Welcome to Appleism – the religion that is Apple.
For decades we have heard of the “Cult of Apple” and the “Mac Cult” – the relatively small group of slavishly devoted technology fanatics obsessed with Apple and its pontiff, Steve Jobs. These “cultists” were typically artsy, creative types, who sneered at anything Microsoft and “Windows” because Windows was a shamelessly pathetic rip off of Mac’s operating system and because Microsoft “had no taste” – as Jobs once sermonized. And so people bought into this idea of the Apple cult.
Apple isn’t a cult anymore, it has become a full blown religion with scores of millions of followers. The frenzy around the iPhone brings to mind the clamoring throngs that greeted Jesus at the height of his ministry.
There are many, many different tests for what makes something a religion. They range from belief in a higher power to sacred rituals to moral codes to sacred places. In every instance Appleism passes the test.
Religions are based on some belief in a higher or supernatural power. Meet Steve Jobs whose story is supernatural. He started Apple with a friend in his parent’s garage and by the time he was 30 was running a multibillion company that had revolutionized computing. Then he was tossed aside, sent to the desert abandoned and despised. Apple slowly sank. At a moment when the company, er, faith, was near its end Jobs returned – the Second Coming – and brought salvation (also known as the iMac, iBook, and iPod). With the introduction of iPhone, however, Appleism may be outgrowing even Jobs with a belief in the power of Apple in and of itself. Apple has become its own deity.
Sacred v. profane objects, places, and times. This one is easy. Sacred: Apple. Profane: Microsoft. Sacred times? MacWorld, Appleism’s equivalent of the annual return to Mecca. Then there is this coming Friday where millions will be standing in line to pay homage to the most sacred Apple of all – the iPhone. However, it is unclear whether some will one day move to make June 29th, the date of iPhone’s introduction, a national holiday.
Ritual acts focused on sacred objects, places, times. Every time someone with an iPod uses its ubiquitous “click wheel” and every time someone sits before a Mac, or opens a Macbook Pro (like the one I am currently using) they are performing a ritual act of worship, sacred in its own way. The same is true when using iTunes to manage music or iPhoto to manage pictures or iMovie to create films – these are all ritual acts both devoted to Appleism and made possible by the Apple deity.
Characteristically religious feelings (awe, wonder, gratitude, guilt, adoration, etc.). Appleism’s followers know of guilt and they experience it every time they use a Windows computer. I have a friend who is a loyal Mac guy but recently finished a big project on an IBM. He emailed me and talked about his guilt. (I’m not joking). More than guilt though, they know of awe, wonder, and gratitude. Every new Apple invention, every time Steve Jobs take a stage to announce something beautiful and wonderful all Appleists tingle with joy and anticipation.
A worldview and morality based on the faith. Appleism espouses a liberal worldview that challenges conventional morality and norms and encourages creativity. It was clearly seen in the famed “Think Different” ad campaign that highlighted everyone from John Lennon and Gandhi to two lesbians kissing in bed. It is, however, most clearly seen in the new “Get a Mac” ads where the casual kid who represents the Mac is constantly poking fun at the tie-wearing guy – the symbol of stodgy conservatism. These ads don’t just poke fun at Microsoft but at the kind of boring, humdrum, life that Microsoft empowers. They are jabs at the conventional; jabs at the orthodox and tried and true. They are ads that strike at the heart of older religions while evangelizing Appleism.
Oh, and one more thing.
I am an Appleist. I have a MacBook and an iMac. My wife and I have more than 7,000 photos on iPhoto and more than 15,000 songs (all legal – ok, there may be a few from the old Napster days) on iTunes. We have at least four iPods in the house. I own Apple stock. I have watched every iPhone ad repeatedly. Since my own faith in Jesus requires that I have no God before my God it is clear that something in my life must change. And things will change. Right after I get that iPhone.
Read Gizmodo’s Brian Lam’s response on his own faith in Apple.