So starting late last night, I’ve seen a bunch of pundits on twitter (a large proportion of the people I follow on twitter are political pundits) complaining that Marco Arment, a pretty well-known tech blogger and innovator (tumblr, instapaper) (and whose name, frankly, meant absolutely nothing to me) disparaged some poor mall-rats who work at the Microsoft Store.
Here’s the post. Go ahead and read it so you can follow along.
It’s a little snarky, yeah? I’ve read it twice now. I took most of the snark as mocking the sales scripts and protocols that the employees are required to follow. You know how in some stores, before you can look at two racks of clothes, five employees have approached you and brightly asked you if you need any help finding anything and hello! how are you today! and all that kind of thing. I prefer my sales staff to be unobtrusive, and to materialize basically when I start standing around looking like I’m looking for some help, but I recognize that’s just me and I try not to get cranky with the teenagers who are just following what they’re supposed to be doing. I’m not always successful, but I do try. And I would hope that people would understand that when I criticize that, I am criticizing the protocol, not the kid.
But so I went back and read this post again, to make sure there wasn’t some awful disparagement that I’d missed. The worst part I guess was where he asked the kid whether he had applied at the MS store before or after he’d applied at the Apple store, as in naturally it would be anyone’s second choice. Is that really that disparaging? I guess it kinda is. On the other hand, apparently the MS store was nearly empty, and when’s the last time you went to an empty Apple store? (and while I am looking at a desk full of Apple products, the only one that I bought retail is my phone, which I bought at a phone store, not an Apple store: I loathe retail shopping basically across the board and order most of my tech the way I order most of my everything: online. I am what is wrong with our disintegrating economy, I admit it.)
I don’t know. The thing about being an Apple user is that there are a lot of people out there who think you are an asshole based simply on the fact that you are using an Apple product. Or that you must be a worsphipper at the altar of Jobs. Or that you delight in the ostensibly poor conditions at Foxconn, where some will try to convince you that children are paid pennies in dark dirty sweatshops to put together your expensive lifestyle accessories, before they commit suicide in despair. (Please note that that wikipedia article states that the peak suicide rate at Foxconn was lower than the general Chinese suicide rate, and also lower than the suicide rate in each of the 50 US states.)
The Foxconn argument of Apple assholedom falls apart pretty quickly, given that Foxconn also manufactures a whole whack of other, less controversial, non-Apple devices.
I use a Wintel box five days a week, and have done so for my entire working life, basically. I also use Apple stuff at home because I like it. I LIKE IT. And once you have one item, buying others that integrate easily is an easy thing to do. So yeah I’m an elitist Jobs-worshipper, with a 4 year old laptop, 1-year old iPad 2, and an iPhone 4S (that replaced a 2 and a half year old iPhone 3S because I wanted the front-facing camera and I was able to do it at a low cost). I also have a 4 or 5 year old iPod that I won’t replace until it dies. I don’t have any immediate plans for new toys, no mini i-Pad, no iPhone 5, and I upgraded my RAM so I hope the lappie will do me for another couple of years.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read a blog post or article about a new Apple product? it usually takes 5 comments or fewer for someone to come in and spew about Apple fanbois and how awful and deluded and brainwashed and so on they are, and how the products are shit and the people who buy them, worse than that. Stupid dilettantes with more money than brains, generally speaking. Who, if they were actually smart (like the commenter believes him/herself to be, naturally) would be running a self-built frankenstein box using either Win or very likely linux. Because that’s the only smart way to do anything on a personal computer.
I used to have a little ASUS Eee PC, which was really cute and neat and I was thinking about hackintoshing it but I never did. I did have Ubuntu on it, and eventually was battered by the seemingly endless updates each time I ventured to turn it on, and the amount of tweaking necessary to keep various features running, into wiping it and donating it to a charity in Africa, where I hope it helps some people who are needier than I.
Anyway I guess it’s a kind of “this may be a little bad; but it’s really nothing in comparison to the attitude Apple users get every time they turn around” which is not normally the kind of argument I make; I know it’s lame. But I don’t think this Arment guy deserves all the people telling him he’s really an awful person for making an offhand poke at a kid (not identified by name or anything) who works in a Microsoft store. I mean, do all these people standing up for the rights of MS mall-rats also stand up whenever anyone makes a disparaging remark about an Apple store “genius”? Or has nobody ever used that term disparagingly?
The other thing that I hate is how tech becomes polarized almost the way politics are. I suppose Apple itself contributed to that, with the Mac vs PC ads, but I always took those as pretty gentle pokes. Because having faced the BSOD on my Win boxes as much as (or really, a lot more often than) I’ve had any kind of kernel panic or misery on my Macs, I can relate to both sides. And maybe I’m sheltered, but I’ve never seen an Apple user jump on someone for not being an Apple user, while I’ve been verbally assaulted in extremely insulting ways for using a Mac. As though that’s going to make me stop!
It’s as stupid as hating someone for listening to a music style you don’t like. Taste is subjective. That means everybody is right. And while that means, hey, Marco, stop teasing that mall kid for not being as cool as you; it also means, hey Mac-haters: it doesn’t make you look any smarter to hate on people whose tastes are different than yours.
Anyway, quite a ramble I guess. I just think the level of smackdown the guy is getting is not proportional to his wrongdoing.