Monday, April 25, 2011

This reads like a bad blog

The best way I can sum up the thesis of this article is to use an analogy: "Fans of President Obama are more likely to be younger, more liberal, more creative and more likely to live in cities. Or, as some might say, communists."

I think the Mac vs. PC debate, like most feuds over consumer choices, is frivolous. Both systems have their strong points and both have weak points, and it comes down to your personal preference. In my experience, Macs have been better for what I do. Every newspaper I've worked for from high school on up used Macs for story composition and layouts. I've owned two PCs, and both had power, virus and crash issues I haven't had with my current MacBook Pro. On the other hand, my MacBook's trackpad took less than two years to break. The PCs came with graphics programs that were far from professional, yet were miles above anything Mac gave you (which was nothing). And if I worked in programming, graphic design or math-related fields, I'd probably feel more inclined toward PC. Overall, for me, Mac wins the debate. But it's not a shutout. And I wouldn't suggest that my outcome is the correct outcome for everyone else.

In any case, this blog is not about the Mac-PC debate. It's about how the CNN report and poll arrive at what kind of people use Macs and PCs. And the conclusions couldn't be more reductive if Mac made Volvos and granola bars, and Microsoft made Hummers and sirloin steaks.

It's probably true that Macs enjoy a fervent following of educated 20-somethings. After all, more education means you're more likely to have a professional job and (at that age especially) geek out over what computer lines have to offer — whereas most people are good with any decent PC. Including most educated 20-somethings. To use another analogy, I'm sure the recent run of boxy cars (Scion xB, Nissan Cube, Kia Soul) appeals to the same age group, but that doesn't mean most young people drive them. All it means is that those products have a special niche within a demographic. There's nothing groundbreaking about that.

Market research aside, I don't see the point in correlating what people wear, eat and read to what kind of computer they use. Unless it's to reinforce stereotypes. This poll and article both seem tailored toward establishing PC tastes as normal while Mac users enjoy snooty things like San Pellegrino Limonata. (I'd really like to see the poll itself. I have a feeling that it was multiple choice and influenced by talk radio.)

Also, there's a dig at higher education, as if everyone with an advanced degree is a condescending know-it-all. And no one who lacks one ever is.

I bristle at this poll because of who I am, and because of who I'm not. True, I am a liberal, and was on the tail end of 20-something when I got my Mac. I have an advanced degree. I'm creative. I'm urban. I prefer fuel-efficient vehicles. I watch what I eat. But I know many PC partisans who are exactly the same way and, conversely, Mac users who think people like that are stooges of big government. As far as the self-satisfied hipster — the one the article incorrectly credits Justin Long as personifying — well, very few of my friends could be described that way. I'm as out of place among hipsters as I am at a Young Republicans rally. Also, I know hipsters who are young Republicans. See? People are complex.

I don't even know what San Pellegrino Limonata is.

Furthermore, while I can't speak for every Mac user, I bought my Mac because I liked its attributes, not because I wanted everyone to know I had one. In fact, I was so self-conscious about coming off that way that I almost reconsidered. But in the end, I realized that buying a PC for that reason would have been just as pretentious a move as buying a Mac for the status. Instead, I went with what I wanted. Just like people generally do, regardless of what pop culture dictates.

There are far better and more accurate ways of outlining our cultural divide than Mac vs. PC — CNN vs. Fox News, for one. Maybe not.

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