Friday Random Ten – The “If You Put Them All In a Room, Will They Sync Up?” Edition

Or, “Where I Crap on Mac Users,” thanks to this delightful essay pointing out the class aspirations inherent to Apple products, cost, technology, and design. Consider this your daily flame.

…something that to me is so obvious that it barely needs mentioning, and yet I never see people talk about it openly: the real advantage of Apple, for many people, is that Apple products are status objects. Displaying your Apple stuff proudly is just yet another of our culture’s myriad ways to engage in a little subtle classism. Apple products are expensive, some very expensive, and they are often significantly more expensive than non-Apple equivalents. When I bring this up in cautioning people about buying a particular Apple product (even in the course of endorsing such a purchase) there’s a weird defenselessness that happens. People don’t disagree, and yet they don’t weigh that as a negative factor, either…

And that brings us to “Apple culture.” This is a phenomenon we’re all aware of. I can’t tell you how often I’ve discussed a potential purchase, of a computer or phone or MP3 player, where my frank discussions of features compared to price point get held up because of terms like “philosophy,” “individualism,” “creativity,” “personality.” You know– all the things that purchasing a commodity can’t give you? That stuff tends to dominate discussion of Apple products, and has been the essence of Apple advertising for years. There is somehow an Apple culture, and this culture is associated with all kinds of vague (but very real!) virtues. There is, according to many, a category of “Apple people,” and this somehow means more than people who prefer Apple products but instead has everything to do with a person’s personal virtue, and most importantly, how “unique” they are, a term thrown around about a commodity owned by millions with such disregard for its basic denotation that my eyes glaze over when I hear it. All of this stuff, this strange but inescapable reference to Apple culture, is just a way to hide guilt about the frank status projection that prominently displaying your iPhone represents.

I’d argue, too, that this kind of class signaling was prominent in VW advertising in the early aughts, and in more recent auto brand development for cars like the Toyota Prius. And part of the appeal is the whitebread Scandanavian design aesthetic that people really latch on to, Americans in particular, that signals the urban upperclass. And don’t even get me started on the choice to make Justin Long the Mac spokesperson, a guy who looks like he’s never had a hard day in his life. Talk about type-casting.

But that’s just me, and it’s the me that is currently in love with my second-hand iPod that my mom gifted me when she was on serious medication post-surgery, and the me that is in dire need of quality podcast suggestions in the comments.

In the meantime, the FRT, one night early because I “think different.” Videos below the jump.

1) Gary Numan – You Are in My Vision
2) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Answer Me
3) Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Devil Do
4) Q-Tip – Official
5) Black Mountain – Stormy High
6) Edith Frost – Playmate
7) The Fall – Lay Of The Land
8) Johnson & Jonson – Anything Possible
9) Women – Cameras
10) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Sheep May Safely Graze

Sharon Jones’ voice makes me happy, and I’m encouraged by her story, she having been a working class woman who didn’t find creative success until middle age. Her backing band, The Dap Kings, have played with other notable recording artists like Rufus Wainwright and Amy Winehouse despite not getting enough credit for helping to craft their signature sounds. Here’s a sweet acoustic version of Jones’ hit “How Long.”

And for a more characteristic song showing their big Motown sound, see “100 Days, 100 Nights”:

And Edith Frost, who I love, and who is immortalized in this sweetly dorky appearance on a Chicago public access show singing “Cars and Parties.”

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68 comments for “Friday Random Ten – The “If You Put Them All In a Room, Will They Sync Up?” Edition

  1. Andrea
    January 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Except that the premise of that “whitebread Scandinavian design” was that it be afordable for everyone (not just rich urbanites), a sentiment which comes largely out of their predominantly democratic socialist systems. But otherwise, agreed, Apple is largely about status. I still love my iPhone ;-) And Scandinavia.

  2. chipchop
    January 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    I was just talking to someone today about “Apple Culture” (though we didn’t think to call it that. He said, “You know things are getting weird when I feel like I’m supporting the uncool underdog when I buy something from a huge-ass corporation like Microsoft.”

  3. Marksman2000
    January 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    I just bought my first Apple product, an iMac, because I think PC’s are pure shit.

    Now I’ll never go back to PC’s.

    • January 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm

      Granted, my PC was built by a local company to spec, but nine years later it’s still tickin’.

  4. Gina
    January 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I completely agree about Apple. I switched to Mac a few years ago because I was frustrated with the usability and interface of Windows. But I foolishly didn’t do any research on the usability and interface of OSX before switching – I just believed all the hype saying “it just works.” Well, that was stupid of me. Both operating systems have their pros and cons, and I would hesitate to declare either one better than the other. What I would declare a total piece of crap, though, is my super expensive PowerBook, which died in a spectacular fashion after only two years of gentle use. I hadn’t bought Apple Care because the computer itself was so expensive, and my experience with extended warranties has always been that products die just outside of the time frame. After my PowerBook died, I switched back to Windows. I get to choose which computer I want (rather than just buying whatever Apple is producing), I get to pay less, I get more flexibility with programs I might need to use, I get more compatibility with my partner’s computer (which is a PC), and I get to avoid the inane and obnoxious commentary on how cool my computer was from complete strangers – I was always irritated by the idea that we share some deep life philosophy because we both bought Apples. I don’t care if people want to buy Apples, I just get irritated when they’re self-righteous about it, because really, it’s just a computer!

  5. Jolly Sapper
    January 29, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Being poor,I’ll stick with PC’s. I can always scrounge up parts from recycling centers and forgotten storage closets at offices.

    About the only thing I’ll give Apple, is that with the habit of some PC users who try to make their PC’s as shiny as the newest Apples I can always find perfectly good parts in somebody’s trash can ;)

    Unrelated side note:
    I’ve always had the feeling that what Microsoft did with operating systems Apple has done with hardware.

  6. January 29, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Except that the premise of that “whitebread Scandinavian design” was that it be afordable for everyone (not just rich urbanites), a sentiment which comes largely out of their predominantly democratic socialist systems.

    And that’s what I find ironic about Apple products, in that they stole a design aesthetic that was meant to be accessible for all (see also: Target) but made it so expensive that only certain economic classes could afford it.

  7. Alice
    January 29, 2010 at 12:07 am

    My Friday Random Ten (the “what the hell is the apple tablet – I’m so tired of constantly updating my shizzz” Edition)

    Sam Roberts – Where Have All the Good People Gone?
    The Decemberists – Cautionary Tale
    Regina Spektor – Better
    Pixies – The Happening
    The Raconteurs – Blue Veins
    The Kooks – Too Much of Nothing
    Creedance Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary
    Jeff Buckley – Best of Me
    Joni Mitchell – A Case of You
    Ben Harper – Walk Away

  8. January 29, 2010 at 12:16 am

    I can kind of see where they’re coming from. True, they are more expensive and they do have a really nice aesthetic that appeals to a certain group of people. On the other hand, I buy Mac because, in my opinion, it is a superior product. I am not wealthy by any means, but I saved and worked over time hours to buy the computer that I wanted. Apple’s products are innovative, easy to use and have a long life. True, you can go buy a PC laptop for half the price, but you’ll probably be shopping for a new one twice as fast. I paid for longevity. I don’t know that the question is really that of status but of quality. That’s not to say that there aren’t those that get really caught up in the whole status thing, though and see having a Mac as a bragging right.

  9. January 29, 2010 at 2:10 am

    I have a Macbook, and I’m a little uncomfortable about the class implications of this product. I don’t like Mac’s advertising (it feel very exclusionary), and I don’t like people assuming things about me based on the computer I use. However, I choose a Mac because my university’s tech support is available for the newest mac os, but not windows vista–which means many vista users have a ton of problems with my schools’ wireless, but no assistance (which is my school’s problem, not microsoft, or people who buy PCs). My partner bought an HP laptop at the same time, and his computer has needed constant maintenance and needed reformatting twice because of viruses that cannot infect my mac (though I am aware more and more viruses are being developed that target mac products).

    I really miss gaming on my laptop, but so far the lack of upkeep effort my mac has required has made it less of a headache than my old dell, or my partner’s laptop. But, if something does go wrong, I won’t have a lot of repair options, unlike a PC where I can do much of the work myself (or get help from a computer savvy friend). I’m not sure whether I’ll stick with Mac or switch back to PC when the time comes for a new computer. Mac certainly has decent longevity, based on personal anecdata, but I’m not sure if it was worth the extra expense, considering that the os’ each have their own usability benefits and detriments.

  10. exholt
    January 29, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Granted, my PC was built by a local company to spec, but nine years later it’s still tickin’.

    A part of this is due to the fact that older computers used to be built better, especially those by local businesses because building something of quality spec was still relatively profitable.

    As someone who has worked in IT, I observed a similar pattern to build quality of many notebooks which seem to reach the peak of quality/hardiness sometime in the late 1990s till around 2000-2001. Afterwards, with a few exceptions, nearly every notebook manufacturer ended up cutting corners…and I saw similar trends with desktops as the vast majority of computer consumers tend to buy solely/mostly on price with little/no consideration of technical specs/quality as a result of technical ignorance and/or lack of time/inclination to research the products adequately before purchase.

    Apple managed to become successful in marketing itself as a high-quality brand not only because many of their products are well-built and designed, but also because their success started happening precisely around the time most PC manufacturers were cutting serious corners in an attempt to win market share on the basis of meeting the lowest price point with quality/hardiness being an afterthought.

    Another way apple positioned itself as a quality brand was to charge higher prices. Unfortunately, too many people have bought into the notion that a higher prices item automatically equals higher quality when that is not necessarily so…and Apple has realized and taken advantage of this attitude.

    I also find it ironic that Apple has successfully positioned itself with some justification as a high quality brand over the last several years when just 15 years ago, they were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy partially because the quality of their machines and software were so lacking in relation to the astronomical prices they were charging back then.

  11. Henry
    January 29, 2010 at 2:19 am

    “Apple culture” is just one more ingredient of “hipster douchebag culture”. It’s not classism, really; Apple products are popular among certain types for the same reason that people show off their taste in ridiculously obscure bands or movies (or any other kind of art), loudly proclaim their veganism or environmental activism, or constantly talk your ear off about their “amazing experiences” in whatever foreign country. It’s all a carefully constructed image to let everyone around them know how uniquely stylish and sophisticated they are. I think Apple products are overpriced because of the image, I don’t think they have the image because they’re overpriced. Just like ironic t-shirts and sneakers.

  12. Henry
    January 29, 2010 at 2:43 am
  13. January 29, 2010 at 6:17 am

    To chipchop, Marksman2000, etc.:
    Or, instead of buying into the false Microsoft/Apple dichotomy, just use GNU/Linux. :)
    Ubuntu, for example, also “just works”.

    Just my $0.02 of flame. :P

  14. mk
    January 29, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gadgets and class, largely because I just attended a conference where I knew I’d be in for a weekend of phone-lust. Among my professional peers, smartphones seem to be the standard–where a few years ago iPhones were a novelty, now you can’t turn around without running into one (or, increasingly, a Droid).

    And 361 days of the year, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m content with my dumb-phone, I can’t justify paying for a data plan, and I feel good about saving my money for other big purchases instead of technology.

    But two weekends a year (one in the summer, one in the winter) I feel completely out of the loop. And I find myself trying to make up for this in other ways, too–whereas normally I try to limit how often I go out to eat or to a bar, if “everybody” is eating dinner at some ridiculous hotel restaurant or getting cocktails after a session, I go right along.

    (I should say that I know I’m not actually alone in not having a smartphone, and that the very fact that I can afford to go to the conferences means that I’m better off than some or many of my peers. But the impression persists.)

  15. January 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

    After I got an ipod free with the apple computer that I bought a couple years ago when I started grad school, I took to calling ipods simply “pods.” Now the new ipad has come out… but somehow I am reluctant to go around calling it a “pad.”

    My Friday random ten:
    1. Pete Yorn – Carlos (Don’t let it go to your…)
    2. Interpol – Hands Away
    3. M. Ward – Eyes on the Prize
    4. Hercules and Love Affair – Easy
    5. Arab Strap – Hello Daylight
    6. Nina Simone – Feeling Good
    7. The Shins – Blue Eyes – Cary Brothers
    8. Tegan & Sara – City Girl
    9. Ani DiFranco – 32 Flavors
    10. John Coltrane – It’s easy to remember (But so hard…)

  16. January 29, 2010 at 7:52 am

    And my FRT, FWIW:
    1) Tool – Bottom
    2) Metallica – Where The Wild Things Are
    3) Danzig – I Don’t Mind The Pain
    4) Acid King – Blaze In
    5) Queen Elephantine – Ramessess II
    6) Minotauri – Under The Cross
    7) Jethro Tull – Aqualung
    8) Tristania – Deadlocked
    9) Blind Guardian – The Soulforged
    10) Thyrfing – Själavrak

  17. Vera
    January 29, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “Apple culture” reminds me of emo culture. It’s all about self expression! Individuality! Escape from the mainstream! But by everyone buying the exact. Same. Thing.

    Also, this fabled ‘longevity’ of Apple products is a bit misleading. What you should really look at, especially in gagdets, is what happens if it does break down. And Apple products? Usually can’t be fixed or upgraded as easily, especially if you only want to upgrade say, the graphics card.

  18. Alara Rogers
    January 29, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I have a serious problem with the concept that buying Apple anything is the “hip, cool, individualistic” alternative, when a. every. single. goddamn. mp3-player tie-in (clocks with mp3 docks, radios with mp3 docs, car stereos, blah blah) have a special iPod port, and not a special proprietary port for anything else. Since my Sansa sounds like crap going through the headphone jack unless you’re actually wearing headphones, I’m very limited in what tie-in products I can buy for it. If I had an iPod, the world would cater to my needs. somehow I’m not reading that as the *individualistic* choice, then.

    Also, how can Apple be individualistic when you can’t customize the damn things? All Apple products work only with Apple manufactured parts. I can buy a Dell PC and then go get a black and green case with a clear siding and neon cooling pipes, add to it a custom fan that has LEDs that spell out whatever lame message I want them to, put in a DVD-ROM drive with a bright purple faceplate, and load it up with games, free software and a screensaver that makes fish swim around on my screen, and I can do all that for significantly less money than I could buy an understated IKEA-looking light purple Macintosh that has to emulate Windows to run any freeware.

    Mac is the computer of choice for artsy types who never want to get their hands dirty fixing or customizing their own machines. (Also, for people who want to do hardcore graphics work like computer animation, though even there PCs have begun to compete.) The plethora of choices available for PC hardware and software is so wide, it can drive you nuts — I think that’s why so many people *want* a machine by Dell or HP that just does what it’s supposed to do out of the box and don’t bother to customize it. There are too many options. But that doesn’t say that the Mac is more *individual*. Exactly the opposite, in fact. The only good thing I’ll say about Mac and individualism is that you’re much more likely to be able to get a corporate Mac in pretty colors than a corporate PC. But for your home PC, the limitation is only in the extent of your own knowledge of what’s available to buy for it.

  19. January 29, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I think there are all kinds of reasons people buy Apple products.

    I started with Macs because I needed a word processor and I didn’t have time to learn all the weird commands to make DOS run. When Windows came out, I looked at it, and it was clearly substandard–and a rip-off of Macs at that, which pissed me off; I didn’t bother to look again because I’m a creature of habit, and once I find something that works I tend to stick with it.

    My first mp3 player was an iRiver because I wanted something that could record to mp3. Six years later, my second was an iPod because I needed a replacement for my PDA and ransoming a smart phone from the phone company every month was out of the question, expense-wise.

    I buy these things for what they can do. That they are also pretty is nice, but not the point. I know they’re expensive. That’s a drawback, not a feature.

  20. January 29, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I have a Dell that’s now over 7 years old. I’ve had it mailed across the country and then put on a truck to come back. On the drive back it had four of its cards shooken loose and they had to be popped back in place. It still runs perfectly.

    As for the ultimate symbol of having too much money and not enough brains to recognize its value, you have to go with a liberal arts degree or a juris doctor.

  21. Tlönista
    January 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Yes, exactly, and this goes for many other mass-produced goods, from skinny vanilla lattes to Priuses. The high quality isn’t what makes it expensive; the expensiveness marks it as high quality. Conspicuous consumption, alt.mainstream, blah blah blah. It makes me feel a little sick sometimes.

    And yes, I’m typing this on an iBook, bought five years ago before a lot of things happened. Unfortunately, it’s not vintage-chic yet to cart around an old Apple laptop, it just means that you couldn’t afford to upgrade…:P

  22. Persia
    January 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    The marketing of Macs is unfortunate, but it’s also worked very well for them, and I’d be sad if they went away– both because of the Microsoft hegemony and because I use Macs at work– so…I don’t know. Ditto for Priuses– I bought my car both for fuel efficiency and for its quietness (when you have a HoH family member, these things become very important). If people are buying them as ‘status symbols,’ I’m not sure I care, because it means people will keep making them.

    Podcasts: This American Life (of course), APM’s The Story, and I really like the Techtronic Sound podcast. And the Gay Pimpin’ with Johnny McGovern podcast– which is obscene, not always politically correct, but funny as hell– and it’s nice to have some genderqueer voices on my mp3 player as well as the usual gay and lesbian folks.

  23. Bonn
    January 29, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I had my last Powerbook for 5 years. I saved up and got my new Macbook about a year and a half ago, slightly used. It was expensive and everyone said to me, “Why not just pay $600 for a PC?” And I said to them, “Why would I pay $600 for a computer I don’t like?” And they didn’t get it. Because to them, it doesn’t matter. A computer is a computer is a computer. And that’s fine. But I live on my computer. I want to buy a house I’m comfortable in. Not one that’s cheap or that will need repairs and tuneups all the time. (And it’s actually LOADS easier to service a Mac than a Dell in Tokyo, so I’m good to go if something happens.)

    It isn’t classism. I don’t shove my computer in anyone’s face. It sits at home 99.9% of the time. I didn’t buy it to be cool or trendy or hip. I bought it because I like Macs and hate using Windows and have used primarily Macs for the past 14 or so years (dad needs computers, we always had computers when I was growing up, and he switched to Macs and we never went back). And maybe someone buys a Mac just to be cool or look rich? I dunno. That would be silly. But maybe someone does. I would bet most don’t. They buy Macs because they’re user-friendly (my mom can use it all by herself … sorta sometimes), because they need it for work/hobbies, or because they’re reliable and don’t have some of the problems that other PCs have. I highly doubt so many people are doing it to rub something in someone else’s face.

    And honestly? A Mac Mini is $600. “But Macs are so expensive!” Right, I’ve seen ordinary Windows type laptops going for $2000 and more. News Flash! Computers can be expensive! This just in! Computers can also be relatively inexpensive! My iMac in college crashed sometimes, but it didn’t randomly SHUT ITSELF OFF the way the cheap PC I had to buy for a university computer class did. And I never had to format the HD of any of my Macs the way my freshman roommate had to for her Dell … four times. I would sincerely hope that she paid a lot less for her computer, otherwise she got screwed. It was always messed up in some way, getting viruses, and so on.

    My MacBook is perfect for me. I love it. I’m not going to apologize for owning it. And in a few years when I’m ready for a new computer again, it’ll be a Mac too. And if someone wants to think I’m a snob because I save my money for a computer I really like … well … then I just think you have an interesting world view. Like thinking people are snobs because they buy Kashi shredded wheat instead of Frosted Mini Wheats even though they don’t like Frosted Mini Wheats. If you don’t like Apple … who cares? Don’t buy one. I do, so I buy it, and that’s what matters to me.

  24. January 29, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I find the Apple hype kind of icky. But I have to say that their products tend to be higher quality and thus last longer, and they really put a lot of focus on making the interface intuitive and easy to use.

    I use both a Mac (at home) and a PC (at work), and I can use either, but prefer the Mac. I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod, and plan to buy and iPad as soon as it’s available… primarily for iBooks.

    My basic buying philosophy is to buy as high-end in terms of quality as I can, and then use it to ragged bits. Buying Apple fits well in that framework.

  25. norbizness
    January 29, 2010 at 11:05 am

    1. Steppin’ Out by The Dictators 2. Ebony Eyes by The Stylistics 3. Up Above My Head There’s Music in the Air by Sister Rosetta Tharpe 4. Walking Blues by Son House 5. Meccanik Dancing (Oh We Go) by XTC 6. Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer 7. Candy Man by The Reverend Gary Davis 8. Butter by A Tribe Called Quest 9. Dimples and Toes by The Residents 10. Rusty Cage by Soundgarden

  26. January 29, 2010 at 11:08 am

    There are a whole lot of reasons why my Mac is the best choice for me, and none of them are about status. In the phrase, “Apple products are expensive, some very expensive, and they are often significantly more expensive than non-Apple equivalents,” implies that there are other options that are equivalent except for being both cheaper and perceived as lower-status. I’m not sure that that’s the case for many users. For some, probably yes, but for a lot of Mac users there are definite things about the system that they cannot find elsewhere that provide them with real advantages.

    Is the idea that for any product that is marketed by more than one manufacturer where one manufacturer’s version is more expensive, buying anything but the cheapest possible model is a classist act, even if that model provides you with features that you like? Are Kitchenaid mixers classist because they cost more than no-name brand mixers of dubious quality? It’s certainly true that they are largely associated with and marketed through the use of affluent-looking white people, and among most circles I’ve been in, having a really good, heavy-duty Kitchenaid mixer gets you more oohs, aahs and status points than using a Mac does. But then… they are also really good mixers. So if you buy one, do we have to know whether or not you bought it because of the quality or the status before we can talk about it as a classist act, or are is the ownership of a Kitchenaid mixer fundamentally classist?

  27. jennifer
    January 29, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Podcast suggestions:
    PRI’s The World in Words (actually all of the World’s podcasts – the World in Words is just my favorite but they’re all pretty rad)
    History Beating Up Politics
    BBC World Service Documentaries

  28. ACG
    January 29, 2010 at 11:13 am

    My “desktop” computer at home is actually a MacBook, since I don’t really have a desk at home but I do have a lap. I bought it because a) it was a refurb and a great deal, b) I do a lot of work with graphics and Macs are pretty much the undisputed masters for that, and c) shiiiiiiiiiny.

    My everyday carry-along computer is an Acer netbook double-booting Windows and Linux. When it comes to word-processing and surfing the Internet, I figure I don’t need to spend more than $350 on a machine–and it fits in my purse. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s also shiny (and sparkly!).

    So my first reaction to the iPad presentation was, “Ooh, shiiiiny.” My second reaction was, “That is so slick! But then, my netbook does e-mail.” And, “That is so slick! But then, my netbook does my calendar.” And, “That is so slick! But I don’t need anything more than I already have for video/music/photos/surfing the Internet/whatever on my netbook.” In the end, it’s just not worth $500 for a thinner profile and gestures. Even if it does have the Apple logo. And is shiny.

  29. ACG
    January 29, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Interesting thing, though: Since I started using Linux, I’ve become almost as much of a Linux-douche as the Apple-douches I know and love. I take it as a counterculture point of pride to slide it into conversation (as I did above), I’ve left the default Fedora wallpaper up in case anyone happens to look, and I’ve been thinking about getting a Tux sticker for my car, just to show that I’m cooler and more individualistic than all of the faux-individualistic Apple drones. Jesus, God, do I ever eat and drink external approval.

  30. Sheelzebub
    January 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I used to love Macs. But they’re not that great. They die within three years (they use the same hardware as a PC) and are 3x as expensive. They crash just as much, froze, shut down without warning. . .it was a nightmare. I paid how much for this BS? Bah. The only thing you get with a Mac is a pretty package and a truckload of smarmy ‘tude.

    When I was laid off and needed to replace my (dead, dead, DEAD) Mac, my Mac drone friends were horrified that I was going to buy a PC. They literally tore me a new one for doing this. I told them they were welcome to spend the money on a Mac for me, otherwise, I was going to take what little money I had to spare and buy a PC so that I could continue job searching.

    Yes, I could spend $600 on a Mac mini, but would still need to buy a monitor and keyboard. I could spend that much on an HP laptop, fully loaded. No contest.

    Yes, computers are expensive, but they aren’t THAT expensive. Bonn, that $2K Windows PC probably had every bell and whistle going; $1200-$2K is what a no-frills Mac starts at (if you don’t consider a monitor and a keyboard a frill).

  31. akeeyu
    January 29, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    You know, I like PCs because with virtually no know-how, I can replace my laptop’s battery, upgrade my own memory, and replace the keyboard after a family member dropped a camera on it and snapped off a handful of keys.

    Instead of paying $600 for a Mac netbook, I can get a PC equivalent for $200. That’s not a difference of “saving a little extra money” or “paying a little bit more.”

    The Apple Tax is SUBSTANTIAL.

    Comparing it to a KitchenAid is somewhat disingenuous. You can pick up a KitchenAid at any discount store. Nobody wears one. KitchenAid doesn’t have douchey advertising. There is not a cult of KitchenAid. Nerds don’t sit around on the Internet debating KitchenAid vs. Hamilton Beach and putting stickers on their car.

    If you’re going to compare a Mac to something, how about a BMW or a Mercedes? Nobody’s going to deny that a BMW is higher quality than a Geo Metro, but very few people will deny that it’s a status symbol, either.

    Most of the people I work with have to really scrounge these days to scrape up enough money to buy a shitty outdated secondhand PC. If you have enough money to be able to choose between Mac and PC, you’re in better shape than most consumers. That’s status. That’s class.

    Own it.

  32. shah8
    January 29, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve always thought the situation wrt mediaplayers was fairly absurd because the ipod nano, last I researched anything, was consistently one of the worst performers among high-end flash pmps and still costing as much as the best ones made by Cowon or iRiver or some other Korean co.

  33. January 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Podcast recommendations:
    BBC’s Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo – the best/funniest discussion of film and movies ever.

    CBC Radio 3 Weekly Podcast – it shocks and amazes me every week that it is all Canadian Indie music because it is always SO good. Judging by your playlist, you would like it.

    Second the Radiolab vote.

    Third Coast Re:Sound podcast – Radio/audio from around the world, always interesting and gathered in themes.

    PRI Selected Shorts – many a transcendent moment has occurred as I listened to actors read short stories in front of live audiences, so good.

    Ideas from CBC Radio – hour long programs investigating weighty and not so weighty topics. Topics range from culture/philosophy/religion/science – all handled in a serious and interesting manner.

    If you’re a reader, Writers and Company also from CBC: No one can match E. Wachtel’s subtle incisive interviewing of amazing writers. At least, not while The Book Show’s Gretchen Holbrook-Gerzina is on sabbatical this year….

    For the record, if you work with images or video, Mac’s are just 100 times easier. That’s not elitist, that’s a fact.

  34. January 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I don’t see how the supposed “classism” issue is relevant, seeing as how Apple products are not required or necessary for anyone. A person who simply needs a computer will not be worse off for buying a less expensive PC. I remain unconvinced that this is actually a problem.

  35. January 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Agreed that there’s a Mac cult and that some of it is elitism, but some of it also is superior performance, at least when it comes to computers and the iPhone. I use a PC at work, and sometimes check out a Dell laptop to bring home with me; I have a Mac for personal use. I have a Blackberry, and my room mate has an iPhone. Honestly, the Dell laptop is so terrible I have a hard time using it for an extended period of time. And especially for photos, the Mac just can’t be beat — better screen quality, etc. I’m also planning on getting an iPhone as soon as my current phone contract runs out. AT&T sucks, but the iPhone is so much more useful than the blackberry.

    For podcasts: This is super nerdy, but NYU’s Center on Law and Security has great lecture series that you can get.

  36. Grace
    January 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Am I never allowed to love anything?

    • January 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      You are allowed. And Lauren is allowed to flame you. See? The internet is fun again!

  37. January 29, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    No comment on the Apple thing – I think you’ve hit it right on the head.

    If you like science, I recommend the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and/or This Week in Science.
    For yuks, I gotta recommend Keith and the Girl – yeah, I know it sounds bad, but you gotta try it first. Funny, smart (but not for the easily-offended).

  38. nahui
    January 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I think the classist drive behind Apple conspicuous consumption and has worsened beyond measure since the iPod. When it was merely the computer on your desk, or at worse the laptop you carried around sometimes, it wasn’t quite so stark. But when an emminently portable Apple product came out, with a distinctive shape and distinctly colored accessories, well…

    My favoritest podcast is by the awesome French magazine Les Inrockuptibles. Some chanson français, some rock quebecois, lots and lots of euro pop, some pretty progressive hip hop, and JD le DJ talking about the english group “‘Ot Sheep”. (:

    My FRT:
    1)LCD Soundsystem – Yeah (crass)/Beat Connection
    2)Pavement – So Stark (You’re a Skyscraper)
    3)Kobra Killer and Kapajkos – Mund Auf Augen Zu (Sine Voces)
    4)M83 – Cyborg
    5)Gossip – Holy Water
    6)Kid Dakota – Homesteader
    7)Guided by Voices – Fair Touching
    8)Sinsemilia – Tout le bonheur du monde
    9)Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Bear Hug
    10)Xmal Deutschland – Hand in Hand

  39. karak
    January 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I once told my boyfriend the following about the Mac/PC commercials: “Notice the Mac is a young male hipster? And the PC is in a business suit and doesn’t really care about looking cool? Yeah, THAT’S why PCs are the dominant form of computers in the world.”

  40. Alara Rogers
    January 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    And yet I’ve always wanted to see a parody commercial in which PC tries to get Mac to game with him, and is all enthused over the latest games, and Mac is all like, whatever, dude, I’m too cool to do such childish things as play *video games*. And PC calls him on the fact that no one makes games for the Mac, and Mac protests that he plays some games, and it turns out they’re all card games.

  41. Anonymous
    January 29, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    “Agreed that there’s a Mac cult and that some of it is elitism, but some of it also is superior performance, at least when it comes to computers and the iPhone.”

    The problem is, this is only sort-of true. What’s really true is that Apple doesn’t sell bad products in these fields, while many of their competitors do. But they aren’t the only purveyor of good products in those fields, and they aren’t usually the ones who do it at the most economical price. For instance, you mention screen quality — Dell and HP make screens of the same quality assembled from the exact same supplier materials and manufactured at literally the same factory with extremely similar design flourishes at a slightly lower price point than Apple, but both those companies also make really crappy ones at a much lower price-point, which really poisons the well.

    It’s hard to expect people to know the difference, so the ultimate perception is that Apple makes better products (they don’t, or at least, they do so about as often as their competitors), and that they are much more expensive (they are rarely all that much more expensive than a truly equivalent model from a competitor unless you’re talking about a colour-scheme difference where they get ridiculous). On the flip side, the expensive stuff is rarely worth it if you really knew the difference between parts. And every once in a while there exists something that’s expensive and crap, and the relative prices of components get complicated so you can’t just assume that more $$$ = better and buy on that thought. Even professionals have real trouble with that, while at the same time appreciating a large breadth of choice. I imagine it’s the same for a lot of expensive purchases that I’m not so well-versed in — cars, TVs, etc..

    Disclaimer: I own and like my iPhone, and I think it was the best choice for me at the time with my financial situation. And I prefer Windows to OSX, but I did spend the last couple years of my life writing Windows (7, that is), so I’m not unbiased on that front.

  42. That Girl
    January 29, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    1. Nick Cave – Let the Bells Ring
    2. The Judds – Mama He’s Crazy
    3. Amampondo – State Of Emergency
    4. Tenacious D – Friendship
    5. Kurt Elling – Where I Belong
    6. Fred Barton – You’re The Woman I’d Want to Be
    7. Danielson – Runnin’ To Brother
    8. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, Op. 71 – Scene: Clara & The Nutcracker
    9. India Arie – Promise
    10. Big Boi – Bamboo

  43. Cactus Wren
    January 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I own an Ipod because I got tired of losing CDs in my car. But Apple products in general, and Macs in particular, always make me think of Spider Robinson’s narrator attaching some deep profound mystical significance to the “fact” that with a PC you “press Enter” to execute a command, or even “hit Enter” (“press” is a word of force and compulsion, he points out; to “hit” something is to strike it violently, and “enter” of course is a word for sexual penetration), where with a Mac you — I can almost hear the crooning note in these words — “touch Return”.

    1. “Lights Out: Main Title” (Jonathan Boakes)
    2. “The Northern Lass’s Lamentation” (Baltimore Consort)
    3. “Times Right Now” (Radio Free Earth)
    4. “You” (Roy Zimmerman)
    5. “Prayer of St. Gregory” (Hovhaness)
    6. “Apocalypse/Survivor’s Song” (Julia Ecklar)
    7. “The Oyster Catcher and the Actress” (Baltimore Consort)
    8. “Kennedy Jig” (Boiled in Lead)
    9. “Small Gods” (Dave Greenslade)
    10. “Soldiers Three” (The Whisk(e)y Bards)

  44. Amanda
    January 30, 2010 at 2:04 am

    I use Windows-based systems at work (in an IT Department) and I use a mixture of both at home (laptop is Windows, desktop computers are Macintosh). We bought desktop iMacs because — gasp! — we like them. I wouldn’t compile code on them, but they display prettily, my music goes on there and I like the programs.

    Does everything have to be a grandiose political/socio-economic statement about “privilege”? It’s not like I went to the Apple Store and said, “Wow! What a spiffy, white, upper-class day! Is that the APPLE STORE I see through my sheen of self-hatred?”

    The commercials annoy me, too, but lumping everyone who chooses something you don’t like* into the same little box marked “white privilege”? That’s as spiteful and small-minded as what you’re allegedly railing against.

    *Oh, wait, you have an iPod. Did writing this little hand-wringing diatribe help alleviate any of your “white guilt”?

  45. January 30, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Amanda- exactly. BFD, as far as I’m concerned. This is not like “healthy food is expensive and poor people can’t afford it,” which is really, really valid, and needs to be addressed on a more wide-scale level. That would be like saying that Apple really does make superior products, and that they are needed by everyone, and that they are not accessible enough to people who are less economically advantaged, but still have an equal need for the products. And you can’t say that, because it simply isn’t true. So this argument should really be only about the annoyance the author has with hipsters who pat themselves on the back about their lifestyle choices and how that’s always annoying. Not about how Apple is actually damaging in any relevant way.

  46. P.T. Smith
    January 30, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Hipsters ruin everything!

    And the BMW comparison made above doesn’t really hold. For it to work, a Ford Taurus would have to randomly drive itself off the road every fifth time you used it. It would also reguarly pout and refuse to start.

  47. January 30, 2010 at 9:04 am

    “Does everything have to be a grandiose political/socio-economic statement about “privilege”? It’s not like I went to the Apple Store and said, “Wow! What a spiffy, white, upper-class day! Is that the APPLE STORE I see through my sheen of self-hatred?”

    Privilege does not necessarily manifest itself as an awareness of that privilege. In fact, privilege is often the very real unawareness that one has privilege over other people. Whether you bought your Apple as a statement of privilege, coolness, hipness, the fact remains that by purchasing an Apple you obviously have privilege.

    I’m writing this on my very used mac that was given to me by a much more privileged friend as a christmas gift. I could never afford a mac myself. So, do I have privilege by proxy of having privileged friends who can not only afford to purchase macs but give them away when they are done with them? I’d have to say yes. I’d have to say that while I’m poor as proverbial dirt, having friends who aren’t poor as dirt and who do very much engage in urban hipster culture gives me a certain weird privilege by association. Much in the same way that women gain access to increased status by marrying men….

  48. Amy
    January 30, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Bill Moyers’ Journal
    C-span afterwords (in-depth interviews with authors of recent nonfiction books)
    To the contrary (all-female news commentary and analysis – sometimes veers a little too close to a crossfire-type format for my taste, but it’s often interesting)
    This American life
    itunes u – lectures and courses from many universities, all kinds of subjects (see also for a less overwhelming but also very good selection)
    The public library also has a lot of free digital audio downloads, including whole books.
    Somebody else mentioned Ideas from CBC – they recently did a really interesting series on science and society that i’ve been listening to.

    Have fun!

  49. Amy
    January 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

    And one more: (commentary on popular culture)

  50. exholt
    January 30, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I once told my boyfriend the following about the Mac/PC commercials: “Notice the Mac is a young male hipster? And the PC is in a business suit and doesn’t really care about looking cool? Yeah, THAT’S why PCs are the dominant form of computers in the world.”

    I’m not so sure it is really about the PC in a business suit not caring about looking cool so much as the fact that the PC has traditionally been associated with large corporate businesses and the stuffy MBA/CEO types in suits.

    In fact, one main reason why the IBM compatible/PC became so dominant in the computer marketplace from 1981 onward is the fact IBM first came out with it, corporate leaders saw the IBM brand name, and bought into it because “no one ever got fired for buying an IBM” and “IBM == business”. People working in those corporations wanted the same computer they used at work and voila…PC/Dos/Windows became dominant. On the other hand, Mac was seen as a little more than an expensive toy for overly artistic and impractically idealistic hippies.

    While Apple has gained much more gravitas recently due to the PC manufacturers cutting too many corners from 2000-1 onward, the IBM/PC == serious business vs Mac == artsy/hipster/hippie notion still has some hold even after around 30 years. Ironic when Apple learned from their prior mistakes by creating Mac OSX. It is actually built on a variant of BSD unix…..a mature operating system originally used and still used by the most hardcore computer programming technophiles with security designed into the operating system from the very beginning……not tacked on as an afterthought a la MS-Dos/Windows because they overemphasized “ease of use” at the complete expense of security.

  51. January 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm


    Privilege is intertwined with everything. This even comes up in the knitting community, with some of the most popular yarns being ones you have to order from outside of the US and the popular sock yarns running $20 a ball.

    The fact that I can can splurge every now and then on hand dyed sock yarn is a function of privilege, just as being okay with spending more on certain Apple products is.

  52. January 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    You know we talk about “owning” privilege, for example, but how does that usually translate into the world outside of commenting sections on blogs? Does it translate at all? For most people? I’m not fucking around when I ask these questions. I largely see “privilege” as a rhetorical device, nowadays: “I have a MacBook, I am privileged, this is unfair, OK, I’ve acknowledged the fact, what to do? Toss it out the window? But wait, it has all my pictures on it… And could land on someone’s head, whereby denying them the privilege of drawing breath. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll self-flagellate about it, and then go have coffee.”

    One of these days, I will write a comedy in three acts about Americans & privilege. Just remind me to do it, ya’ll.

    As for Apple itself – I like pretty things, so am drawn to their products, though I can’t always afford them. Also, I’ve had good luck with Macs so far (*knock on wood*) and terrible luck with PC’s. I actually have a ridiculous theory that it has something to do with my body chemistry. PC’s just die untimely deaths on me. Like pregnant women on the Island.

    I mean, after the fourth time it happens, one really does have to wonder.

  53. January 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Amanda, see in the original post where I termed this post a “flame”? It is.

  54. January 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    And that’s what I find ironic about Apple products, in that they stole a design aesthetic that was meant to be accessible for all (see also: Target) but made it so expensive that only certain economic classes could afford it.

    Also see also the Arts and Crafts aesthetic.

    I’ve used Macs at work for 20 years now. Last year I picked up a little underpowered Toshiba netbook running XP. It’s pretty sweet.

  55. January 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    “You know we talk about “owning” privilege, for example, but how does that usually translate into the world outside of commenting sections on blogs? Does it translate at all?”

    Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I own my privilege IRL when it’s reasonable to do so. (What privilege I do have, which as a bisexual, feminist, pagan, mostly vegan, low-income single mother is somewhat questionable. I am white; I am thin; I am at least relatively traditionally attractive; I am able-bodied; I do not have a degree, but I have enough college credits that I could have completed a degree by now.)

    I especially own my privilege while drunk. Oh yes. Especially while drunk. Typically by loudly declaring how fucked up the entire social structure is…

    How does this translate in other ways? Well, by doing what I reasonably can to help those who don’t have whatever privilege I do have improve their lives. At the very least, it translates into doing what I can to make sure that I don’t have my boot on someone else’s neck.

  56. January 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    At the very least, it translates into doing what I can to make sure that I don’t have my boot on someone else’s neck.

    This would be the part where my Developing World Rage would kick in – and by Developing World Rage I mean the idea that we most of us have our boots on someone else’s necks, simply by virtue of birth – but I’ve become all enlightened lately, so there will be none of that.

    But it’s kind of like – you talking about a fucked-up social structure doesn’t change the fact that I can’t afford to fix a broken tooth, because my life sucks like that. And me talking about a fucked-up social structure won’t change the fact that I went to an expensive institution of higher learning which affords a butt-load privileges, while you don’t have a degree and hence don’t get access to that. You know what I mean?

    Maybe it’s just a personal thing, but it’s like, when we talk about “owning privilege,” for me it mostly means that I am not going to condescend to other people, because everyone’s got their shit to deal with, and so do I. But I just don’t see the point of going “oh yes, I own [insert whatever commodity that has been imbued with its own weird meaning as of late], I am privileged, I own my privilege.”

    Like, it feels insulting when people do it to me, you know? “Oh yes, Natalia, well, I wasn’t born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I have that privilege.” It’s like, great, it’s just self-flagellation followed by pleasure at one’s own attempt at… what, exactly? False humility? What does it accomplish? And what should I say in return? “Oh, thank you, Great One, truly, you wield the power of being born in Western Civilization wisely.” It honestly feels much better when people are actually straight with each other on these issues, instead of doing this weird rhetorical dance of listing ways in which they own, and ways in which they don’t own privilege. It feels inorganic when we wonder “am I oppressing you? Are you oppressing me? Who benefits more from our collected inequalities?”

    This isn’t to say that I deny the fact that Macs, for example, are very much a status symbol. I just see apologizing for the status symbol to be, well, a waste of time and a privilege in and of itself. And it feels weird and insincere to me, when people hold these conversations wherein we try to justify why we bought that Mac, and other people tells us that the justifications are crap (or not, depending).

    If nothing I have just written makes sense, I apologize. I’m trying to get at something I’ve been thinking about for months now, in regards to the very way in which the word “privilege” is used these days, and I don’t even know if I’m close.

  57. January 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    “But it’s kind of like – you talking about a fucked-up social structure doesn’t change the fact that I can’t afford to fix a broken tooth, because my life sucks like that”

    I can’t afford to fix my broken teeth either. But I sure as hell don’t get offended when people who can fix their teeth speak up and try to do something about the fact that I can’t fix my broken teeth. I get offended when they -don’t- speak up about it and don’t try to do anything at all about it.

    “It’s like, great, it’s just self-flagellation followed by pleasure at one’s own attempt at… what, exactly? False humility? What does it accomplish?”

    To be completely blunt, I think you’re very confused about what it means to own your privilege. It isn’t self-flagellation to admit your privilege. I don’t even know if I would call it humble, false or otherwise. It’s simply acknowledging that you do have certain privileges that other people do not have and, at the very least, doing your best to not exploit others. At best, doing what you can with your privilege to help others. Like by donating your time or money to charity, for instance. Or calling out some jackass for his ableism. Or maybe by giving away that old used mac that you aren’t using anymore like my friend did for me.

  58. January 30, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Faith, I believe that the concept of “privilege” ends up meaning different things to different people, and I am not confused at all, or offended, just frustrated with what I see to be bad rhetoric and useless, counter-productive concepts (“power” is much more honest than “privilege,” imho). I also think that “owning privilege” especially when it comes to things like Macs, has little to do with “speaking up” or, for that matter, “doing.”

    But you and I have radically different perspectives to begin with, o privileged Western-born person, you. ;)

  59. Ben
    January 31, 2010 at 10:39 am

    To all those considering buying an iPhone, the great disadvantage, besides AT&T, is that it lacks a physical keyboard. This is bad news if you text a lot or want to send e-mails from your phone. When my iPhone contract is up, I may investigate the droid or something similar.

  60. January 31, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Two things: Sharon Jones had a cameo on SNL last night, and Justin Long now appears to be engaged to Drew Barrymore. One makes me very happy, one makes me wish I could induce curses on celebrities.

  61. Alara Rogers
    January 31, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I think it is, in fact, actually important to point out to leftist hipsters that their preferences for Mac may be in part manufactured by advertising, and have a classist element to them, precisely because leftist hipsters a. are on the lookout for that kind of thing, especially in the larger mainstream culture, but may have blind spots where it intersects their own preferences and their own subculture b. are much more vulnerable to this particular advertising gimmick than other subcultures are.

    It’s not to say you can’t like Mac, or can’t genuinely feel Apple makes better products, or enjoy the Macintosh aesthetic… but a lot of the same people who are very adept at spotting it when *other* people’s preferences are being manufactured by advertising will tell you quite unironically that Mac is better because Microsoft is evil, or because only corporate drones use PCs, or some other value judgement that smells suspiciously of a cultural blind spot.

    I will freely own that *I* have the privilege of a father who worked for IBM, and so, despite being a forty-year-old woman who came of age before the Internet was publically available and before geek chic was in, I enjoy the customizability of PCs because I grew up with PCs and the concept of building and rebuilding your own machine with parts you bought or scrounged from other machines. Owning a PC that I know how to take apart and rebuild myself, with after-market parts such as a larger hard drive and better DVD writer than came with it, is a cultural value for *me*, a marker that yes, I am a geek; yes, despite being a woman I know enough about computers to build one from scratch if I felt like it; no, I am not a dumb sucker who will spend too much money on a machine I don’t understand because it claims to be maintenance-free. (And this despite the fact that intellectually, I absolutely know that my understanding of PCs is in part a privilege of my upbringing, and not understanding PCs does not in any way *actually* make other people stupid… but emotionally, it’s hard to escape one’s own deep programming.)

    So for me *not* owning a Mac is as much a cultural marker, a status symbol if you will, a reflection of what I consider important, as owning a Mac is for other people. (And I respect the people who own a Linux or BSD machine, but they’re much more hardcore than me. Unix flavors became available for home machines after I already had kids and no longer had time to play around with serious geekery; I know Unix well enough to list files and run programs from the command line, but aside from my firewall I don’t own any Linux or BSD machines.)

    It’s important, I think, for people to recognize these kinds of things about where their own preferences come from, because it *is* very easy to be unconsciously judgemental. If you genuinely believe Mac is a better and more beautiful machine that expresses personal aesthetics better, you may unconsciously look down on PC owners (or consciously do so, in some cases); if you understand that part of that preference is manufactured by advertising, you have better grounds to keep from judging other people by their preferences, even if it doesn’t in any way affect your preference to know where it may have come from. You can still love Mac if you know that you may have been influenced by advertising or unconscious classism, but you’re less likely to look down (even subconsciously) on others who don’t love Mac.

  62. exholt
    January 31, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    It’s not to say you can’t like Mac, or can’t genuinely feel Apple makes better products, or enjoy the Macintosh aesthetic… but a lot of the same people who are very adept at spotting it when *other* people’s preferences are being manufactured by advertising will tell you quite unironically that Mac is better because Microsoft is evil, or because only corporate drones use PCs, or some other value judgement that smells suspiciously of a cultural blind spot.

    That advertising wasn’t devised by Apple’s marketing department. Instead, they took the preexisting memes that were ironically started by the very “corporate drones” (CEO/MBA/some engineers) set back in 1981. Remember, it was the business/corporate types who spread the notion that Apple computers were expensive toys for the artistic overidealistic impractical hippie set. This notion plus the common notion that IBM == business and “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” was what got IBM PCs along with MS-Dos/Windows on their road to marketplace domination in the ’80s and ’90s.

    In short, the business world’s rejection of Apple in the 1980s and most of the ’90s was just as much a rejection of the artsy hippie idealistic values from the 1960’s in favor of corporate greed a la Gordon Gekko as it was a rejection of Apple’s expensive proprietary technology. Apple’s marketing department just seized on this meme and tossed it back at the very originators of it.

    Not to say I really believe their marketing hype….but I do admire how they’ve been able to use a meme originally intended to deride them and their users to their optimal advantage over the last 30 years.

    So for me *not* owning a Mac is as much a cultural marker, a status symbol if you will, a reflection of what I consider important, as owning a Mac is for other people. (And I respect the people who own a Linux or BSD machine, but they’re much more hardcore than me. Unix flavors became available for home machines after I already had kids and no longer had time to play around with serious geekery; I know Unix well enough to list files and run programs from the command line, but aside from my firewall I don’t own any Linux or BSD machines.)

    Though there is a class dimension to Apple fandom, especially in this decade, there has also been a class dimension in computer ownership/geekdom until the very late 1990s when desktop and laptop PCs started to become affordable to more than the middle/upper-class. It was only in the extreme late 1990s and early 2000s that PCs became cheap enough for their ownership base to expand beyond the middle/upper-class. Not too long after this, most PC manufacturers started to cut serious corners to maintain/increase profitability in the face of pricing wars and rapidly changing technological requirements. A reason why I started seeing many desktop and laptop PCs…even the mid-end models failing within a matter of months…or even weeks.

    Moreover, as you’ve admitted, you are part of another privileged group of computer technophiles…of which I am also an admitted part. The same group whose members have more than its fair share of disdain and snobbery against those who are not proficient enough to troubleshoot/fix their own PCs.

    In short, you’ve merely signaled a preference for joining another privileged and I’d argue just as smug and elitist a group from my own experiences with many of its members.

    Disclosure: I’ve own/use Macs and PCs with various versions of dos, windows, and linux for around 2 decades.

  63. February 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    “Mac is the computer of choice for artsy types who never want to get their hands dirty fixing or customizing their own machines. ”

    What bastards they are. Man, I hate people who won’t build their own computers.

    So, let me get this straight… Apple users (a minority in the tech world-the most popular Apple product is intereactive with PCs) are idiot hipsters who just want show off how unique they are and show off their wealth and status… and the majority (PC users) are somehow the put upon underdogs?


  64. Roxie
    February 2, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Y’all know that you like Macs & Apple and everything and they can still serve as a class marker, right? Also, owning & liking them doesn’t make you out to be some horrible classist/cultural person either. It just kind of is what it is.

    I mean, really think back to when the iPod first came out? While innovative, they were so very expensive. Those white earbuds definitely became a marker of how “cool” you were and what you could or couldn’t afford. Does that mean the iPod was not a good product for them money or didn’t suit needs/desires? Absolutely not! But when you saw those earbuds, you still knew that person had a way to purchase that and you, my earbudless sister, did not.

  65. February 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Regarding owning privilege –

    Oftentimes, I find myself saying things like:
    “We’re very lucky that…
    “We’re very fortunate to be able to…
    Or, in slightly different company (we live in SW Virginia):
    “We feel very blessed that…

    To me, owning privilege is simply (a) acknowledging the things you have that other people don’t, and (b) acknowledging how much of that is due to an accident of birth or dumb luck rather than some sort of personal virtue.

    It’s amazing to me how many people get (a) and how few people get (b).

    Actually doing something about the disparities between people is not so much about owning privilege as it is about the kind of human being you are, though obviously, some people have the power to act more easily and with less inconvenience to themselves than others do, and that is often an issue of privilege.

  66. Lee
    February 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    @Dave. I agree. There’s nothing more annoying than a rich kid who feels like he earned all the nice things he has.

Comments are closed.