The Church of Apple

This is scary but not really surprising.  The Globe and Mail yesterday posted an article about the similarities between Apple fanboys and religious people. Anecdotally nobody should be surprised by this.  Fanboys (and fangirls) will line up for hours to get the newest iGadget, even if they already have the previous one in their pocket. Like fundamentalist religious people, you can’t tell an Apple fanboy that there is anything flawed about their device – that’s heresy! With my Cognitive Science background, I found this tidbit really interesting:

They took their theory to neuroscientists who completed MRI scans of Apple fanatics’ brains. “The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain [of fanboys] as religious imagery does in people of faith,” Mr. Riley and Mr. Boome write.

Ok, so I’m picking on Apple a bit, as the article did. You can substitute other company names or technology as a whole. I was a borderline Apple fanboy for a couple of years – loved Mac computers – but the iPhone has never impressed me and I still see the iPad as useless. I’m now a BlackBerry fanboy (aka Crackberry) for sure, so that would be more relevant for me to substitute in there. I can somewhat accept criticisms of BlackBerry, although usually in the form of “yeah, but this is why it isn’t that big of a problem…” If I leave the house without my BlackBerry, I often feel somewhat incomplete. I have done BB fasts, though, usually as an all-Internet fast for a day, and I intend to make that more of a habit as a way to combat this type of technological worship.

On a different note, you can substitute a lot of other things that are considered secular. In a pluralism class I took last term, it came up a few times that it is wrong to not speak of secularism, or rationalism, or consumerism as a type of religion. The only difference is that it is worshiping something that they don’t bother calling divine, but the actions towards it are often the same. Religious people go on pilgrimages to a cathedral or a mosque or a synagogue or a temple. The Church of Apple goes on pilgrimages to the Apple Store on launch day of the newest toy. Religious people try to convince people of other religions why theirs is better. The Church of Apple argues why they are better than the competition (I confess I do this for BlackBerry too). The Church of Apple waits for the newest Steve Jobs speech announcing the newest iGadget, just as religious people anxiously await the word of their divine being through their prophet. I’m sure there are other comparisons I’m missing, so sound off in the comments with more of the eerie similarities.

So what do you think of this whole idea? Is Apple (and other companies) a sort of religion? If you’re a Christian, how do you make sure your use of technology or other consumer goods doesn’t replace the centrality of Jesus in your life?

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.