Sticks and stones

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Calling people names is the sort of thing we do in grade school. Why do some of us still think it’s funny? I sure don’t.

When I was in elementary school there was a poor kid whose last name was Melly. Although she didn’t have any particular body odor, some young wit invented the moniker “Smelly” for her, and it stuck for years: Whenever she boarded the bus or kids saw her in the hall, they’d yell out, “Hey, Smelly Melly.”

It was infantile and irritating, and I’m sure it demoralized Smelly Melly terribly. I remember seeing her cry at least once, and I’m sure there were times she went home and wept.

Some might say “But it’s what kids do.” To me, that’s a lame excuse. It’s bullying, it’s ostracizing, and it’s just generally rotten behavior. And to see people taking that behavior online is really depressing, considering that many of the worst perpetrators are adults—at least chronologically.

I am speaking, of course, about the endless variations of “Microsoft” and “Windows” that you see polluting public discussion areas related to the Mac:

  • Microshaft
  • Microsloth
  • Micro$oft
  • Winblows
  • Windoze

…And so on.

It’s not unique to Mac forums—hell, there are enough Windows users out there that hate Windows and Microsoft enough too, not to mention Linux users. But it is pervasive on Mac messaging boards in particular.

I’m not suggesting that Mac users are prone to making fun of Microsoft and Windows for the same reasons that kids call each other stupid names in the schoolyard. And I’m certainly not saying that Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates are crying themselves to sleep at night like I’m sure poor Miss Melly did. If they are, they can dab their tears away using $100 bills, I’m sure.

But I am saying that the constant litany of Microsoft-related nicknames wears on my soul after a while, as I’m sure it does on others. So my hope is that people who resort to that kind of name-calling will one day think twice about doing it. And that they’d grow up.

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