Macs, "PCs" and the Power of Public Relations

One of the strangest turns-of-phrase that Apple has tried to hoist on the public is the term "PC" to mean all non-Apple computers. Even without delving much deeper, this is one of the most bizarre choices; Apple Mac computers are not just PCs, but they were arguably the first PCs—you would think that Apple would be proud of more or less inventing the idea of a Personal Computer.

Regardless, what is the point of the term PC to Apple advertising? Why did they run that classic series of commercials contrasting Macs and "PCs"? At a basic level, PC is just a catch-all exonym, that is, a term for all computers outside of a designated group. In reality, there's really nothing common to computers made by Lenovo, Dell, Asus and every other company that aren't also held in common with Apple computers. The only thing in common, at least, is the lack of the characteristic Apple weirdness (no other company is going to get rid of all their computers' important ports, for example).

Regardless, I noticed the actual public relations use of the term "PC" after I did my video on Macs—this term works wonders in the mind of an Mac fan. That is, nearly every dogmatic Apple user would call me a "PC fanboy"! PC fanboy... what could that possibly mean?

At first I thought most hate mail was coming from people who didn't watch 10 or so seconds in when I said that I used Linux (deliberately to avoid inane comments like this). I assumed that "PC" meant "a machine running Windows", which is clearly not what Mac-users thought the term to mean: it was all non-Mac computers. I'd guess that my old TI-84 calculator is a "PC" by that metric. This is a total inversion of what the term "fanboy" means of course. You can be a Mac fanboy: Apple Mac products, while sometimes different, all share the exact same design principles and are all owned by one company notorious for its quasi-cult like public relations.

While on the other hand, "PC fanboy" doesn't really mean anything—there's no common denominator or design or principle behind all non-Apple computers (again, aside from the fact that they don't do the manifestly stupid things that Apple does). A "PC fanboy" in practice just means someone who doesn't like Macs, but that's where the magic is for Apple advertising—Mac users have always been lampooned as cult members, but the term PC is an attempt redirect the claims of irrational devotion backwards. It doesn't have to make sense generally, but it makes sense in the head of an Apple fanboy: non-Mac computers are all the same and if you don't like Macs, you must just have some terrible emotional problem with them for no reason (this is the gist of most of the hatemail I get on this anyway).

Since I made my video on Macs, I don't dislike Macs any more than I did before, but I am continually losing respect for Mac users. I could've just as easily done a video on why I don't use Windows, but God knows that Windows users don't have the same genre of pathological attachment to the brand they use. That's not to imply that all comments from Mac users even disagreed with me, but the vocal members of the hivemind have certainly put a smug anime girl face on me from time to time.