A couple of months ago I purchased the new MacBook Pro. I would like to justify my move away from a standard laptop with an essay full of computer jargon, but I can’t. I know nothing about computers. The aliens that work in the Apple store were wasting their time on me.
Apple is an ambivalent company. Like British Marmite (which is a yeast spread, for those of you who don’t take tea with the Queen, mmm), you either love them or hate them. Everyone agrees that they make gorgeous products. But everyone also agrees that those products are overpriced. While there is great debate contending their superiority over their rivals, it’s a ceaseless dialogue held between two loyal and unyielding fandoms. A never ending verbiage in a foreign language of pixels and gigahertz. One you would need a degree in Computer Science to comprehend. To the ordinary consumer, let’s be honest, the decision to buy a MacBook has little to do with the finer details. The aesthetic is a leading factor. A Mac, like a denim jacket, is a symbol, a cultural icon.
Does one’s decision to invest in any such object make them a victim of vanity and everything else detestable about our materialistic capitalist culture? Are we all consumer magpies, the puppets of smug marketing departments based somewhere ultra cool like downtown LA, seeking whatever we are told is shiny this week? Yup. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
When you think of a typical Mac user the following probably springs to mind. Someone sitting in a Starbucks, a pair of 3D-like glasses upon their nose, drinking their usual coffee (the kind that required a list of specificities to assemble). They have headphones in, listening to a band you haven’t heard of yet, uploading generic filtered photos – probably of their coffee – onto Instagram. The image is only too familiar. I wear those glasses. I like Starbucks. Heck, I even had indie Instagram before Facebook went and bought it… Does this make me a bad person? You might want to dislike me for it – I really want to dislike me for it – but the sad truth is conformity is inevitable. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Imitation should be seen positively, as complimentary. Without the idea of social majorities, minorities can’t exist to prompt progress.
We all prescribe, willingly or not, to the individuality-killing social construct that is fashion. If you wear Vans you are labelled as a particular stereotype, if you wear Converse you are assigned to another. If you wear something else entirely – damn that’s eccentric – have another label. You can’t avoid the labelling machine that is
media marketing society.
Try not to be too self-conscious of this ill-famed ‘main-stream’. Those who find their own quirky little tributaries are only doing the industry’s hard-work, carving out new directions for the main-stream to follow. Trying too hard to stay ahead of the current will leave you a washed up hipster, suffocating in the irony that you are now so cool that you’re uncool.
Or is it so uncool that you’re cool?