Thursday, October 10, 2013

Do You Feel at Home Using Your Windows / OS X?

We are all familiar with that warm cosy feel we have when we get home from work. It is not only release from the job fatigue that makes us feel so good. It is something else, something more valuable than the well deserved rest.

Être chez soi

It's not a sheer coincidence that French people say être chez soi in order to express the idea of being at home. Being at home for them literally means being at oneself (which is, of course, grammatically incorrect English). Taken literally, this expression is a spatial metaphor indicating a paradoxical situation where something contains itself. This something has returned to itself and now stays in itself. Simply put, it is back where it belongs - at its home. 

Being at oneself is not the same as being on one's own. Being on one's own means that we are left alone. It means that we miss something or more precisely, someone. It means that we are cut off from the community and our fellows.

On the contrary, being at oneself   has to do with the authentic community. You have to be an independent person in order to be able to have a true relationship. And being at oneself captures the very essence of that personal autonomy. When you are autonomous, you hold on to yourself. You stand up for yourself. It is you who determine your own actions and not something else outside you or someone else different from you. Simply put, you are in yourself.

So, do you feel at home using your Windows / OS X?

So, do you feel at home using your Windows / OS X? What a question! Since when is the operating system a home-like structure? As far as a normal user is concerned, since forever. Windows and OS X have a user folder and a desktop. And that is your home, the virtual one though. How come? Your user folder and your desktop environment is a space of a certain kind. You can navigate through that space, just like you can walk through your home. This space is delimited by other users' accounts, just like the walls of your apartment delimit your living space from neighboring flats. Ideally, others can enter in your user space only on your own accord. But a cracker (falsely identified as hacker) can also break into your account, just like a burglar can break into your house.

So, do you feel at home using your Windows / OS X? Do you have that warm cosy feel conveyed by the words "feels like home"? The apparent answer could be, yes. Because Microsoft and Apple would do everything in order for you  not be on your own. They will offer you a customer support, social networks and similar useful services. They will try to take you by the hand and guide you all the way through your virtual life. For them, it is imperative that you do not feel on your own! 

But why? The obvious answer is that they are competing hard against each other in order to win the customers.

A less obvious answer would be the following: they are trying to prevent you from being on your own because they don't want you to think for yourself. They are constantly lending you a hand because they want your permanent infancy. And infancy means lack of integrity and lack of control over one's own life. So, it is your free thinking that is at stake and not their free competition!

In the world of Microsoft and Apple, you are no more than a customer. And the customer is not a friend. Customer is, well, customer. Even when they call him a user. Even then, he must pay for the services. And when he does not have any money left, it's over.

Back to the French expression. Être chez soi. Being at oneself. To contain oneself. To be in oneself. This little phrase captures the essence of what it means to be at home. That said, "living" inside Windows / OS X gives us the exact opposite. Using this operative systems, you are out of yourself. You feel like stranger at your own home. And the home itself feels like it belongs to somebody else. Even though it was you who bought it. You simply know that you can't control the thing.

Symptom "user"

Maybe it is not a sheer coincidence that a folder where your files live is called user folder in Windows and OS X. They can't simply call it what it is - customer folder. It's too rude in our contemporary world. But they can't either call it what it is not - home folder. As Freud taught us, anytime a psyche is caught in the conflict between reality and desire, it must construct a symptom - an intermediate solution of the conflict at hand. The term user is the perfect compromise between being at home (desire) and being a customer (reality).

Try GNU/Linux

Maybe It is not a sheer coincidence that a folder where your files live is called home folder under GNU/Linux system. GNU/Linux is the free operating system developed by the community of fellow programmers. The leading idea is to be in control of the software, to empower users. We will surely talk more about GNU/Linux in future posts. In the meantime, try it. Maybe you'll finally have that cosy warm feeling that you've been longing for.

1 comment:

  1. Yo Darko,

    Similar thoughts we tried to address with the 120days of buntu project ;)