac world. Iive come up with a list of words that we should delete from the Mac lexicon. Each word, to me, is pejorative, offensive, so patently counterproductive that their use and overuse could comprise the greatest stumbling blocks to making the Mac an even more viable computing option.

But theyire just words, you probably reply. Yes, but words are powerful, more so than weapons. Hitler used words to sway a nation to the point of actually attempting to carry out the "final solution." Martin Luther King, Jr., used words to move another nation to give strong consideration to Gandhiis "satyagraha," Americanized to become known as "non-violent resistance." Thought precedes action, and many times our extreme fanaticism for things Macintosh -- the cult-like actions and collective mentality that embarrasses, disparages and otherwise detriments the Macintosh -- stems from the "mere words" that we use with good intentions as a medium of solidarity, but which ultimately repels potential users who would otherwise be a perfect fit for this thing we call Macintosh.

Now, Iive come up with only five "dirty Mac words." They are five of the most hackneyed, overused words that need to be jettisoned from our language, because they do more harm than good. That said, here are my nominations for Mac buzzwords and buzz phrases that we need to strike from our collective consciousness -- with apologies to Dave Letterman:

5. Mac faithful. What does it mean, calling us "Mac faithful?" Faith implies steadfastness, unswerving loyalty "until death do us part." I wonit say that the reality is farther from the truth, but it is often at odds. Today, Apple has to deal with a savvier and more critical customer base. And rightly so. The Windows world offers a closer version of computing parity than it ever did in 1984. The pressure to switch is stronger than ever (dirty little secret: Iim typing this on my work computer, an IBM ThinkPad T21 running Windows NT, and I donit even have to hold my nose anymore -- but who can blame me? My crappy PowerBook Wallstreet died this summer).

4. Insanely great. God, this is so? so 1984. In order for me to use this phrase again, Apple would have to create something so revolutionary, so paradigm-shifting, that the original Mac would be the ultimate in ho-hum by comparison.

3. Microsloth, micropoly, etc. Letis face it, the Department of Justice blinked. Microsoft has won the final battle to prevent its world domination. Time to accept it. You and I can not escape using Microsoft products, even on the Mac. Besides, Microsoft has had enough years to make Windows, Internet Explorer and Office damned near palatable and tolerable.

2. PeeCee, etc. Itis childish and meaningless. After all, even the Mac is a PC -- arguably, the original PC

1. And the number one word and phrase that needs to be erased from the Mac useris lexicon: evangelism and evangelist. These are the biggest culprits and are most representative of what needs to be jettisoned from the Mac community (maybe even "Mac community" needs to be deleted). These two words represent a mentality that is taken to extremes by many Mac users. It may even represent much of what is wrongheaded with Mac users.

The personal computer has been slowly and methodically becoming a commodity, if it isnit one already. What I mean by commodity is that it is becoming so commonplace that it may no longer mean much to buy a Macintosh over, say, a Compaq. The day of the personal computeris transformation from haute couture to the pedestrian may be upon us soon. For example, do you really give much thought to which television that you will buy? To me, there isnit really a Packard Bell of televisions and refrigerators (sure, the opposite can be argued for VCRs, stereos and the like).

Apple is probably leaning towards this same conclusion Iive made. One of the first acts made by the New Apple was to move away from the type of Mac marketing exemplified by the likes of Guy Kawasaki, Mr. Mac Evangelism himself. What this move meant was that Apple realizes that it has to reposition itself as a centerpiece of what has been dubbed the "digital lifestyle." This lifestyle wonit be populated by brand partisanship. Instead, it will be made up of brands that are synonymous with the lifestyle. For example, Xerox has become a verb; ditto for facsimile, or, rather, "fax." If you want to know Appleis ulterior motive for the next 25 years, this is it.

But, as I said earlier, words are powerful. Ask any advertiser (for example: "How do you spell relief?" "Youire in good hands" with whom? "Whereis the beef?"). Apple began its ulterior motives with the "Think Different" business, along with the paradigm shift in what a Mac is and what is the Mac OS (maybe the word "Macintosh" needs to be deleted too, replaced with just an Apple logo).

In short, we Mac users are behind the curve if we are still subscribing to the aforementioned "five dirty words" and the ideas associated therein. Those of us still using those words in the future will be anachronisms that have no place in the computer of the future -- if thatis what it will be called. Change your language now. Change it today. Or you will be left behind in what may be deemed the Great Lexicon Shift of the Mac universe.

You have been warned.


For further reading and discussion:
Roger Born has written an excellent lesson in history about the future of the computer vis--vis the automobile, that is a nice complement to what I tried to argue. It can be found at

Rodney O. Lain is a prophet. He stands in a long flowing robe, a parchment in one hand, the other pointing heavenward. "Repent!" he shouts to anyone who will listen. "Repent and believe the gospel! Abandon all hope, ye who? Excuse me? Oh, sorry." Anyway, he writes a regular column for The Mac Observer titled "iBrotha" and also writes the occasional editorial like the one you are reading. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and has sold out to The Man (he works in Corporate America) .