If you’ve read my past posts, you’ll know that I’m a former Apple user turned Apple hater. In my opinion Apple is a once decent company that has become nothing more than fodder for tech hipster wannabees who want to signal their social status to other hipsters. I hate Apple’s business model and believe they’re ruining the tech industry.
But hey, on the plus side they give me no shortage of material for rants – rants that will hopefully gain me a large viewership (because people love rants, right?) and eventually allow me to make money from sitting on my ass and blogging all day.
In the past I focused on Apple itself. This time I want to focus on Apple’s user base (which I used to be a part of) and everything I can’t stand about their subculture. A lot has already been said about these insufferable hipsters, but plenty more remains to be said. Here are my five reasons why I think Apple culture is a load of horseshit:
Let me start by observing a well-known truth: Apple users tend to be politically left-leaning. The stereotype is of a scruffy, bearded hipster who drives a Prius and sips vanilla chai lattes, or a young Bohemian artist who considers herself a feminist and a voice for the poor and oppressed. If there’s anything that defines liberal values, it’s an undying hatred for the capitalist system and its elites. Liberals are all about fighting the power and not letting giant corporations take over their lives.
And yet, when you look at most Apple users and the way they actually live, their lifestyle is one of obsessive corporate worship. They claim to be anticapitalist, yet in practice they are the most enthusiastic participants in a system of mindless consumerism, one that convinces them that fulfillment can only come from material wealth and status, and that they have to buy the latest, most expensive gadget so other people will think they’re cool.
These people claim to be against letting corporations control them, yet when it comes to certain corporations, they will invariably bend over and take it, no matter what “it” is. They continue to invest more and more of their hard-earned money into inferior Apple products, because they perceive those products as being chic and fashionable. An iPhone is not really a communication device so much as a fashion accessory. Apple-using hipsters love fashion accessories. Their entire lives revolve around buying flashy gadgets from their favorite brands. Which brings me to the next item.
4. Brand loyalty
Remember how I talked about hipsters letting corporations walk all over them, as long as they’re corporations they like? Nowhere is this more true than with Apple. When you buy an Apple device, you have to pay a premium of hundreds of dollars over non-Apple devices. What are you paying for with this premium? Certainly not extra functionality. I mean, the iPhone does have a slightly better camera, but overall, its specs are about the same as your typical budget Android phone. So what exactly are you paying for then? You’re paying for the Apple logo. That’s it. Nothing else. Slap an Apple logo on a piece of hardware, and you instantly double or triple its perceived value in the eyes of the public.
Apple has caught on to this rabid brand loyalty in its fans. They now have a business model that is predicated entirely on the assumption that people will buy literally anything as long as it comes from Apple. This is why their products have gotten worse and worse over time. It’s not because Steve Jobs died. It’s just a matter of simple marketing pragmatics. When you no longer need to make a superior product to make money, you can withdraw your funding from R&D and focus entirely on sales. Apple is making shitty devices because they can. It’s cheaper than making good devices, and they know Apple customers will eat it up either way. Apple doesn’t have to be good; they don’t have to be innovative; they just have to be Apple.
This of course creates a pattern that infects the rest of the tech world. Apple markets an inferior device with a “minimalist” design – “minimalist” being a euphemism for “completely lobotomized” – it becomes huge due to sheer market inertia, that becomes what people want, and then other businesses start copying Apple’s defective design hoping to capitalize on it. I’ve written more about this phenomenon in my article on chickenshit minimalism, which you can check out here.
3. False counterculturalism
Let me be frank: There’s absolutely nothing counterculture about using Apple products. “Think different.” is a thing of the past. Apple has become the brand of people who don’t think for themselves, who just mindlessly follow the herd and jump on any bandwagon that comes their way. Your textbook Apple user is not a Bohemian free spirit who goes against the grain; they’re a mindless drone who goes with whatever is popular, believes everything they hear on TV, and never questions the status quo. Apple fans are the paragon of the NPC meme.
Using Apple products is about as conformist as you can get. And yet there are some who still believe that using a Macbook makes you some kind of elite hipster. Mac users are not the real hipsters here. PC users are. PC users are the ones who are daring to Think Different, because they don’t give a fuck about being popular and just want something that works.
The persisting belief that Apple is somehow counterculture gives rise to a sense of smug elitism in its users. Just look at Andrew Dobson’s comics about his Mac for example.
This comic really epitomizes the elitism of Apple users. This guy makes a point of making sure everyone who reads his comics knows that he uses a Mac, like anyone in their right mind cares, then goes on a big shpeal about how Macs are like fruit and PCs are like McDonald’s and will give you “problems”. Yeah, sorry, I was a Mac user for most of my life, and I had problems with that thing on almost a daily basis. Now that I have a Thinkpad I don’t have any problems. It’s been seven months since I made the switch and not once have I had anything break or malfunction or had to take my computer in to get it fixed. Switching from Macs to PCs took a whole boatload of stress off me, and made my wallet fatter on top of that.
1. It’s ruining nerd culture.
This is probably the ultimate reason why I can’t stand Apple culture. It has become a cesspool of nerd wannabees coding in Python, Swift, and Node.js, tacking together algorithms that other people wrote and calling it an app. I’m talking about the kind of people who have to download the is_odd package from NPM to see if a number is odd or even, because the modulus operator intimidates them. These people have no desire to learn about computers. They have no desire to understand how their devices work. And yet they are the computer nerds of the modern day.
Being a nerd used to be hard – both in terms of lifestyle and in terms of rigor. I know because I was one, have been one my entire life. When I was a teen back in the 2000s, you had to be smart to be a nerd. And it wasn’t considered something to be proud of either. It was a mark of shame. People didn’t flaunt their nerdhood like they do now; they tried to hide it. People like me didn’t get into science and computer programming because that stuff was hip and trendy; we got into it because we were genuinely passionate about those subjects. We had a burning, overpowering desire to learn everything we could about our area of interest. That is nerdhood in a nutshell. Nerds are not supposed to be popular or chic. They’re supposed to be social outcasts who do nerdy stuff for its own sake.
The definition of “nerd” has been twisted and perverted. Gone are the days when being a nerd was a thankless life of passionate studying and inventing. Now all you need to do to be considered a nerd is download Sublime and start taking some tutorials on Swift, then show your new game that you wrote to all your hipster friends at Starbucks. This is the legacy of Apple culture. Apple hipsters have appropriated the nerd culture, and perverted it into something that it was never meant to be. Hipsters have ruined nerdity, just like they ruin everything else.
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