Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Euphemisms for the sacred name

Pious Jews will not pronounce the names of God. I have read, too, that the word bruin originated as a euphemism for bear, substituting a quality (the color brown) for the whole, whose name was too fearsome to be uttered. Nor, I learned this evening, will an Apple store employee utter the name of Steve Jobs.

I visited the store because my computer's flimsy power adapter had predictably cracked, frayed, and stopped working after less than two years, and I had to pay eighty-five dollars for a replacement. (Apple would have replaced the adapter free — had I paid $249 for an AppleCare protection plan. Technology is not the only area in which Jobs was a genius.)

This led to a civil discussion with the clerk who sold me the adapter. I pointed out what a smart business practice it was to sell shoddy — and proprietary — but necessary extras for expensive computers. As outrageous as it is to charge eighty-five dollars for a power cord, what choice do buyers have, once they've already spent hundreds or thousands for the machine? Apple computers take only Apple cords; the company would be a fool to make a sturdier cord and charge a reasonable price for it.

I mentioned Jobs to the clerk, a rueful tribute to the founder's business acumen as well as his engineering smarts. And the clerk replied: "As you said about our late boss ... "  The juxtaposition of the familiar our with the substitution of the epithet boss for Jobs' name was creepily similar to the way monotheistic religions refer to God.

One amusing note: The clerk asked where I'd heard that Apple power cords tend to break. "From a friend in a café," I said.

"A friend in a café," he repeated, his right eyebrow rising.  The irony of an Apple employee displaying disdain for café habitués was almost worth the eighty-five dollars I had to pay for a ten-dollar power cord. Count the number of Apple laptops the next time you visit a café. You'll see what I mean.
The number of hits I got searching for Apple and worship is scary. Any number of people, presumably some of them at least half-serious, detect parallels with religion in the fervor of Apple product worship. I do not find this reassuring.

In what ways is Apple/Steve Jobs worship like a religion? Like a cult? How is it different?

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Anonymous Ellicia said...

The fact that the question can be asked is spooky in itself.

April 11, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, it is. It's as if the functions formerly filled by religion have been divided and reallocated, with ritual and mass ecstasy going to Apple's consumer products.

April 11, 2013  

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