In any computer related discussion where the question is put forth as to why PC users are not Mac users, one common response is that it's not so much Macintosh computers that they have a problem with, but it's the negative perception of a typical Mac user...
"I don't mind Macs, but I'd never get one myself because of the arrogant elitist zealots that use them!"
...or some other variation of the same theme in that Mac users are 'bad' people, so therefore Macs are best avoided.
This is presumably out of fear that having one will make them a bad person too. Or perhaps not being wanted to be tarred with that brush themselves. Or possibly out of some potentially self-defeating principle.
But seriously, is a change of computing platform really going to drastically change your personality? Is your own personality so small that you fear the brand of computer you use will negatively define you in the eyes of others? Are you really going to avoid finding out if a Mac would be of benefit to you just to spite someone you know who has one?
Are you really going to cut off your nose to spite your face?
Maybe I'm missing something, but this 'reason' why not to choose a Mac, is probably the weakest and most irrational reason of all. Probably because unlike all the other reasons on this site, it's not dealing with the logicality of computers. It's dealing with human emotions, psychology, and interactions. Humans are just weird!
You can probably leave it at that if you want. But if you're wondering why anyone would believe such a broad generalisation anyway, then read on, and all shall become clear... as mud...
No smoke without fire?
So, are all Mac users overly zealous about their computers, for instance? No, of course not... no more than all British people have bad teeth, or all Americans have false breasts made of cheeseburgers (I just made that one up by the way). But are some Mac users overly zealous about their computers? Oh yes, no doubt about that! But why it is this and similar stereotypes are typically only attributed to the Mac user minority?
One potential answer is in the question: 'Minority'.
In dealing with human psychology, this is actually quite a sizeable topic, and I have neither the qualifications nor the inclination to go into it too far. I will however attempt to offer a non-partisan perspective that you may not have considered.
For a prime example of this alleged "arrogant elitist zealous" behaviour, browse any forum on the internet where the subject of Macs verses PCs are raised; of which a new one seems to crop up every day somewhere.
Internet forums by their very nature, attract opinionated individuals. With the comfort of anonymity on their side, they can be as noisy and obnoxious as they like with no fear of being punched in the face. As such, you probably won't have to wait very long before broad generalisations are being tossed around, opinions are being passed off as unarguable beacons of truth, which all rather quickly follows into childish name calling and Christmas cards not being exchanged. A proper geek slapfest!
So whose fault it is when the hair pulling starts? Is is those "arrogant elitist zealous" Mac users again, stirring up trouble? Perhaps. Or perhaps not...
Passions and rivalries
Most people are passionate about something to some degree. Whether it be their favourite football team, or their country, or their garden gnome collection. Or, for some geeks, their computers are their passion... as odd/sad as that may sound to ordinary folk. And where you have passion, you have the potential of rivalries. And in the world of geekdom, rivalries don't get much bigger or long running than Mac verses PC.
Imagine then, you're in one of these public forums, and there are participants denigrating something you are passionate about. Implying anyone who doesn't agree with their point of view, must be a deluded fool. Now, you know everything being said is at best, highly subjective, or at worst, utter ignorant drivel. So would you not feel inclined to respond? Even if just so others who would see this, are not needlessly misinformed? How would you respond?
Do you offer an extensive point-by-point rebuttals of the questionable points made? Do you respond with defensiveness, anger, and ridicule? Or with retaliatory negative denigration of whatever you perceive your 'rivals' must be passionate about? Or would you shrug it all off, sound in the knowledge that you know better, and leave them and their audience in their blissful ignorance?
It's not hard to imagine that many folk's response would not be of the latter. And nor is it hard to imagine that whatever your response is, will immediately be rubbished by the aforementioned opinionated individuals, and you dismissed as a deluded 'Fanboy'.
And thus follows pre-emptive defensiveness whenever the subject ever comes up again, which then only reinforces the negative stereotypes even more, and so on and so forth... Catch 22.
And before you make any judgements as to which 'side' is which if this were a Mac vs. PC argument, much as one 'side' may like to believe their 'side' always has the moral high ground, it actually works either way.
Consider then that perhaps it's not the Mac user minority that exhibit all the negative characteristics, but it is people that exhibit negative characteristics, and their choice of computing platform is not the primary defining factor. Just maybe consider, you're much more likely to perceive negative characteristics in those whom you disagree with, than in those whom are like-minded to yourself.
...as for any future negative generalisations of the Mac user minority, ask yourself:
- Is there no smoke without fire... or is it judgemental stereotyping of a minority by a majority?
- Is this a deluded minority spouting unjustified hyperbole... or do they have a point that the majority refuse to acknowledge out of ignorance or some misguided principle?
- Are such negative characteristics really unique to this minority... or it it simply that the majority cannot or choose not to see equally negative characteristics in themselves or those like-minded to themselves?
- Is defensiveness exhibited by this minority unwarranted paranoia... or is it the result of previous provocation in a way a majority could never fully comprehend?
- Are they fools... or do they simply have a perspective that you do not share?
Can we all perhaps just get along now, please?
Page content last updated 25 April 2009