Zach LeBar

Personal ramblings on a wide array of topics. "But, you know,
I could be wrong."

Apple, As an Identity

— Cool! I'm an Apple fan too.

I’ve been struggling with how to frame my thoughts about the current state of Apple.

I’m not a veteran Mac user. I’ve only ever used a Mac running some flavor of OS X*. Still, I’ve used them all my life. Everything great I’ve ever done on a computer has been on a Mac.

Yet I find myself typing these words out on an iPhone.

There’s been a lot of outcry recently from people who use Macs, people who love Apple. I don’t know if there’s been any one big thing, but lots of little ones are piling up and causing the mood to shift.§

Plenty of Apple pundits can explain away the concerns we have in rational and understandable ways. It’s pretty easy to see Apple’s perspective on things if you try.

Still, there’s that weird feeling in the air. The decisions Apple is making aren’t harmonizing with a lot of their vocal, die-hard fans. Apple’s choices aren’t wrong. They’re just different.

Apple hasn’t been the underdog for over a decade now. Apple is an enormous, multi-national corporation and they act like it. That’s not the problem though. The problem, is that we’ve tied up so much of our own identity in the Apple that was.

Time goes by, and the scrappy little company filled with California dreamers becomes the spitting-image of The Man. Our feelings for the whole thing start to change. Maybe it all starts to seem a bit silly. Our love for a business.

Then the fear creeps in. We talk about how we’re afraid for our work, our livelihoods. The tools we use to put food on our tables are languishing, or disappearing.

But deeper down, I think there’s another fear.

We’ve spent so much of our lives identifying as Apple users. Apple fans. Our identity, our sense of self, is intertwined with Apple. For a designer like me, I cultivated my sense of style and taste, my entire design aesthetic, on the example set by Apple. Maybe you did too.

To lose that cornerstone is traumatic.

Now, let’s be clear here. I’m not saying that this has already happened. I don’t think all is lost. I’m not even saying it’s inevitable. But I think it’s the deeper, stronger emotion running under the boiling discontent in the Apple community.

Who are we, if we don’t feel like we can identify ourselves as “Apple people”?

*: And before one of you goes all Van Hœt on me, I’m not currently running macOS Sierra on any of my machines, so my statement here stands.

§: There’s only three links here, to some of the most recent pieces I’ve come across on the subject. I know I’ve missed some, including many a Twitter rant on the topic. My apologies.