I recently obtained what may be the biggest threat to my work-life balance since my last visit home. My new Mac. And although I certainly am enjoying it, it’s making me feel much like I did as a boy: lonely, weird and misunderstood. (Friends who are reading this blog can, I’m sure, hardly refrain from adding “and what’s changed since boyhood, Tom?)
But here’s the thing. Once you’re a Mac owner, there is tremendous pressure to declare yourself a “Mac person.” Other Mac owners welcome you to the fold with disproportionate enthusiasm, like they are a couple of seconds away from offering you some Kool-Aid. These people engage in serious discussions about the Mac ads on TV, as if the poor, tubby, outdated PC depicted by the heavyset bespectacled actor is a symbol of some Kafkaesque nightmare world, populated by the millions who’ll be left behind when the Mac God comes back for the computer rapture. And the truth is, I identify more with the PC guy. He’s just an ordinary Joe, trying to do his best. The Mac guy, quite frankly, is a pretentious art fraud who is probably one of the eighteen people who actually buy those CD’s at Starbuck’s. This also gives me pause, because Mac owners seem like people who define themselves through their technology, and treat their Mac like a friend. This points toward being the type of person whose fragile hold on reality could collapse at any minute as soon as you realize that you need a machine to make you feel more significant.
Basically, the true Mac owner could very well be the anti-social, misanthropic loser I’ve been trying not to be since I curled up in my first hopeless fetal position at age six. And the big irony there is that Macs are supposed to “fun,” not so much about work like the PC. But don’t we all really do “work” on our computers? Now I feel like I should be having more fun, breaking away from responding to my 200 e-mails by playing with that program where you can compose your own crappy techno dance song, or creating a podcast about my dog.
Years ago, I had math anxiety. Now, I have Mac anxiety. I doubt I’ll switch back to a PC, though. I may feel like the PC guy in the commercials, but at least I can pretend I’m not.