I Love Apple. I Hate Microsoft.

For many years now, Apple and Microsoft have both heavily promoted their products and somehow imputed an elevated self-identity status among computer users. There was such a visceral response between the Apple and Microsoft users. I’m not going so far as to say there was a dislike between the users, but there were some dirty looks. What many did not realize was that their differences were just business.

The marketers figured out that the more customers’ emotions were influenced, the more loyal customers were to the product. If disagreements between the companies could not be resolved amicably, Apple and Microsoft would sue each other. At other times they spoke of collaborating.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were small personalities with huge marketing budgets. They tapped into all the available media channels at the time — tv, print, and radio. The computers functioned relatively similarly. The computer wasn’t much more than a typewriter that eliminated the need for an eraser and messy double-sided paper. The difference you may ask? Apple introduced the mouse and graphical user interface (GUI) commercially. Microsoft had the disk operating system (DOS).

Marketing agencies were able to use product offering differences to tap into our emotions. There was a divide of the traditionalists vs. the innovators and the young vs. the younger. Occasionally, the conversations championing one computer over the other got weird. I witnessed an intense conversation about stuff that combined emotion, ignorance, righteousness, and stubbornness.

People were actually identifying their ‘being’ with a product — A COMPUTER. I thought it was funny when I heard two folks arguing over which was better, neither were engineers, computer techs, or graphic artists. They were just typing reports like me. At a certain point they were really stretching facts, wanting so desperately to be right.

They forgot the basics of life, or at what point did they no longer matter?

I am no different than the millions of people on the street. Like all of us, I participate in the activities of living. I eat, I have relationships, I work, I want safety, I want better for my family, I want a fair shot at life. Some humor would be nice. The list could go on and on with the basics of life. Really, it is all the boring stuff we have in common, and few people would disagree.

Like everybody, I’m influenced by so much information, whether it is social media, TV, family, religious affiliations, and/or friends. Something is always being presented to me, almost pushed on me. If I’m awake, I’m startled with sounds that could be music, news, or commentary. I try to work out in the morning, my old MacBook Pro is plugged into the TV to project workout apps. By the time I hit the kitchen, I have my smartphone in my hand scrolling through Facebook, MSN, YouTube, and whatever other social media app that pops up on my newsfeed. I’m now anxious.

I find myself focused on themes and topics I never considered important. Subconsciously my emotions are stirring. I’m either happy, mad, or nervous and no human has spoken a word to me. My head is filled with everybody else’s agenda wealthy enough to buy enough ad space. That’s my routine. The basics of life have become a faint background concept. The media gods know so much about me (you must-watch, Social Dilemma on Netflix).

Now, I’m out the door, on edge, going to work (now upstairs, lol). At work, I boot up the computer, Windows starts, my computer looks like a color magazine. The staff and I have snippets of conversation, mostly discussing business concepts or tasks. When not working, the other more social and less structured conversations are with people who think like me.

We agree on 95% of our conversation and there is very little pushback on the 5% that we disagree on. I’m in a silo and it feels normal, but it’s not the real world. That’s my routine. I don’t really know too many people that disagree with me, or at least disagree with me enough to stretch my thinking. It’s that silo thing.

Then this election thing hit. My world expanded quickly. Where did these racist, sexist, hate-filled people come from? Why weren’t they thinking reasonably like me? How could they be so fooled? Why didn’t they see my world and its importance? Then, I stopped asking questions. That’s when the dehumanizing process started to take place. They stopped being people and became foolish objects. They could not connect to my world.

At some point after the election, I started thinking, “How did I get here?” How did I go from a place that made sense to dehumanizing people? Let us be clear, there are some people I stay far away from. I know these people and they have earned my mistrust. And I’m not addressing reconciliation, at least right now. I’m talking about managing my own emotions to prevent sliding down the slope of easily dehumanizing people.

I remember a time when things made sense. Issues centered around the basics. The divisions were always there, but they made sense. It wasn’t right and attempts for change were being made and still are. But, fought over the basics, the war became an ever-present background of living.

I’ll bring it back to Team Apple and Team Microsoft now. Unlike in the day of the few big brands like Apple and Microsoft influencing us over computers, there are now countless influences that we take in every day. Instead of just sharing an opinion between just two ignorant people, we can create a whole community of emotionally charged, righteous, stubborn members. There are deeper disagreements about religion, politics, schools, neighborhoods, and countless issues.

We not only disagree, but we also demonize and declare our forever seal of separation. From what I’ve seen, emotions are the new facts. The danger is not the information, but not separating the emotion from the acceptance of facts. It’s the inability to remember the basics in the midst of the moment. It sounds like a simple decision to think clear thoughts during a stressful situation, but it’s not nearly that easy.

Note: (I’m not a Psychologist)

It’s not ‘just’ a decision. It’s part of our biology. At some level our limbic system is engaging with the information presented. The more influencers we allow to passively entertain us or engage with us, we are slowly, systematically tilting. It’s like buying a home security system and in the back of your mind thinking about zombies attacking vs. a human home invasion, or the pending apocalypse because your world view is challenged. We literally can’t see straight. Have you ever tried to speak to someone emotionally charged? Emotions are not rational, but they are very real. Emotions are not tempered using facts or reasoning or any kind of evidence. Emotions must run their course. Emotions do not respect honor, or being wrong or right. You cannot argue against someone that is emotional.

Note: (Ok, I’m back)

If you weren’t an engineer, computer tech, or graphic artist and Apple and Microsoft got you charged up, they gotcha. Just think, Apple and Microsoft were only selling computers. Now, with more influencers, more emotions, and more points of disagreement, unresolved conflict makes sense. Emotions like hate and indifference can easily be exhibited against people that think and live differently than you. You can even get charged up over people and places you’ve never met or visited. Like I said, emotions are irrational.

So, what I have uncovered? When I think of Apple and Microsoft, I can accept their products as tools. The people that favor one over the other just have preferences that in some way align with their own need or identity. I’ve also learned that I’ve got my own bias. Hopefully, someone can give me a pass when I can’t see. The big take away: I can accept the idea that my world is not the only world and I don’t know everyone’s’ ‘why.’

Like Apple and Microsoft, we have so much in common. Remember, there is far more to explore in all the basic stuff.

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Entrepreneur and forward-thinking community advocate with 20+ years of experience in education and mental health services.

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Aaron Copeland

Aaron Copeland

Entrepreneur and forward-thinking community advocate with 20+ years of experience in education and mental health services.

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