Will I take the red pill or blue pill?
When the line of salt is poured on the hangar deck, will I be on the right side?
Am I a Mac or a PC?
Among the important decisions one can make in life, the Mac vs. PC choice has drawn a hard line since its inception, and there’s little wishy-washiness permitted from either side. The new Mac ads and Microsoft’s response ads reinforce this notion of Identity via Platform. You either ARE or ARE NOT.
So what is one to do with a mixed background? I know that there’s a small percentage of people out there like me, who were not raised with hard-lined indoctrination.
My family’s first computer was a Macintosh 512K in 1985, but in school I was exposed to the Commodore 64 and the Apple IIe. Friends had IBMs with fancy color screens and floppy disks that were actually floppy. My family graduated to a color-screened Macintosh Quadra 610 at about the same time my high school put new 486 PCs in all the classrooms.*
In 1995, I helped my mom computerize her dental office with PCs that ran Windows 95, and subsequently inherited one of those PCs during college. Ben has built all of my computers from scratch since then, and I’ve watched him play around in Linux environments. In my last job, I worked closely with the art team (who of course used high-end Macs) and learned lots of Adobe tricks and developed a minor case of Mac Envy.
So that brings me to my current dilemma: My computer needs a serious overhaul, which under normal circumstances would mean that Ben would buy some new parts and reuse what he could to build me a new desktop. However, I’ve determined that a laptop will suit my needs better than a desktop right now. And Ben doesn’t have the manufacturing facilities available to build one for me.
For the first time in my adult life, I will have to choose a Mac or a PC.
I know the arguments. I’m familiar with the “Mac tax” and of the issues that come with the various PC laptops out there. I’ve recently touched and played with more laptops in-store than should be legal, and I’m trying to keep my biases at bay. I’m trying to be practical. I’m trying not to let the shiny, clever Get a Mac ads affect my choice (which is hard, considering that I am in their target demographic and they nailed it, man).
What it really comes down to is that I feel like my future identity will be shaped by the laptop I choose. Mac people want me on their side. PC people want me on their side. Open source purists chide me for not being geek enough to even consider Linux.**
There are four choices, as I see it:
- Pick a side. Accept the identity of Mac or Windows PC.
- Go underground and choose Linux or some other obscure OS.
- Accept a dual life and learn how to be both a Mac and a PC.
- Choose nothing and become a Luddite.
“Be grateful you even have a choice,” I hear my ancestors whisper from Beyond The Great Divide, because they didn’t have the luxury of choices like these, and they probably also had to climb up a hill both ways in the snow to get the the outhouse, which wasn’t even an outhouse but just a deep pit in the ground that was surrounded by angry bears just waiting to come after them the minute they dropped their pants.
Dear readers, if you’ve been lucky enough to make The Choice, which probably means that a bear never caught you with your pants down, what choice did you make? Did you struggle like me? Has your identity been shaped by your choice? Do you really wish you’d been attacked by a bear just so that you would have been spared reading this whole blog post all the way to the end?
Thanks in advance for your comments.
* Ben was actually a student and an IT employee at our high school who helped install and maintain the school district’s network. I have a cute photo of us together in the high school server/computer repair room. Didn’t know back then that I would marry him and that we’d always have at least one room in our house buried under tangles of cables and scattered computer bits!
** Unfortunately, sometimes majority rules and this is what happens to open source purists who dare suggest that one has to be like them to be a real geek. Comic yoinked from Dueling Analogs.