I was thinking about the similarities between the groupthink in the political sphere and its equivalent in the consumer technology sphere, and it dawned to me that I could more easily explain the political conundrum if I illustrate the problems in the technological equivalent, which might be less emotionally charged, at least for some parts of the audience.
So, let’s see the stereotypes.
1. An iPhone user is a stupid sheep who blindly follows trends and will pay more money for an inferior product.
2. Android is for people who want to customize their device.
3. Android is for poor people who can’t afford an iPhone.
4. A Mac user is a stupid sheep who will buy the overpriced shiny toy because he’s so stupid even Windows are too complicated for him.
5. Windows machines are virus-ridden, unstable, blue-screen-of-death displaying boring gray box.
6. Mac is for creative people, Windows are for accountants.
7. Windows are for poor people who can’t afford a Mac.
8. Linux is for poor people who can’t afford Windows.
Need I go on?
Now, let’s go through the list.
1 and 2: There are many reasons why one might want an iPhone. One is because he really is too stupid to understand that there are alternatives. Another is because he’s too busy doing whatever is his day-job to fiddle with a device, and just wants something that works reliably. His day-job might be “astrophysicist” or “doctor”. He doesn’t have either will or time to fiddle with a phone or to install an alternative kernel. He just wants speed, reliability, good build quality and, occasionally, he wants to run very specialized apps that are available for it. Someone who will “customize” his phone is more likely than not to live in his mom’s basement, because that’s the profile that’s likely to waste time on non-productive shit like that. If you have things to do, you use the phone to make calls, to google something or to find your way around on a map. You’re too busy operating on people’s brains, designing a new rocket engine, analyzing data from the Kepler telescope or getting that call informing you how that million-dollar deal went through. If your phone is all you have to deal with in your life, you’re either a phone designer, or someone who has too much spare time on his hands.
3: Yes, in many cases people who opt for Android phones find iPhones to be too expensive. That might be because they are poor. On the other hand, they might just want to buy something good but affordable and not too fragile for their kids. Or, they might decide that the iPhone just isn’t worth the premium; it does basically the same thing as a much cheaper Android phone, so why would you overpay for the same functionality? Essentially, you may have several good options and once you’re satisfied with the fact that any of them will do a good job, you pick one based on both preference and estimate of cost-effectiveness.
4: Yes, there are people who buy a Mac because they find Windows too complicated (although, it is difficult for me to figure out how that is possible, since both systems are more-less equally trivial to master). On the other hand, there are people who will buy a Mac because Apple’s laptops have great battery life, great screen, excellent touchpad, or because they can run open source tools via macports or homebrew, allowing them to have access to the same toolkit they would have on Linux, but with better reliability, better battery life, less bugs, and with the ability to run Adobe apps. Those are excellent reasons, and it’s easy to understand why one would get a laptop from Apple, and in fact it might explain why Apple laptops are outselling everything on the market, and why they are especially popular with technology and science professionals, who certainly aren’t using them because they find Windows intimidatingly difficult. I, for instance, migrated to a Macbook Air from a Thinkpad running Linux five years ago, simply because it was thin, light, had a great battery, had an SSD, and one of the best displays on any laptop. Also, it ran Unix natively and I was so at home with Linux command-line tools I would have great difficulties re-organizing the things I do in a way that was doable on Windows. So, the options for me weren’t Windows or OS X, but OS X or Linux, and I couldn’t run Lightroom on Linux.
5: Windows machines exist in a wide range of price, capability and performance. Yes, there are the basic Windows boxes, both laptops and desktops, that are indeed quite cringe-worthy. Then again, I’m writing this on a i7-6700K PC, with very high-end components, and it’s incredibly fast, it’s as reliable as a toaster, and my monitor has the same LG-Philips matrix as a 27” iMac, only with matte coating, so I get no reflections from the window beside me. Essentially, it’s the performance equivalent of a 6-core Mac Pro, with a better graphics card, better cooling, and at half the price. Basically, it’s as far from being a bland beige box as you can imagine. In most things, it’s equivalent to an OS X machine, except for the fact that I have to run a virtualized Linux machine in order to get the Unix functionality that I need. That’s less annoying on a desktop than it would be on a laptop, but essentially, the reliability, ease of use, performance etc. are so similar between the two I don’t really care which one I use. I do have a mail archive manager that works only on the Mac, and that does determine my preference in part, because although I did write a proof-of-concept portable alternative in Java, I would hate to write and maintain something that already exists and works great, and I wouldn’t get paid for the work. I have better uses for my time, honestly. As for the viruses, I have a simple rule that had served me well so far: don’t click on stupid shit. As a result, I don’t get viruses. The last time I got a virus I was running Windows 98 or something, and it happened because I mistakenly clicked on something. I do use an antivirus, as a precaution, but honestly, if you’re having problems with viruses, you’re more likely having problems with porn sites and stupidity.
6: As for Mac being for creative people, I used Windows 3.1 for desktop publishing with Ventura Publisher software in the late 1980s, I use a Windows machine for photo editing and writing books, I even used Linux machines for photo editing and writing books. I can basically make anything work for me, and if I’m not counted as a creative person, nobody will meet the requirements. This thing about Macs and creative work is basically propaganda. Windows machines are used by some 95% of all computer users, which basically means they are used by both the most creative people and by most accountants. It’s just that creative people tend to configure their machines differently, that’s all. A programmer will have different requirements than a photographer or a graphics designer.
7: Try configuring a dual-Xeon 24-core, 128GB PC workstation with two Titan X Pascal graphics cards and tell me it’s for poor people who can’t afford a Mac. I personally can afford a Mac laptop because it’s good, and I can’t afford a Mac desktop because it’s worse than my machine and for more money. Essentially, I can’t afford overpriced, underperforming shit of any kind.
8: Since Linux runs basically on all servers everywhere, and since Google uses it on all workstations for their developers, there are obviously good reasons for very rich people to use it in a production environment. If you’re a developer, a good Linux distro might be the best thing to have on your desktop in terms of getting things done efficiently, basically being able to use your desktop as a test-environment for the software you’re developing. Personally, I prefer having the Linux development and testing environment virtualized because Windows makes better use of my hardware, but it’s a matter of preference and I could very easily see myself running Linux on the hardware and doing everything from there if it became more convenient for some reason.
You can see how there are many reasons why someone might have a certain opinion, reasons that differ significantly from the stereotypes. One might use something because he’s too stupid to know better, and another person might use that same thing simply because it works better for his usage case. One person can have a certain political attitude because he’s stupid or evil, while another person can have a very similar position but on a far higher intellectual octave, because he knows much more than you do, has better insight, greater intelligence and, in the end, you might not have any arguments that could disprove his. So tread lightly. The leftists can’t fathom why anyone with IQ over 150 would vote for Trump or have political opinions in the right political spectrum; due to their stereotypical understanding of the opposition they are facing, they are simply unable to either comprehend it, or to argue against it, or do anything constructive about it whatsoever, which leaves them with the option of smearing fake blood on their faces and chanting slogans. This doesn’t differ greatly from the shock some people experience when they get to know an IT expert and a technology enthusiast who uses an iPhone. It’s not that the concept itself is unfathomable, it’s just that they painted themselves into a corner with their closed-minded stereotypes and inability to understand different positions and scenarios.