Monday, August 16, 2010

Two steps to freeing yourself from operating system zealotry

First, repeat the following mantra to yourself until you really, really believe it:

Other people's needs, habits, and experiences with software differ dramatically from mine, and are just as legitimate.

Your platform of choice may seem to satisfy your needs exactly. It may ring every single chime in the halls of your heart. But if you sincerely believe that every user who wants something different is simply mistaken, then you're presuming to a knowledge that you do not possess: namely, the knowledge of how every other user behaves.

Second, pay close attention when you're using your preferred computing device, and make a mental note every time you end up staring, slack-jawed or pissed-off or confused, while your computer does something other than what you just asked it to do. (This includes while you're waiting for some indicator to stop spinning, or when you need to stab the "Cancel" or "Back" button.) If you believe that this never happens to you, then you are not paying close enough attention, and in fact you should be frightened, because you have become so habituated to your platform of choice that you've learned to automatically edit these moments out of your consciousness. The inescapable truth is that all computing platforms suck in different ways, including yours. And until you realize this, you will not have achieved enlightenment.

Once these two conclusions sink in, you will shortly see that all OS zealotry is the futile worship of invented gods — cruel, greedy, capricious, and temporary gods to boot. Arguing with people on the Internet about the superiority of your computing bauble will seem to you like a species of insanity.

But who am I kidding. Most OS zealots are fractally wrong and it's a fool's errand to dissuade them. But maybe you, dear reader, can be saved...

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