Moving into my mid-twenties and now approaching, sort of, my late twenties (I’m turning 27 this month) I have had these twinges of anxiety, low self-confidence and discomfort upon entering public places with free wifi and pulling out of my backpack a Dell or HP laptop computer. The feeling is as if (this is sort of an embarrassing revelation but I think a good number of people will actually agree) I am in some sort of absurd contest measuring penis size and it has been found that I am one of the smallest, and then I am forced to sit in a public place with these people whose masculinity is undeniably more significant than mine for two to four hours, acting as if I don’t feel, at some basic level, ashamed of who I am.
Yes, it is that bad for PC users. Maybe. But this has not always been the case – at least not for me. I grew up completely on PCs and was educated, basically, to believe that Apples were totally shitty, confusing, and simply didn’t have the functionality of PCs. I remember at certain points in grade school, my classroom would for some bizarre reason have an Apple instead of a PC and the Apple in turn seemed completely ignored, dingy and unusable to the classroom; it felt like a ‘ghetto’ piece of technology planted there for our educational use but so irrelevant that it could have been nothing but an institutional blunder. An unsavvy initiative.
This remained so for me through high school and even through college, despite the fact that the normal adolescent and youth-oriented concept of ‘being cool’ began to play a major part in building a private idea of myself (i.e. ‘figuring out who I was’) and building a persona that would enable me to get the things I wanted from others. If anything – with regards to the technology I carried around – I sincerely believed that having the smallest pieces of technology was the coolest thing that I could do. For example I remember I had this mp3 player that I thought was really, really cool; that I really thought made me cool for having. It was a literal cube, maybe one square inch, and had a nice little LED display. I treated my laptops the same way – I always bought the smallest one possible, and they were always Dells.
Whether or not this personal history reflects a large majority’s personal history, owning a Dell and being culturally advanced/ cool today is, in any capacity, kind of like being sincerely into fashion but buying all your clothes at Walmart (for example). I think in fact that owning anything but a laptop made by Apple has almost reached the point of unseemliness or shameful behavior. I think that one would be dishonest to deny the fact that there is actually, now, this element of cultural capital that goes into making the decision to purchase a Mac as well as brandishing one to the coffee shop at large. That now – aside from function – people our age are actually buying Macs as displays of status. And I think one would also be dishonest to refuse to admit that having a PC is simply not as ‘cool’ as having a Mac. Why?
Because PC’s are cheaper and less aesthetically pleasing, basically. There’s also the fact that to work on a PC today means to be susceptible to viruses. It means to have your computer freeze all the time. It means to have, basically, a piece of machinery that will within two to three years most likely break down and demand replacement. Factory bought PCs, in my experience, have shitty CPU speeds, come with like 40 add-on programs that are basically CPU-sucking advertisements, and when pushed to their limits, have loud fans that turn on and make an embarrassing level of noise in an otherwise ‘chill’ coffee shop. PCs speak to the user in a very literal, language-based… language, and rarely utilize savvy-seeming animations or physical movement to communicate or as commands. The PC is for the brute. It’s layout is all hard-edged squares that often get caught mid-maximize, forcing a restart and eating up all sorts of CPU. And PCs today are much, much cheaper than Macs, and thus lack the status that money/privilege has always been able to buy (and it still, definitely can; see my Walmart metaphor).
Macs on the other hand are fucking expensive. They can now operate without fans entirely and do not alert the entire coffee shop with their huffing and puffing that their user is having some major CPU issues. Macs start up within seconds with ease. They have these little cute, efficient animations for every click, and they put to use a much more intuitive, language-free… language (sorry?) that communicates with more than just its users capacity to converse in English. They don’t freeze, they don’t get viruses, and there’s hardly a forced reboot. Their normal operation is somehow treated as more intricate and reserved for the more savvy. Macs are for the creative, the young, and those who are able to balance themselves on the edge of consumer culture.
And so it seems cooler (please note my use of the word “seems” before spouting an irate, multi-paragraph, butthurt comment defending PCs) to own a Mac than a PC because having a PC has become a symbol of cheapness of character, of an embarrassing lack of creativity, shitty judgment, and most importantly, of low cultural status. Having a Mac has become a symbol of money, creativity, and of what it means to be culturally advanced. Being culturally advanced is what it means to be cool. PCs are ripoffs which fool only the unsavvy masses while Macs are clean, efficient pieces of machinery that last longer and are aesthetically more pleasing for the relatively privileged, educated, and by consequence more attractive. And that’s basically the whole of the argument.
Which team do you want to be on?