Apple: The New Religion?

Original Blog Post #1

In the age of modernity, society is becoming increasingly urban. With the constant technological advancements that flourish society at an unprecedented rate, it is evident that society is progressing towards a technologically dominant culture. Moreover, technology’s influence on society is especially evident when analyzing Apple. Also known as Macintosh, Apple Inc. is a multi-billion dollar technology company that has shown its dominance throughout the 21st century. From individuals lining up for hours just to get their hands on the latest Apple product to taking time out of their hectic day to live stream Apple’s keynotes, it is evident that Apple has a large community of devoted followers. The influence Apple has on its followers is so significant that many fans consider Apple to be their religion.

Looking beyond the standard relationship shared between consumers and businesses, Jennifer Porter (2009) contends that Apple enthusiasts find the sacred through the profane. Also known as implicit religion, the community formed by fans of popular culture, such as Apple Inc., grants the opportunity for each member to experience the divine (Porter, 2009). In this view, Apple doesn’t only provide consumers with the latest technological advancements, but Apple is a religion because they provide members with the opportunity to experience something bigger than themselves (Porter, 2009).

Edward Bailey further suggests that implicit religion has three nonexclusive features: commitments, integrating foci, and intensive concerns with extensive effects (2006). By Apple encompassing each of the characteristics, Apple was shown to be an example of implicit religion. In regards to commitments, Pui-Yan Lam (2001) contends that one of the ways Apple fans show devotion to their community is by taking pilgrimages to the Apple store hours, or even days, before the release of the latest Apple product. Similar to devotees of traditional forms of religion, Apple fanatics display their commitment to the brand by taking time out of their busy schedule to wait in line, anticipating the moment they get their hands on the advanced technology. By followers demonstrating enormous commitment to the brand, Apple possesses the commitment characteristic.

Fans anxiously wait for the release of the newest Apple gadget

The belief that Apple serves as a catalyst for fans to experience the divine explains why fans are so committed to Apple. As Porter contended, fandom communities are used as a vehicle for the experience of something deeply meaningful (2009). By believing that Apple has the ability to transcend individuals from the profane to the sacred, Mac enthusiasts place strong convictions onto Apple. One way Apple fanatics place focus on the brand is by making it a priority and accommodating every other activity around their commitment to Apple (Steinerts, 2012). For instance, fans take time off from work to travel from every corner of the world just to be in the presence of Steve Jobs, or his successor Tim Cook, when Apple announces their newest innovation (Steinerts, 2012). Committment to Apple leads fans to focus on the community due to the belief that Apple has the ability to revolutionize their well-being (Rosenwald, 2011). By doing so, Apple is shown to encompass Bailey’s second characteristic of implicit religion, integrating foci.

One of many the shrines commemorating Steve Jobs

When one’s commitment and focus goes beyond brief experiences and begins to influence individuals’ life, devotees will then experience intensive concerns with extensive effects (Porter, 2009). More specifically, when followers begin to internalize Apple more as a way of life and less as a technology company, they begin to have intense interest over their group membership. As a result, Apple would begin to transcend and have intensive effects on all aspects of the member’s life. The last feature of implicit religion Bailey mentions was especially evident in the Apple community when Steve Jobs passed away. When the tragic news broke, Apple enthusiasts could not believe that their prophet, the individual who formed the community they were so accustomed to, was no longer present (Rosenwald, 2011). The influence Steve Jobs had on his devotees was so significant that fans were compelled to make pilgrimages to Apple to pay their respects. By lighting candles on their iPad screen and making shrines out of apples in front of the Apple store, it demonstrated how devotees were affected by the news. One devoted follower even left a card that read, “You changed my life. I love you” (Rosenwald, 2011). These actions conducted by Apple fans portrays that Apple is more than just a platform to surf the web and listen to music. For many fans, Apple is also “a spiritual path to a future where technology and humans coexist in harmony” (Lam, 2001). By Apple having intense meaning to devotees, it is thereby shown that Apple has extensive effects over fans’ lives.

In summary, the parallels between religion and Apple are evident. More specifically, Apple exhibits three characteristics Bailey contends that implicit religion encompasses: commitments, integrating foci, and intensive concerns with extensive effects (2006). In order to understand how Apple is viewed as an implicit religion, one has to deviate from media’s perception of Apple as a trivial community. By looking at Apple Inc. with an impartial framework, Apple is shown to serve as a facilitator for devotees experience something deeply meaningful.

References

Bailey, Edward. (2006). Implicit Religion: an Introduction. London: Middlesex University Press.

Lam, Pui-Yan. (2001). May the Force of the Operating System be with You: Macintosh Devotion as Implicit Religion. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216772628?accountid=14771

Porter, Jennifer. (2009). Implicit Religion in Popular Culture: the Religion Dimensions of Fan Communities.

Rosenwald, Michael. (2011). Apple is a New Religion, and Steve Jobs was its High Priest.Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/apple-is-a-new-religion-and-steve-jobs-was-its-highpriest/2011/10/07/gIQAjYlgTL_story.html

Steinerts, Mariss. (2012). What are the Similarities Between Apple Users Behavior and Religious Practice? Latvia: Rigas Stradina University.

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