Thursday, December 24, 2009

You ARE your operating system (among other things)

Whenever you make a choice among products with similar functions, that choice spills over into the realm of social status.

Cars are a common example where social rank often goes with brand, and even within brand, by model, and even within model, by variations, upgrades, and badges. All signify some social status. I became acutely aware of this after purchasing a car that did not fit my image. It was uncomfortable for everyone.

Your operating system

You can see the social aspect tied to an operating system by looking at the Apple "I'm a Mac" campaign, and the weak Microsoft "I'm a PC" campaign response. A choice to run Linux or other operating system also carries connotations and shared group identity. In this sense, you are your operating system.

Your collection of choices

Whether conscious or not, decisions and choices about purchases you make, where choices are available, weave together part of your social tapestry. The schools you attend, where you work, your clothes, your car, where you live, and yes, your operating system. You are those things, at least socially.

The question is, in the context of a consumer society, can a choice be made without the attachment of social status?