The 'religion' of Apple
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The 'religion' of Apple

I'm one of the biggest Apple supporters around -- and have been even during its "beleaguered" years (when I actually did some freelance PR work for the local Apple education branch) -- but I certainly don't consider Apple my religion. Or a religion, at all.

I'm a Christian, and proud of it. On the other hand, I'm a fervent (well, usually) supporter of Apple products, but certainly don't worship them or the company that makes them. The same can be said of other Christians -- and Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc. -- worldwide.

However, in a research paper published this month (http://macosg.me/2/m9) by two professors at Texas A&M University, the authors argue that the only way to understand the slavish adoration and over-the top financial success of Apple and the iPhone is to understand its minimalist, white-walled stores as the new churches of the tech generation.

"The religious-like behavior and language surrounding Apple devotion/fandom is an example of 'implicit religion,'" Prof. Heidi Campbell, one of the authors of the study, told FoxNews (http://macosg.me/2/m8). Implicit religion can happen when the use of, say, technology becomes a substitute for belief and behaviors once attached to religion and religious practice, she said.

University researchers note that Apple's history has elements that reflect basic elements of more traditional religions:

° Apple's creation story epitomizes the humble garage origin of its technology -- not unlike the humble manger of Jesus' birth.

° Apple CEO Steve Jobs is perceived as a messianic leader who was fired but rose again to save the company.

° Apple has traditionally had an evil archenemy, the Devil, as represented first by Microsoft and now by Google.

In the words of John Stossel, "give me a break." Do you know anyone who prays to Steve Jobs? (BTW, if he's the Messiah, who are his 12 apostles?) Do you know anyone who considers their iPhone a sacred relic (pricey maybe, but not sacred -- and I think a sacred relic would have better widespread reception)? Do you know anyone who bows before their Mac? I may hug mine occasionally after having to use a Windows box, but that's different.

Most Apple fans simply like the company's usually seamless blend of form and function and are willing to deal with the occasional blunder such as "Antennagate" and Jobs' refusal to allow Blu-ray playback on the Mac. Sure, there are a few fringe elements in the Apple world who are a bit, er, overly zealous, but no more so than fans of other companies such as Harley Davidson, BMW, Mercedes, etc.

So, sure, I'll argue that Apple makes the best tech products around. I'll also argue that:

° Cherry Dr. Pepper is the best soft drink.

° Elton John and Bernie Taupin are the best song-writing duo since Lennon-McCarthy.

° John Travolta is the most under-appreciated actor of his generation (though his latest film choices don't help me with this argument.)

But I don't sip Cherry Dr. Pepper as a sacrament. I don't consider going down the Yellow Brick Road with Taupin-John a religious experience. And I don't consider Travolta a divine being.

Ditto with Apple. It's a cool tech company that makes products I love to use and which make my life more enjoyable and productive.

But a religion. No way.

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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