Appleplexy

This article is part of a series about memes in popular culture. If you don’t know yet, what memes and memetics are, you will find the answer in part 1 and part 2.

Apple_Mac_mouse_funny_wallpaper_pictures-thumbOne of the most successfully spread memeplexes, which could be seen as a prototype of how culture is made in the 21st century, is the myth of Apple Macintosh. The company developed several computers and gadgets, like phones, music players and hand-held computers. The products of Apple have in the last ten years advanced to cult objects among their users.

For some, these products, or even more the company itself, are perceived as sacred. Through a well-formed image, a commercial omnipresence and appropriately chosen symbolism the Apple company triggered a new wave of consumerism and consumers’ devotion: “It is no secret that there has been a great deal of hype surrounding the iPhone and it is also no secret that Apple probably has the most loyal and fanatic customers in the world“ [3].

This leads to the fact that the fans of Apple are so devoted to their devices that they are defending e.g. the phone produced by the company, “despite the shortcomings and limitations of both past and present versions of the iPhone” [3]. This behaviour shows, according to Strand Consult (2012), similarities to the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, a term coined by psychologists after a hostage drama in Stockholm, where “hostages reacted to the psychological pressure they were experiencing, by defending the people that had held them hostage for 6 days” [3]. For almost every deficiency the iPhone has, there is an excuse from its devotees, e.g. “Apple decides which applications you can install on the phone: This is good, because Apple thereby ensures that you do not get inferior programs on your phone” or “The quality of the phone is poor, calls are often interrupted and network coverage is poor: It is a good phone, these problems are due to the operators’ networks and not the phone” [3]. From a comment on a website about Apple the following comment was found, which shall depict the relationship between producer and client: “Yesterday I was taking with one of the owners of the company I work for. Her Apple laptop had crashed, and wouldn’t even start. Her question? ‘What did I do to cause this?’” [2].

Another sign of the successful memeplex Apple Macintosh caused is that users of the Apple phone always refer to their device as ‘iPhone’, instead of (like with any other brand) just ‘phone’.

A really novel aspect is, though, how the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was perceived by Apple’s clients. A wave of mourning went around the world. Never before was a loss of a boss of a big company so much mourned than Steve Jobs’.

Stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of this series, including urban legends and the Mayan Apocalypse.

Sources:

[1] Blackmore, Susan 1999: The Meme Machine. Oxford: University Press.

[2] Kingsley-Hughes, Adrian
2009 ‘Are iPhone users suffering from ‘Stockholm Syndrome”, online resource: <http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/are-iphone-users-suffering-from-stockholm-syndrome/6420>, retrieved: February 21st 2013.

[3] Strand Consults
2012 ‘How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?’, online resource: <http://www.strandreports.com/sw4031.asp>, retrieved: February 21st 2013.

About André Savetier

Since 2011 André Savetier is actively working as a music journalist with an expertise on contemporary new wave music phenomena.
His scientific specialization is anthropology of music and anthropology of popular culture. Savetier remains intrigued by the interplay between the aforementioned social phenomena, the told (and untold) legends of music and its roots.

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