Consumer Tech is the New Religion

Asking Forgiveness

We ask for forgiveness for having neglected our children by spending too much time on Facebook or posting a nasty comment on Tumblr. We pray that we’ll be blessed with better lighting for our next Instagram photo of an especially good tuna sandwich or perhaps a stranger’s overwhelmingly cute puppy (oh, the devotees it will generate!).

Our churches are Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Play, and Amazon’s Prime media streaming services—including their holy app stores. To discourage dissenters from leaving the flock, our Bibles are often unreadable at a different church. Netflix and Spotify are two major exceptions, translating their scripture into every language under the sun.

Step Aside, Dawkins & Warren

There seem to be more religious wars within modern consumer tech than there are within religion itself. Richard Dawkins and Rick Warren have nothing on Larry Page and Tim Cook. What began as the “PC vs. Mac” platform war in the 1980s, punctuated by Betamax versus VHS, has evolved into Xbox versus Playstation, Android versus iOS, and Tesla Motors versus Toyota. Samsung, Sony, Google, Microsoft, and Apple take shots at each other on a regular basis. It’s Hatfield messin’ with McCoy—only this time they’re armed with touchscreen tablets and password-protected internet routers.

Sometimes these religious wars are monotheistic, like Apple’s closed ecosystem that offers both hardware and software from a single vendor. Other companies ask us to worship many gods, like the availability of Microsoft’s Windows and Google’s Android from a number of hardware manufacturers. Often, the battles are less proprietary and more philosophical, such as hydrogen-powered cars versus battery electric vehicles (kind of like Greek Mythology).

Some in the academic community agree. In 2010, ABC News reported that Heidi Campbell, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, co-wrote a paper “exploring the religious myths and metaphors surrounding Apple.” “[The company] could offer a religious-like experience. It could basically perform the same role in people’s lives that being part of a religious community could,” she wrote.

Shockingly Abusive

The vitriol and defensiveness in many factions of these religious schisms has become shockingly brazen and, sometimes, even abusive. It’s as if someone took the Lord’s name in vain—or peed in your Cheerios. The utterance of “Apple sucks” or “electric cars are stupid” is bad enough; the response is typically worse. Members of the choir routinely compete for “Most likely to have not graduated middle school.”

“The Apple CEO was able to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope.”
— Christianity Today, January 2011.

But we’ve considered only the religions themselves, not the priests at the pulpit. PC versus Mac, was, of course, Bill Gates versus Steve Jobs. Electric cars versus the established Luddites of Detroit is obviously Elon Musk versus…well, the established Luddites of Detroit (this one is a true David and Goliath metaphor). In terms of building their congregations, it could even be argued that Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg are running competing megachurches.

The Gospel of Steve

“Steve Jobs, one of the most powerful people of our day, has offered a secular ‘gospel’ to our culture,” wrote evangelical Christian author Sean McDowell when Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO for health reasons in 2011. Even Christianity Today in January of 2011, in an article entitled “The Gospel of Steve Jobs,” wrote, “The Apple CEO was able to articulate a perfectly secular form of hope.”

The adoration bestowed upon the top executives of modern technology companies is like that of Southern Baptist parishioners during the rapture. We worship at the feet of charismatic pontiffs like Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, and Richard Branson. They’re our silicon saviors, and the only thing that shakes our faith in them is a dead battery or too many casserole recipes in our newsfeed.

When it comes to mobile gadgets and streaming media, some of us even worship two gods—like a household with one Catholic and one Jewish parent that recognizes both Christmas and Hanukkah. These odd and overly open-minded people may sport both an iPhone 8 Plus from Apple and a Galaxy 7 from Samsung. They often do weird things like own a Galaxy Note smartphone and an iPad at the same time (!). Hasn’t anyone told them that this is, basically, against the rules?

Digital Dogma

In the end, the best digital dogma is the one that suits your lifestyle, budget, and personal beliefs. Or the one with the coolest logo. But it’s your money going into the offering plate; worship with the company or platform of your choice.

But what about the sinners? You know, the gluttonous people at the airport who hog two outlets to recharge their devices, or the rude fanboys who leave flippantly disparaging comments on your carefully articulated Facebook posts?

There’s a special place in hell for them. A place where there’s a complete lack of extended warranties and app updates, where the only stores are Circuit City and RadioShack, and where they’re given only a PalmPilot PDA and a CalicoVision game console.

For eternity.

Gooey Rabinski

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.


It’s 2017: Stop Your Whining

Remember the old days, when you would struggle with Windows 95 or Windows 2000 to get it to properly load, say, a printer driver? It’s probably not overly difficult to recall the love/hate relationship you had with Redmond’s Richest (Microsoft)….

This schizophrenic emotional state was elicited by the relative convenience afforded by use of the Windows graphical user interface—paired with the frustration of abundant software bugs and things like plug-n-play that certainly plugged, but often didn’t play.

Use of Microsoft’s products and services, specifically its operating system and the applications found in MS Office, were a double-edged sword. On one side was convenience, universal file formats, and user-friendly operation. On the other was buggy software, cumbersome tech support, and almost daily frustration.

Welcome to 2017. We’re now officially 17 percent of the way into the 21st century. No longer do we marvel over smartphones and digital cameras. No longer do we say “Wow, that 60-inch flat panel sure is amazing.” No longer do we dream of a future of electric cars, smartwatches, thin tablets, and free high-resolution video conferencing.

We’re home, Toto. All that cool stuff is here. And much of it is either free or very cheap.

Who Could Have Imagined?

After all, who could have imagined free video conferencing (using services like FaceTime and Skype)? When I was a kid, I recall my CPA-wannabe Granma Rabinski always cutting short long-distance phone calls because of the expense and metered billing rate. We now conduct high-definition video conferences—of any length and with folks around the world—at no cost and on a regular basis.

But our technical frustration remains. Spurred by relentless online ads and spotty wi-fi, our frustration seemingly won’t abate. We love the Google search engine and the magic of Twitter. But is my smartphone too hot? Why doesn’t my internet router work? It did yesterday. And why can’t I remember the password for my secret email account?

When thinking recently about our fickle use of technology, I realized something: Google has replaced Microsoft as our evil bipolar technological stepmother.


The Silicon Valley giant, whose name has become synonymous with looking up stuff on the internet, is something that we think we can’t live without—but that we also curse on a regular basis. I’d hate for someone to steal or damage my Chromecast media streaming dongles. Yet, I want to throw them across the room when they drop the Pandora stream for the fifth time in two hours.

Jack of All Trades

Alyce Lomax at The Motley Fool, way back in 2006, described Google as a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” One blogger wrote Apple vs. Google: Where Focus Meets Buckshot in September 2014, pointing out how Google loves to experiment with a variety of products and services.

From “smart” contact lenses to self-driving cars to huge balloons intended to bring internet access to undeveloped nations (and, with it, ads from the company’s search engine and other services), Google has its hand in a very wide range of products.It’s almost as if the iconic company doesn’t trust its ability to succeed in any one area. Maybe it’s so keenly aware of the fierce competition and incredible challenges of the technology that the titan gets involved in dozens of product areas, with the hope that a few will actually pan out.

But everything is relative. Our love/hate relationship with Microsoft from yesteryear was based on the pervasive nature of the company’s operating system and software. Windows was everywhere. Very few people used Macs back then (hell, there wasn’t even a version of Microsoft Office for the Mac, so you can barely blame them). It was all MS Word and Excel and Windows XP. All of which sported some pretty serious bugs. We felt trapped.

Today is Different

Today it’s a bit different. I was recently frustrated when using Google’s URL shortening service for links within tweets. I found that, somehow, I had violated Google’s terms of service and it invalidated one of my URLs, giving my tweet, going out to hundreds of thousands of users, a dead link.

Fine, I thought, and switched back to Bitly. Frustrated by the amount of paid links at the top of the results page for Google’s search engine, I switched to Duck Duck Go. Not happy with my sluggish, stuttering Nexus 7 tablet running Google’s Android mobile OS, I switched back to an iPad from Apple.


The difference today is that there’s options. Back in the day, those frustrated by Microsoft Word or PowerPoint had few alternatives, none of which were ubiquitous enough to make the switch feel practical or intelligent. But if you’re fed up with your Nexus tablet or your Android-powered smartphone gets wonky, there’s ready alternatives from companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Blackberry.

Unlike Microsoft’s stranglehold on us back in the 1990s, Google can no longer hold us captive.

So welcome to 2017 and the age of tech options. Don’t like the ad-laced Google search engine? Switch to Bing or Duck Duck Go. Don’t like the URL shortener? Use Bitly or TinyURL. Getting frustrated by your Android smartphone or tablet? Give Apple or Nokia a try. Don’t like Google Maps? Try AOL’s MapQuest or Apple Maps. Don’t like Gmail? Try Outlook or Yahoo (or the messaging built into Facebook or LinkedIn). Not digging Google+? Try Facebook (ok, every human already did that…sorry).

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2017 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.