Where Have All The (Mac) Zealots Gone?

You donit have to do too much to me to get me to admit that Iim an avid Mac user. In fact, I could be walking down a crowded street when someone will ask me the time, and I might reply, "Itis twelve forty two. Did you know that Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh?"

Usually the person will walk away quickly or call the cops, but every once in a while, one will hear me tell my Mac tale. These people who listen to me seldom buy Macs unless the word "Big" is in front of it, and then only if you give them the money to do so, but they do listen, and between offers of wine or sex for cash from some of the other folks walking by, they usually express great interest. That was especially true during the Dark Days, when being a Mac users meant being the geekis geek, an outcast among outcasts. Mac users were laughed at when we were lucky, spit on if we werenit. We were ridiculed, harassed, and poked with pointy sticks.

Nowadays itis easy to be a Mac fan, but back in the Day, it was rough. Many of us took the abuse our PC bretheren heaped upon us in silence, but there were those of us who voiced our indignation with the zeal of a wounded lioness defending her cub. We attacked anyone who dared challenge our choice of computer, bludgeoning them with facts, pseudo-facts, heart-felt reasoning, and outright profanity. If we were timidly asked if Macs could share a file with a PC we would berate the asker for even posing such a silly question. Then weid detail the many ways Macs are compatible, not just with PCs, but with everything from a pocket calculator to a Cray. If the person had the audacity to still wait for an answer, we would give it to her while making her feel as stupid as possible for having picked a computer other than a Mac. To this day, my Mom still wonit ask me another computer related question.

Itis amazing how much things have changed. We read in PC-centric press that an OS X based Mac is a reasonable alternative to PCs. We hear the same people who use to poke us with pointy sticks because of our computer choice now asking us to recommend a model, "for a friend." We can actually wear our Applet-shirts with pride in public places. Itis liberating!

All of the accolades that are being heaped on Apple lately are well deserved. Apple has done a phenomenal job with hardware and software, and I have to believe that what we see is only the beginning. One has to wonder, however, about all of those folks who fiercely defended Apple when Apple needed defending; where are they now?

Itis hard to pick an argument with PC folks if they are leaning towards your side already. In times past, if you told a group of PC-weenies, "Macs rock," you could expect to get pummeled into an unrecognizable mass of protoplasm, or, at least accused of missing sigificant amounts of gray matter. Now, say the same thing to the same group of PC-weenies and theyill agree with you, invite you into their homes, and even let you date their daughters. So, whatis a zealot to do? What do Mac zealots do during the dry years, when Macs are cool and everybody wants one?

The zealots are still around, of course. Just say anything remotely negative about the Mac out loud and you are sure to get your rump handed to you on a paper plate, complete with a side-order of fries. The cacophony of ridicule for daring to offer even constructive criticism can be measured on earthquake monitors. Write a word of ill-press against Macs and the replies becomes a feeding frenzy that could put a school of starving Great White Sharks in chum-filled water to shame, but not many people are saying anything negative about the Mac anymore (I do once in a while, but usually in jest). Where do the Mac zealots go between feedings? What do they do? Are they breeding? Are there little Mac zealots doggedly defending iPods somewhere?

I wonder because these folks were the staunchest supporters of Macs back when supporting Macs was unpopular, and the Mac community owes them thanks. They hung in there when the weak-hearted defected to the Dark Side. These stalwarts of the Mac actually liked the Pippin, rejoiced over CyberDog (I liked that one too), and nearly gave Jobs his rear gift wrapped when he decided to axe the Newton. Yet these techno-terriers hung in there, barking at anyone foolish enough to tread on Appleis rapidly attenuating turf, sometimes even biting the hand that that fed them their Macs when decisions coming out of 1 Infinity seemed odd in the least, idiotic in the extreme.

Oh sure, there were a few rabid zealots; those whose vocabulary and reasoned thought could not match their indignation at even the most inoffensive, but negative word about their once-proud platform, and they resorted to saying, "PCs SUX, MACS ROOLZ!!!" Alas, even rabid zealots have money, they bought the clones, and the peripherals, and the few games that were available then. (I still have the very first game I bought for my Perfoma 6115, it is Myst!) They helped the platform remain viable, helped peripheral makers survive the lean years, and gave outfits like Bungie their start.

I know youire out there, you zealots of the Mac, you hardy band of warriors. I just want to say, "thank you." You believed when few believed, you bought when Macs were beige, you stayed when the ship looked like it was sinking. I salute you, and I hope we never have to need you again.