Thereis a Wired News article titled Worshipping at the Altar of Mac, in which the author, Leander Kahney, discusses one of the more emotionally charged issues of Mac ownership: dealing with the Mac-As-A-Cult perception many people seem to have. The article gives a voice to many who believe that Mac ownership, in general, implies automatic membership to the Church Of One Infinite Loop, and that being a Mac owner requires you to defend with your very life the concepts and machines that usher forth from the minds and souls of the people at Apple. What strikes me as strange is that there are educated people, psychologists and whatnot, who support the notion of the Mac community being a geeky version of the 700 Club with Steve Jobs as our illustrious leader with comparatively bad hair.
The Mac community is a clan of zombie-eyed sheep who devour everything that spews forth from the mouth of Steve Jobs? I donit think so. Want proof? Mention the demise of the once-free iTools to a group of Mac users and youill get responses ranging from, "If Jobs were here right now Iid have him drawn and quartered over a hot bed of salt," to "If Jobs were here right now Iid lob off my big toe with a popsicle stick, and offer it as penance for having impure thoughts about my Mac." Thatis quite a range.
Oh sure, the Mac community has its zealots. There are those who have cardboard cutouts of Steve Jobs pasted tastefully around their homes; and those who attack anyone who speaks ill of the Mac with the finesse of a rabid chihuahua in heat, but there are many more Mac users who simply like using their computers of choice. Yes, there are those of us who ievangelizei the Mac, but is that a sign of cult behavior, or merely the healthy promotion of a product we like a lot? Iim no psychologists, but I tend to think that most Mac users are independent thinking folks who just happen to like the same thing and enjoy that fact.
One Mac user, Lynda F., read the Wired News article and wrote to tell me she felt that the article, and others that portray Mac users as cultists, puts an unsavory face on the Mac community. She feels that potential switchers may read these comments and decide against buying a Mac. After all, what mentally balanced person would want to become a cult member? While the Wired News article, in my view, is even handed in its approach to the subject, I have to agree with Lynda that the media, in general, seems to enjoy painting the Mac community as a bunch of fanatics.
I would go further and say that those who insist that using a Mac is one step away from sacrificing a goat with an Apple Logo branded on its butt during the Vernal Equinox are likely not Mac fans. I think that many of them are trying to understand something by conveniently tossing it into a bucket labeled "cult," then justifying the label with a bunch of pseudo-psychological mumbo-jumbo.
Itis not the articles that bother me so much as it is the off-handed way that some people view the Mac. To some, Mac users are "those people," outsiders, the kid that never quite fit in, the odd man out. We are dismissed as being weak-minded users of slow, overpriced, but really cool looking computers. The irony is that most Mac users actually view others as being weak-minded users of cheap, unreliable, and really ugly computers.
There is, however, some changing of attitudes that is underway, I think. Macs are being accepted in places where they were once joked about, for instance. PC users may not want to switch, but some can now appreciate why Mac users like their machines. Still, there will always be those who find it easier to slap a convenient label on a group of Mac users. It happens.
I like Macs. There, Iive said it. I have an Apple logo sticker on my car and when people ask me about computers, generally the conversation is likely to include Macs. I donit say, "May Steve bless you," when someone sneezes, I donit stand on orange crates in the middle of pedestrian traffic and proclaim that the only path to true digital-salvation is through an iPod (even if it is true), and if Steve Jobs and I wear the same brand of underwear it is by coincidence only. (Really!)
So, to anyone thinking of switching to a Mac, rest assured that the tattoo on the forehead is not required to enjoy your new computer, it merely makes a cool fashion statement.
Vern Seward is a frustrated writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. Heis been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.