There’s a very odd article over here entitled, “Putting the “lust” back into a performance PC.”
No, he isn’t megakinky.
The premise of the article is “Owning a hot PC doesn’t make me feel as good as owning a hot car! Where’s the admiration, the envy, the jealousy, the women? This is terrible, we must do something about this!”
He has a few definitely dubious ideas on how to fix this situation. One is transmitting the awesome technical specs of one’s machine during networked gameplay, which I suspect would be technicalese for “Please gang up on me and blow me away.”
He also has faith that if a notebook would just act like the Starship Enterprise does during Red Alert, it would be the next best thing to a ‘Vette. Personally, I think unleashing that in a public place would get you attention, too, the psychiatric kind.
I could rant awhile about the simple truth that things do not and cannot make you desirable except to the stupendously shallow, but I’ve walked down that block before.
No, we need to get to the core of the matter. Can a PC ever be a general status symbol, and if not, why not?
Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder
To be admired, there must be admirers who admire the whatever you have. If they don’t admire, you don’t get admired.
It is others who determine a status symbol.
Imagine two people building a house. Both want to have a house that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. One puts in a lot of solar panels. The other puts in a teeny, tiny nuclear reactor.
Which person is going to be more admired by the neighbors?
By most definitions of what makes a status symbol, it ought to be the one with the nuclear reactor. It would be certainly be a whole lot harder to get and cost a whole lot more money and effort to get.
Do you think it would work out that way, even if the nuclear guy offered free power to all his neighbors? No? Why not? Oh, the neighbors would most likely find the reactor more deadly than desirable, whether true or not?
Let’s assume the guy splitting atoms lives in a neighborhood where all the neighbors are nuclear physicists and engineers. Think the neighborhood reaction might be a bit different?
Then again, how many neighborhoods have that kind of population?
This is one of the major problems the status symbol PC faces. Most people don’t love PCs as much as big diamond rings or fast cars or exclusive mansions, or even like small diamond rings or regular cars and houses. The average person finds his PC somewhere in between a useful tool and a necessary evil, not an intrinsic good.
Yes, a relative few do, but expecting everyone in your neighborhood to love them is like expecting all your neighbors to be nuclear physicists and engineers.
Add to that the truth that status symbols are merely that, symbols meant to signal a good deal more than the item itself. Some signals are stronger than others. Some can carry an impression all by themselves, most can’t.
For instance, if you visit me for the first time at my palatial estate with two jets in the garage, and I come out to greet you in clothes that look like charity rejects, you’ll think me odd, but not poor.
On the other hand, if you first met me on the street wearing my charity rejects and a real Rolex, your initial impression would likely be, “Where did he steal the watch?” even if I had a cup of Starbucks in my hand. 🙂
Unless you encrust your notebook with diamonds like the Tulip E-Go Diamond, it’s awfully hard to get a PC up to the price of the average car. There’s just not much to them, and most of what there is is, has to be mass-produced. No one can handcraft a CPU.
Anyone making decent (by Western standards) money and sufficient desire can buy a “luxury” PC. That means they aren’t luxuries. Most people don’t buy luxury PCs because they couldn’t possibly afford one, they don’t buy because they’re unwilling to pay more for something they don’t value very much.
This has been demonstrated quite well by the Macintosh. Over the years, I’ve been told many times by Mac users, “Oh, you’re just jealous of me.” These people really convince themselves that buying a Mac is like buying into an elite, and a bunch of Mac owners certainly tell each other that. Unfortunately for them, no one outside the bubble does.
The Unspoken Assumption
The article keeps talking about “hot cars” and the “rewards” of having one. Such words have a connotation that all living and more than a few dead males make, and it’s hormonal.
If there is anything more pathetic than thinking a hot car alone will get you hot babes, it’s thinking that a hot computer made to look like a hot car is going to get you hot babes.
You’ve seen it in the movies a hundred times. Our hero eyes a gorgeous woman in a bar, and when she looks back with tentative interest, he pulls out his laptop, starts playing a game, and she comes running.
You haven’t seen it even once? Well, maybe that’s only because laptops don’t go into “battle mode” with red lights flashing yet. I’m sure it would work then.
I think that would make a great scene in a movie, except the only running I can see the lady doing is running away.
I don’t think the world is technically advanced enough for this geek fantasy. Yes, someday, this will work. That day will come when we can build hot robotic babes specifically programmed to override all other programming and go wild over this.
But not until then.
Some things just aren’t meant to be loved that much.