Mac Scope

Who Are You Calling a Masochist?

Stephen Van Esch - 2002.12.04

Wired recently tackled the supposed addiction that Mac users have to their Macs. If you can't be bothered to read the story, the nutshell idea is that Mac users put up with a lot of crap from Apple that indicates some sort of masochistic tendency (among other things).

The eye catcher is the idea that Mac users are masochists because we put up with Apple's shenanigans. This seems like a very unusual idea to me. From my experience, most people move to the Mac because they aren't masochists.

A masochist is defined as someone who more or less derives pleasure from being humiliated or mistreated by others. While I'll be the first to say that Apple has mistreated Mac users a fair bit, I personally think that Windows users are the masochists in this scenario.

No question that Apple mistreats Mac users. Windows users, however, put up with way more abuse. Blue screen of death anyone? Hardware problems? Software problems? Forced upgrades? Subscription services? Viruses? And don't even mention the daily "user experience."

Let's be realistic here. Mac users suffer from many of the same computer problems that Windows users do, but not to the same extent. We occasionally run into hardware and software problems. We've also seen the forced upgrade strategy (or will in January, when new Macs will not longer boot OS 9). And .mac is a great example of subscription services gone awry.

But I think the difference is the degree of these problems. We see less hardware and software problems than a Windows user will. Forced upgrades don't happen that often. Subscriptions are a take it or leave it proposition.

On the Windows side, though, these are serious problems. It's an adventure for some people when they try to get their printer to work. Software upgrades are greeted with trepidation. Once burned, twice shy seems to the prevailing wisdom. XP automatic updates, even if they break existing software, are also an interesting "feature" that I think I would greatly fear. As for subscription services, well, talk to an IT manager about that and see what they think.

Let's put things in perspective. With all the issues people have with Windows, it sure sounds like Windows users are the ones who derive pleasure from being humiliated or mistreated. I mean, heck, it's less masochistic to get knocked around twice a year than every week.

I personally moved to the Mac because I didn't feel like being a masochist anymore. I was tired of upgrading, troubleshooting, rebuilding, and reinstalling. Sure, I got a rush out of it, but eventually it just got boring. "I just want to get some work done," was my eventual attitude.

Flagellation with the cat 'o nine tails just isn't for me. I'll take a smack across the palm with a ruler any day.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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