Elves use Macs, dwarves use Linux…

And hobbits run Windows. Let me explain…

Of all these Standard Fantasy Setting races, only the hobbits resemble real people living in a real society, with a real economy. it is revealed that they live in a bubble – protected from evil by the Rangers. So protected, that they barely know there is evil out there. In this sense, they are like sheltered children. But in every other sense, they are the only real adults in Middle Earth.

Tolkien’s Elves are another matter. They’re not quite believable – too sketchily drawn. They must have an economy of some sort, as they produce all the high quality boutique goods which they consume. But we’re never shown how it works. The reader isn’t supposed to care how it works. And that’s exactly what the elves are about. They’re magic. You’re not supposed to know how it works. You’re not supposed to care.

Do you have a Mac? Do you know how it works? Do you even care? Most Mac users don’t. It just works, and they’re happy. Mac users are elves. (Don’t look too closely into where Apple products come from. Seriously, don’t. It’s upsetting.)

There is something about the Apple aesthetic that reminds me of the Church of Scientology. Or maybe the shopping mall utopia of Logan’s Run. There. I said it. I will say no more on that subject.

Now the dwarves. Dwarves are hands-on people. They don’t trust elven workmanship because they don’t know how it works. They trust their own stuff, because they know how it works. They know how it’s made. Dwarves lack polish. They do not lack an audit trail. What they know, they know for sure.

There is a risk to this kind of hands-on empiricism. Sometimes they dig too deep and waken something they can’t handle. So it is with Linux hackers. There is no such thing as a casual Linux user. And there is nothing casual about dwarves.

The dwarves are believable, but a bit unrelatable. They are an ancient archetype: Hephaestus, the Greek nerd deity who made stuff that had great power but no style, and got cuckolded by his wife. Hephaestus never got respect from the other Olympians… they said he was too lame. They kept his neat gadgets though. Likewise the dwarves just never get the respect they feel they deserve, especially not from those hoity-toity elves.

Linux users are dwarves. They will put up with a lot of hassle just for the privilege of being in total control of what is theirs. And if they seem prickly, it’s because they feel misunderstood.

The hobbits are farmers and craftsmen and cottage industrialists. They make stuff they actually need, and they make it all good enough. They make food, for instance. (Where exactly do elves and dwarves shop for groceries?) Sometimes hobbits get into silly mean girl social drama. But aside from that, they’re very practical. Their only serious limitation is a lack of curiosity. This is why they need protecting.

Windows users are hobbits. Windows users follow the herd, but not that herd. The effete, pretty Macs are overpriced, and they’re not going to spend extra money just to status signal. Desktop Linux is too fussy – if they even know it exists. Windows is good enough. It’s graceless, but it gets the job done. Besides, everybody they know uses Windows. But someone has to protect these good folk from viruses.

Windows users don’t care how their systems work unless there’s a problem – and maybe not even then. It’s not respectable to care about that. People who are too interested in Windows internals are presumed to be up to no good. Hobbits feel this way about every aspect of the physical universe. There are no hobbit scientists, and never will be.

Android users can be either hobbits or dwarves, depending on what apps they have installed. A hobbit will have Facebook and TikTok on his phone. A dwarf will not. He’ll have some custom app that he sideloaded. And his phone will probably be rooted.

This is why there are no sequels to Lord of The Rings: there’s nowhere for any of these races to go. The hobbits and elves are incapable of progress or adventure, thus incapable of driving a plot. And if the dwarves have their way, they’ll complete Saruman’s industrialization program. Tolkien wouldn’t have wanted to write that. (Bring back Sauron? That’s how lame sequels get made. Another big bad? Sauron’s a hard act to follow.)

In Middle Earth, none of these races rules. The elves are in decline, for some unfathomable reason. The dwarves aren’t interested in politics. The hobbits are only interested in local politics. Dark forces are organizing, seeking an ultimate power that got dropped somewhere like a long pass that didn’t connect.

And no one – not even Sauron – quite knows what is going on.

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