A darkness has fallen over the world of tech blogs. On Friday, Rush Limbaugh focused his baleful attention on a new cultural battlefield, one in which Apple fanboys joust with the Google faithful. In the midst of endless flamewars, Limbaugh has been vouchsafed a great truth: Apple advocates are just like beleaguered Republicans.
[T]he online tech bloggers come down and are divided like the mainstream news guys are between Republicans and Democrats... I would venture to say that nine out of 10 bloggers writing high-tech hate Apple. Apple is the equivalent of the Republicans on these blogs, and Google, Android, and Samsung are the equivalent of the Democrats. They're perfect, they can't do anything wrong, they're ideal, and everybody hates Apple.
Media bias alert!
I'm betting that self-described "student of the media" Limbaugh found his "nine-out-of-ten" stat the same place he finds everything else -- in other words, he pulled it out of his ass. His stark dichotomy of tech-blogger bias does a great disservice to tech media diversity. Nine-out-of-ten tech bloggers may well be white and male, but they're equal opportunity haters, willing to trash Google as soon as praise it. Everybody despises everybody. (It's a sad statement on how far Microsoft has fallen that they don't even get a mention in Limbaugh's analysis.) And Limbaugh has obviously never said a critical word about Apple on air, or he would know that the notion that "everybody hates Apple" does not describe how one's inbox looks a few seconds after the unwary critic dares to say a discouraging word about anything that begins with a lower-case I.
But no matter -- Rush has a bigger point to make. Though he conceded that the vast majority of all tech bloggers, regardless of their allegiance are likely Democrats who consider Limbaugh an "old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy, kook, hayseed, racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe," he hopes that Apple bloggers, at least, can learn from their experience of overt media bias. "It would be a great teachable moment," he said.
I would love to just be able to get to one of these guys say, "Now, I want you to do something. The way you see these guys propping up Samsung and Google and Android and the way these guys are ripping Apple to shreds, would you try to see that in the mainstream media? Would you open your eyes and see what's going on in the mainstream media? Would you try to open your eyes and see that in the mainstream media, the Republican Party is Apple, and the Democrat Party is Samsung, Google, and Android."
Rush Limbaugh is hoping that once Apple bloggers realize how the rest of the tech media is unfairly biased against them, they will understand that the same is true of mainstream media against Republicans. They will see how Fox News is unfairly maligned, and House Republicans actually make sense.
Even Rush is willing to concede that any kind of mass tech blogger epiphany is unlikely to happen, because all these young hipsters already lean left. But he can dream, can't he? There's also no doubting the inspired brilliance of Limbaugh's analysis. Comparing Apple to the Republican party forces the kind of cognitive dissonance that makes one question the fabric of reality and shakes one's understanding of one's place in the universe. But when you think about it, "Think Different" is a pretty good way to describe Michele Bachmann.
I will also grant Limbaugh one nugget of truth. Apple's top-down, control-everything-about-the-interface, restrict-user-choice in line with the great Jobsian vision has often been contrasted with the everything goes, configure-it-however-you-want-it Android ethos pushed by Google. In this sense Apple's politics, stylistically, align with the familiar hard-core conservative Republicanism that treats any deviation from the party line as anathema. Whereas the Android free-for-all feels more big tent Democratic. I went shopping for a phone for my son on Sunday. The Android world is definitely multicultural in all its confounding, scary diversity. The Apple world is as monolithic as an Iowa Republican caucus meeting.
But, but, but, typically, Limbaugh's analysis is far too simplistic. He's missing the real political action! Forget about Apple and Google fanboys. That's a sideshow. Right now, the heat of the day is increasingly being generated by the clash between tech bloggers who are raising questions about how the tech economy is contributing to class stratification and inequality, and the tech bloggers who serve as little more than trade-press megaphones for industry propaganda.
The politics of libertarian utopianism -- give us our unchained Silicon Valley, free of any incumbent-protecting regulation, or give us death! -- are getting huge play all over the Internet. The critics occupy a much smaller space. To borrow Limbaugh's analysis, it's the people who are calling foul on this-app-will-change-the-world rhetorical bullshit who are the biased-against Republicans, the beleaguered minority in danger of being crushed by the mainstream.
Follow the money, Rush! The vast amounts of tech advertising money that prop up the tech blogosphere have created a warm and welcoming space for voices that support Silicon Valley capitalist idealism. In this universe, Ayn Rand is the 800-pound gorilla and Karl Marx is a gnat buzzing around in Mark Zuckerberg's ear.
I hope everybody follows Rush Limbaugh's advice. The sooner we all see how the majority of tech coverage serves the interests of tech capital, the sooner we will be able to throw off our chains of unthinking fan-boyism, no matter what brand is tattooed on our foreheads.