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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Technology Tribalism


Dad is a "GM Man". Except for one small misadventure into a Ford station wagon in the mid-50's, he has never owned a non-GM car. Over the years, he has owned Buicks, Chevrolets, Pontiacs, and now an Oldsmobile (one of the last of that nameplate). I know other men of my father's generation who were "Ford Men" or "Chrysler Men". It isn't the same today. Sure, you have your Lexus owners, BMW zealots, and the Volvo for the learned among us. But these are not the "company men" of the last generation.

Today, cars seem to be less the center of technology loyalty than, say, computers. I'm a "Mac guy" while my brothers are "PC guys". Or maybe it is PDAs (Treo vs. Blackberry), or even game machines. We somehow have a desire to count ourselves into technology tribes. We need to feel the kinship with others like ourselves that reinforces our choices and our beliefs about both what we use and the (junk) that others mistakenly choose.

I suppose this is just a subset of the more common sort of affiliations that you see in sports teams, nationalities, or even countries. But I kinda miss the days of hearing someone say, "I'm a GM man." I am sure that GM misses those days even more than I do. When I was a kid, I was just sure that my dad knew what he was talking about. I thought that I, too, would be a GM Man (I now own a Chrysler and a Toyota. Sorry, Dad). The world was alright as long as you belonged to the right technology tribe. Boy, does that seem simple now. I know as I write this on my Mac (the best of all computers) that I would never pass such nonsense on to my son and daughter...who also owns Macs.

All American cars are basically Chevrolets.
Herb Caen

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