Robin Williams, the author of The Little Mac Book and multiple other books about Macs and desktop publishing is known for saying, “You’re attitude is your life.” I would tend to agree with her. How you approach life in attitude does truly effect how your life is lived. It might also explain why Macs are easier to use.
His name was Johnny. He was Windows geek. He was helping me by setting up dual monitors on my Windows NT 4.0 workstation. Talk about attitude. Though his name was Johnny, he was not nearly as friendly as his name would seem. How does that happen? People with friendly names turn out to be extremely hostile?
He sat and rummaged around in various NT control panels, grunting occasionally, talking to himself or the PC, I’m not sure which. He was clicking here and there, reading this and that. Finally, he snipped, “OK, I’m going to reboot again. I’ll need your password.” It wasn’t a request, it wasn’t even a command, it was said with disgust and complete offense that I would even be entrusted to actually have a password, let alone know how to use it.
He was definitely a Windows Bigot. He was also hostile, rude, mean and completely without any social skills or personal redeeming qualities. Unlike some knowledgeable Windows users, he was just plain mean. He wielded his knowledge of the platform like a club. Something I found all too common among IT/IS techs.
I lamented that having to use two PCI video cards would be slower. (He had previously tried to use the existing AGP card along with a PCI video card on my NT box and failed.) I joked that on my Mac at home my AGP card got along famously with my PCI video card. Plug and play was the term I used. He looked at me with disgust and fear born of ignorance. Disgust that I would use a Mac and ignorance about what Macs could do. I could feel the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. I nearly felt pity until he barked, “NOW!” I could only assume that he wanted me to type in my password. I bent over the keyboard while he exhausted yet another hostile sigh.
Ironically when not working on computers or talking about software or operating systems he was extremely shy. Interacting with him personally, he was very quiet and seemingly friendly. Only when the subject or focus was about computers did this extreme personality come to the surface. It was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing.
He let out a laugh, the kind that bullies are infamous for when you get pushed to the ground and wind up in a mud puddle. “You use a Mac? It’s a toy. That’s not a real computer. I only work on real computers.” I looked at him squarely in the eye. “What do you know about Macs?”
“I know they’re toys. They aren’t real computers,” he patted my workstation, “this is a real computer.” I realized he didn’t know a thing about them. He was only focused on his little world and could not entertain anything outside of it.
He was a bigot and I do mean that in the most hateful of ways. Bigotry is not limited just to issues of race. Any time that another person is hateful toward someone for nothing more than who they are, what they do, the color of their skin, what church they attend, what size they are or how they live, that is bigotry in a pluralistic society. All people are created equal no matter any of the above, or even what computer they choose to use. If you could have felt the energy, seen the body language, the look in his eyes. You’d also have seen his Windows bigotry.
His ignorance and the complete lack of ability to open his mind and educate himself to anything but Windows was scary in a near comical way. I hesitated to use the word bigot but a double check of the dictionary shows that a bigot is defined as: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.
He reminded me of someone I had met years ago. He was so full of bigotry on so many different issues there was no talking to him. I once discussed music with him. I was shocked that he didn’t believe that any music other than classical was valid. I tried in vain to show him that jazz for example actually had a basis in classical music. Those improvised solos actually had first appeared in some classical songs. He literally kept talking louder and louder over the top of me, not unlike a four-year-old stuffing their fingers in their ears and yelling “La, la, la, la! I don’t hear you!” so that he wouldn’t hear anything foreign to his own beliefs and stagnate opinions. That was about the first time I had experienced bigotry. It would not be the last.
Trying to avoid his Windows bigotry and get to the kinder person I thought was in there (at least when not talking about computers) I joked that he was mistaken, that Macs were indeed real computers. I pointed out how the Windows ’95 logo was designed on a Mac, that with a G4 processor they were more powerful than the old Cray Super Computers that took used to take up an entire room. I then mentioned that Mac OS X was based on FreeBSD UNIX, that Perl, Java, root level access and multiple users were now all a part of Macs. But despite all those UNIX underpinnings, Macs were easy to use. Easier to use than Windows in many cases and that was what a computer was supposed to do. Help the user to accomplish tasks. I had threatened his reality.
He shot back, “I don’t care about any of that! Windows are the only real computers out there. And you know all these people on this site that think they’re computer literate? Guess what? 98% of them are not.” We worked at a top five PC manufacturer so his statement was pretty arrogant. “I’m computer literate!” his volume increased. “Computers are supposed to be hard to use. Computers are supposed to be difficult and only a few of us actually know how to make them work. Most anyone, who thinks they know how computers work, don’t. Only a few of us really know what makes computers work. The rest of you are just stupid…” he trailed off. I knew he wanted to end his sentence with a slur but knew better in this corporate mandated politically correct atmosphere. But you could feel the vile disgust emanating from him towards me and toward virtually everyone around him. “I,” he paused for effect, “am computer literate.” he said in a superior tone.
It was then why I realized why Windows was so hard and why Macs were shunned. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of IT/IS managers out there that were just older versions of this snot nose kid. He was hateful, bigoted, and so insecure about himself that anything outside of his Windows reality threatened him to his core. If you pressed him it was like backing a scared dog into a corner. You’d better look out Ôcause he was going to lash out.
He’d never share how he had set up the dual monitors so I never asked. Had I asked I would have been figuratively beaten with his Computer Literacy. He was just hateful. Just like his older counterparts he had figured out that knowledge was power. He liked having power and he liked bullying any and everyone with it.
Windows just might be a fine platform but when you come across people so spiteful and so mean, no wonder they like keeping others in the dark. No wonder they hate the thought of a Macintosh where a user can do all that they want without the aide of their “computer literacy.”
I stayed quiet after that. Thinking about hate, intolerance, thinking about why in the world could anyone be so rabid towards another person, just for being different. Thinking about all the other experiences of bigotry I’d seen both in IT/IS and everyday life, about all of the people that hate other people because of the color of their skin, the church they chose to worship, the beliefs they hold, their sexual preferences, and the length of their hair or their ethnic history. I honestly don’t understand it.
I’m not saying that all Windows users are bigots for their platform. But people like Johnny have always been around in the PC industry, especially within IT/IS services. They gain their Windows expertise and then proceed to hoard that knowledge. Producing it only when it’s advantageous to them or to prove how superior they are. Where, in the world of Macs we tend to be so much more helpful and willing to share with each other.
I’m glad that I use a Mac. I’m also glad that I maintain a certain amount of cross platform computer literacy. Not so I can use it as a club but as something that helps me help others. I often am vocal about the Macs’ abilities but I’m not so blind as to believe they are the only real computers.
Maybe that’s why Windows is hard and Macs are shunned. It’s the people. Ironically, maybe that’s why Macs are also easier.