Monday, July 9, 2012


I used to think it was a fad. Like Kabbalah, Scientology, or Twilight-mania. I dismissed it because it was foreign to me. I'd been raised on alternative methods of thought, with differing tools for life. How could I convert after all these years to something that was clearly just a marketing scheme and a clever ploy to make the world into a uniform body with an obsession with one all-powerful entity.

Then I got my MacBook Pro.

With that ridiculously overpriced purchase, I could never look back again at any electronic that was not associated with the name Steve Jobs. Just nickname me iRedDelicious because as far as Windows, HP, Gateway and every other bested brand were concerned, I was a rogue fruit. It was Apple all the way, and no mistake.

But my relationship with the Almighty Fruit did not travel a smooth path. It was a troubled journey full of missteps and wrong turns, choices that would set me back rather than pushing me forward. It would take a while until I'd "Choose the Right" (as a Mormon might put it).

My first encounter with Apple came in preschool. Of that period in my life, I have a few select memories. Some are fascinating insights into childhood - like when one of my childcare teachers (if that's what you'd call them) took my favorite jacket from me and removed the lace that is used to tighten the hood. I cried and I cried and I complained to my mom. But it couldn't be salvaged.

Other memories are not so traumatic or telling. One of them is a little snapshot of looking around in my childcare center and seeing a little symbol on a computer. A rainbow colored apple. The symbol meant absolutely nothing to me, but shortly thereafter I'd connect some dots - realizing that the computer I had was different than the one I saw in childcare. What that meant, though, was lost on me.

A few years later, the movie Legally Blonde came out. In one scene of the film, Elle purchases a new Mac laptop so she can fit in with the Harvard Law crowd, but unlike the rest of the students in her classes - her laptop was white and bright, almost neon, orange.

At that point, I still only used a computer for playing Solitaire and going on AOL to chat with my friend Ashley, so the concept of Apple versus PC was still a foreign concept. A computer is a computer is a computer, right? The only benefit of an Apple computer was that it came in a snazzy neon color. Which I guess was a draw, but it was not enough to trump my multi-colored "Away" status on AIM.

Up until then, I can't remember Apple products being much of a phenomenon. Sure, they were competitors to the Windows sales model, but they weren't exactly a threat. What they offered was equivalent to what was already well-provided by an established market of home computers. Equivalency being relative, since my tech-un-savvy brain knows nothing about the strengths and weaknesses of early 2000's era Macs versus PCs.

When I finally got an Apple product, though, I was entering my early teens. I walked into Costco and picked up that silver iPod Mini, and as I held it up to the light (I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect, here, I hope you know) it was like looking at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Nothing could be more beautiful than a little box-y electronic that held hours of music on it. When I touched that scroll-y circle (technical term), it was like Adam touching the hand of God (I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect here).

Still, I refused to embrace the concept that was Apple fandom. Surely Apple products were, as my young self believed, the equivalent to their computer counterparts.

That's why when I went to college, I was suckered into buying a Laptop PC. My dad and I were at a local electronics store, wandering through the aisles when a floor salesman ambushed us in the Apple aisle to drag us over to a row of off-brand Laptops. He pulled a pen from his shirt pocket and put it inside the laptop, slamming it shut and proclaiming to us and the entire store that it had "incredible durability." An MacBook wouldn't be able to do that. And they're made for people working with art and imaging, not word processing like me, the budding young journalism student.

So I was duped. And even though I left that store without purchasing a thing - since I realized that it was some kind of a scam - when I moved onto another store I'd mistakingly abandoned the idea of getting a Mac - even though in my heart of hearts I was starting to believe there was something to Apple-ianity. Apple-ism. Apple-tology. Apple-am.

I went on for a year and a half with my Laptop PC. It did fine work for about...well...two days or so. A short time after I started using the thing, I was already discovering defects in the audio and the general speed of the functions of the computer. But returning it was out of the question.

So I stuck with Soleil 2.0 until her very last day. It was my first day of class in Winter Quarter 2012, and I was all set to go to my Landscape and Cinema class with a pen, a notebook and Soleil.

Then she died quite suddenly. As I tapped the Firefox shortcut on my desktop, she shuddered and turned black. Pop-ups blasted all over my screen. Somehow I'd gotten a virus onto my computer - even with my purchase of a full-priced security and virus protection program.

When Soleil died, I was lost. I called my dad and I asked him what to do - should I buy a new laptop in person or purchase one online and use school computers in the interim? There were many concerns, but one thing was absolutely decided: I was not getting another PC.

When I purchased Soleil 3.0, there was a bit of a learning curve, but as with every Apple product I've ever purchased, that was soon dismissed.

Now, after having her for almost seven months, I think about my transition from hesitant Apple customer to one of the many who've found themselves worshipping the partially bitten fruit. If I'm going to return to a previously used metaphor, we are a bit like the image on the Sistine Chapel. Except instead of God representing the Almighty Fruit, we would have to replace the ceiling's imagery with the apple itself. The forbidden fruit - that lost us eternal life, but gave us a reason to live. That is not to say that Apple as a brand is the be all end all of humanity's need for electronic interconnectivity, but the ease and beauty of Apple is sometimes awarded to us in exchange for our souls.

Yesterday I bought my first iPhone. I say "first" because when it comes to Apple, there's always a second. And a third. And maybe even a fourth and a fifth, though only time will tell. Not because the products are defective or fall apart easily (as was the fate of poor Soleil 2.0), but because we as humans want our devices to keep evolving along with us.

A few minutes ago, my dad interrupted my writing of this blog with a phone call. He was on his way home from work with his new iPhone and wanted to ring me just to let me know how much he loves using his new phone.

I think that little moment between my dad and me is the perfect example of what Apple does for its customers. It gives them something to be excited about, something to take joy in and want to share that joy in with everyone around them. It's why there is such a large cult following behind these products. It's why as soon as a new model of iPhone comes out, the next one is already being hypothesized about. It's why they've invented tools like FaceTime and every reputable programmer has their eyes set on the next marketable App.

It's why we've all found ourselves considering our own devoted worship of the Almighty Fruit. And Amen for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment