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5 February, 2007

Mocking Macs

Charlie Brooker rants.  It's just what he does.  Sometimes I think his eloquent mock-outrage undermines his message, but a patient reader/listener often realises he does have a point.  Ranting in the Guardian today, he writes about the new yet ubiquitous 'PC vs. Mac' Mitchell & Webb advertising campaign, and identifies the aspect I least like about Apple products: the users.

Brooker:

I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.
See what I mean about the ranting? However, read a bit further, and there's a slightly more penetrating observation. Mac computers and iPod mp3 players might indeed have technical and usability merits, but that's not what stereotypical Mac users really value.
Cue 10 years of nasal bleating from Mac-likers who profess to like Macs not because they are fashionable, but because "they are just better". Mac owners often sneer that kind of defence back at you when you mock their silly, posturing contraptions, because in doing so, you have inadvertently put your finger on the dark fear haunting their feeble, quivering soul - that in some sense, they are a superficial semi-person assembled from packaging; an infinitely sad, second-rate replicant who doesn't really know what they are doing here, but feels vaguely significant and creative each time they gaze at their sleek designer machine.
Ultimately the campaign's biggest flaw is that it perpetuates the notion that consumers somehow 'define themselves' with the technology they choose. If you truly believe you need to pick a mobile phone that 'says something' about your personality, don't bother. You don't have a personality. A mental illness, maybe - but not a personality.
Exactly. That's the reason I dislike Macs – I recoil from the very idea of being defined by my choice of consumer hardware. I don't remotely care about 'cool'; all that matters, beyond any other potential criterion, is that my beige box, or black box, or any-other-colour-it-doesn't-****ing-matter-you-pretentious-**** box does what I need it to do.

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