POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Umberto Eco, Religion and Macintosh Computers...

As I am on the record as being quite a fan of Windows Vista (SP1) and being in the company of and in  friendship with many Mac users, I felt compelled to write.  I have long feared my Mac friends tend towards conformity and in the extreme I fear many stoop into odd forms of Idolatry. In light of this troubling technological sojourn I have found a profound mind which has given voice to my feelings.

The eminent linguist, philosopher and critic Umberto Eco has a very insightful comparison in the ancient Mac vs. PC debates of yore.  Though his writing was more to the DOS/WIN era vs. MAC I find the echos of Eco's thoughts quite relevant today. What is his thesis?  Mac is much more like Roman Catholicism and the PC much more like Protestantism.  Oh yes...now before my Mac using, uber cool Protestant friends tear thy garments go on over to read Eco's essay - The Holy War Mac vs. DOS.

I find the comparison quite revealing and interesting...

  • Protestants have long cobbled together their faith with an independent spirit, willing to read Scripture, write doctrine and even go against the standard rule of religious orthodoxy of the day.  With a PC you can choose your hardware manufacturer, choose the software you run on it, choose all sorts of peripherals and configurations you would like.  For instance, my laptop has several crazy things on it that you can't get on a Mac - you just have to take what they give you.  I have a fingerprint login, SD card drive, VGA and HDMI ports to hook up to video - no dongle even...all built in!
  • Catholics offer a highly controlled doctrine and environment...there is one view of the church, it comes down from the Vatican and the Holy Father turns the ship.  Much like Apple computers...you must trust that Steve Jobs is the most awesomest ever and always gives us what we need.  So with the MAC you get a wonderful, high church experience with beauty and transcedence "given" to you from One Infinite Loop (the Mac Vatican).

Of course all is lost today in the spin and noise.  Mac's are cool - PCs are stodgy, nerdy people who are just not hip.  Just watch the switcher ads - Mac...young, cool with it.  PC is...well, a lovable nerd...great advertising which gives great laughs...but far from the truth. 

Only Mac people can feel "unique, rebellious and special" for using laptops that are sold in preconfigured bundles with little to no individual customization. It is a profound social phenomena the uniqueness of Mac users.  I think perhaps the blog "Stuff White People Like" describes this phenemona best.  I'll give Christian Lander the last words here today:

...Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique. They are an exclusive product line only used by every white college student, designer, writer, English teacher, and hipster on the planet...

...Apple products also come with stickers. Some people put them on their computer, some people put them on windows, but to take it to the pinnacle of whiteness, you need to put the Apple sticker in the rear window of your Prius, Jetta, BMW, Subaru 4WD Station Wagon or Audi. You then need to drive to a local coffee shop (Starbucks will do in a pinch) and set up your apple for the world to see. Thankfully, the Apple logo on the back will light up! So even in a dark place, people can see how unique and creative you (and the five other people doing the exact same thing) truly are!

Oh you just have to love Stuff White People Like...You can read the entire post in context here: Stuff White People Like #40 - Apple Products.  Carry on my Mac brothers - you are cooler than me and Mac's are a fine computer - just like Steve Jobs wants it.  He always knows best!

(PS - this is humor for all the especially zealous Mac religious devotees who might be very angry with me - it is meant to promote laughter, not flame mail in the comments...but if you must, give it back to me below.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day!)