Can't we all just get along?

March 18, 2015

Picture this ... You arrive at a business meeting, introduce yourself, sit down, pull out your pen to take some notes, and all of a sudden multiple people in the room start to mock you and make fun of your pen. 

They make backhanded comments about how good of a job you can do with a pen like that. Sounds pretty out of place and strange doesn’t it? What if we replace the word ‘pen’ with ‘computer’ in the previous example? Would that seem as out of place? Or can you easily see people in a meeting making fun of someone else’s computer because it’s not the type that they prefer?

I have personally witnessed the latter many times. It really makes me wonder why it is that we understand that it’s unacceptable to mock other people’s personal appearance but when it comes to a tool as simple as a computer or smartphone we somehow can’t stop ourselves from commenting. What makes our choice of digital tool so contentious?

America is a nation glued to marketing and it very much seems that this “warring tribes” mentality of Apple vs The Man has permeated how people actually interact with each other. It’s not enough to be happy with your own personal choice of device, you must also voice disdain for the other person’s choice. Why? Please do us all a favor and try to catch yourself the next time you’re about to make a disparaging comment about someone else’s digital device. Believe me, it’s not elevating you.

People try to place importance on themselves with various metrics – it’s how we’re wired – but believe me when I say that the device you’re using doesn’t make you more or less important. It doesn’t. There are perfectly valid reasons for actually NEEDING to run one type of computer or OS over another, but the simple fact that your computer is the ‘right’ color or made by one company or another does not make you better at a job than someone else.  

Please understand that the devices you are using do NOT define you, nor do they make you better or worse than another person.

As an IT professional, I’ll let you in on a little secret: ALL computers break and fail. Yep, all of them. Just because you use one type of computer at home doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for work and vice versa. And that’s why I find it so interesting that while people are typically very civil with each other’s choices of things, the computer and smartphone arenas still seem to be open season. A few weeks ago, I was attending a budgeting meeting at my church and our Pastor broke out his computer, only to be ribbed excessively by other members of the meeting. The Pastor fired back at them with equal velocity. It dawned on me that even attending a church budgeting meeting isn’t safe from this phenomenon! 

So have these warring tribes existed ever since Jobs v Gates? Does it only seem louder now because Apple has grabbed market share so quickly in the last few years? Judging from the “Mac vs PC” commercials from a few years ago, Apple is just fine with the warring tribes mentality and seems to embrace it as much as they can. Samsung firing back with the “iSheep in line” commercials has only escalated the war and helped to perpetuate the fight in the conference or living room. Have digital devices now transcended the role of tools and moved on to just being fashion accessories?

So here’s my plea to all those reading this: please understand that the devices you are using do NOT define you, nor do they make you better or worse than another person. It’s perfectly acceptable for you and others to drive different cars, wear different clothes, and like different movies. It’s equally OK for you and others to have different digital devices without a war of words or assumptions of superiority.