I'm A Computer Guy Among Other Things

Remember those funny, “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC,” ads back in the iPod days? They remind me of the tendency to identify with a certain brand or team. So am I an Apple fanboy, a PC nerd, or a Google geek? Am I an Android or iPhone guy? I’m a mixed bag; just a computer guy.

If I had to choose just one, though, I think I’d be a PC person. Why? Our first computer at home was a Windows 95 PC. And in college, I bought my very own Win 98 SE setup. Professionally, I’ve always worked on a PC. And even though, at different points, I’ve gone all-in with Android plus Chromebook or MacBook plus iPhone, I always lean back toward a PC, which is still the main computer in my home.

But my tendency to prefer a PC is weird to me in a way. On some level, I’m a fan of Apple thanks to the iPhone, and my current M1 MacBook Air is excellent. Yet even if macOS is objectively better than Windows overall, I like some Windows features more. I think it’s simply what I’m most familiar (and comfortable) with. Like I said, I’m a mixed bag.

At this point, since I like both Windows and Mac, if I had to choose one over the other as “my daily driver,” I’d choose Windows because it’s more practical in my household among other PC users.

I don’t know the psychology behind identifying with brands and such, but let me say I’m not having some kind of identity crisis, wondering whether I’m a Mac or PC. I’m a computer dude, simple as that. And these things are just tools; use the best one for the job. Right?

But I’ll admit that when I was all-in with Apple, I thought I might be counted as a cool guy among the hip Apple community. No such luck. Being an “Apple guy” doesn’t work for me because:

  1. I’m just not that cool in general. No surprise there.
  2. It’s not good to try to fit in with something that you don’t really fit into. And it’s not good to find your identity in a brand or object. Brands disappear or can worsen over time. Objects eventually break or at least lose their shine. Then there goes your identity.
  3. I switch my tech setup too much to ever stay settled in one camp, whether it’s Google, Apple, or Microsoft. Besides, going all-in means you must accept platform lock-in. That kind of works, so long as you’re content. But the lock-in that seems to protect you can turn to feel like it confines you.

So as I’ve decouple from Apple lately, I’ve sought to make my tech setup a mix (just like me) of cross-platform tools that are most practical in my situation. The pragmatism is very handy and kind of liberating. I’m open to many tech solutions, not just ones that belong to a certain brand. And I don’t have to settle in a single camp but can use bits and pieces of them all; it’s more flexible.

Using a mix of computer stuff speaks to the practical. But for me, it’s the psychological side about identity that’s got my brain gears cranking. There’s still a part of me that wants to use what some of my peers use, to be part of the crowd. I think one aspect of being human means always wrestling with the desire to “fit in.” We are made for community after all.

What do you think?

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