Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why do these people call me a Fanboy? Why are they so angry?

So, I'm a fanboy. Apparently. At least that is what’s implied by countless postings spread across the techweb like some bad case of Apple-directed Tourette’s. Oft times these commenters render the term as "fanboi" in the peculiar hope that an oh-so-clever misspelling will cut deeper into my sensitive feelings. Odd, don’t you think? Not only do these folks clearly and wildly underestimate the thickness of my skin, but they completely fail to realize that, at this point in my life, calling me a boy of any sort merits but a grateful hug. Besides, as a decorated veteran of the First, Second and Third PC Wars I've seen real nastiness--of the "We're taking your Mac away from ignorant Mac person, you!" sort--and trust me, this Android vs iOS thing is merely a panty-clad pillow fight in comparison.

Who are these people, anyway?

Still, I just don’t get these curmudgeonly sorts who can't even purchase a piece of consumer electronics without disparaging those who happily make another choice. Can there really be that many people who just can't abide others having a good time? I mean, here's a video of a thousand people lined up in front of an Apple Store waiting for the Next Big Thing, and what I see is a party; all smiling faces and camaraderie; a bright spot of expectation and fun in a tech world that too often misses the entire point of consumer electronics--to have fun! Isn't that wonderful!?

Yet my screen is soon filled with spittle-flecked diatribes (If, that is, you’ve enabled the Internet Spittle Transport Protocol) impugning the character, intelligence and motivations of these people, summed up in that most hideous of all insults: Fanboys! To document these aspersions, there usually follows some discussion of lemming behavior, pointless usage of "Crapple," "MacSheeple," etc., a gratuitous insult thrown, for some reason, at Steve Jobs, a misinformed mention of sweatshop labor, and finally, a breathless, run-on sentence based primarily upon badly misunderstood history declaring that Apple is overpriced, overrated, a walled garden,  purely evil, doomed to extinction in the face of the inevitable repeat of last century's desktop market wars and the strong implication that anyone who feels otherwise is fool and a loser. Or, in the vernacular, a fanboy.

Mind you, much of this anti-Apple ankle biting arrives in the comment section of sites and blogs that are Apple centric to begin with and which exist only for the pleasure and education of the Apple community. It is oddly ironic that so many people who clearly hate Apple and its fans will haunt Apple oriented publications for the sole purpose of condemning Apple fans of, get this, fanaticism! It is here we find that Apple fanboys are just not good people. "I might have a Mac if it weren't for those smug, arrogant, holier-than-thou fanboys,” goes the accusation, generally expressed in a smug, arrogant and holier-than-thou cloud of steaming pique. Which, by all the laws of highly reflective surfaces, sort of identifies them as fanboys themselves, now doesn’t it?

For the sake of argument...

Are these real people, anyway? The nature of the internet puts a poster outside of physical punching distance, and consequently breeds in a sort of pathetic false courage, imbuing them with the online demeanor of a dyspeptic badger when in person they would more likely exhibit the dauntless courage of Bambi. So all this stridency might actually be just blowing out the testosterone circuits in a sad piece of compensatory drama. Maybe I should show a little compassion.


Hey, I’ll discuss Mac vs. PC, Android vs. iPhone with you all day long and have a good time in the process because I really like to talk about this Apple stuff. It’s fun. But this kind of enthusiasm is just too much for the delicate sensibilities of some. Folks, enthusiasm means finding happiness and joy in the world around you. The world needs more of this, not less, and if you (not to be pointing fingers here) can't tolerate some honest to God joy in those around you I would advise you to seek out some of those prescription drugs on TV that promise you either happiness or four-hour erections. As if there’s a difference. Or at least back away from the comments section, willya?

And your point is?

So, to pose my rhetorical questions  to the fanboy bashers: What, exactly, do you want from us? An apology? For what? For liking something? Would you be satisfied if we were less happy? Or do you really just demand that we agree with you that your choices are the best ones and our choices are crap? Is that it? Is that what you want? To be right? To have everyone agree that you’re right? About a phone? Is that what this is all about? Your diseased ego?

Well, agreeing with you about everything would certainly cut down on the contention quotient but what's the point? Are your precious sensibilities so delicate that the fun we fanboys have in our little neck of these technology woods bruises your self confidence and the only way you can feel better about yourself is to lash out at some folks who just happen to like different things than you? You should know that's a position most people outgrow by about the age of nine.

But it ain’t going to happen anyway, Bucko. I'm an Apple Fanboy and suspect that I will remain so for a long, long time. And why not? Apple is the most interesting company in the technology sphere; the company that essentially invented the personal computer, revolutionized the PC market again with the first mass market GUI, remade the music industry, turned the phone industry on its ear, and, with the iPad, created the first significantly new computer product market in over a decade. Apple always has something fun coming out. Why not enjoy it?

As for the charges that fanboys would buy anything Steve Jobs commanded us to buy: Maybe. But Steve Jobs has been named the best CEO in America by Forbes, Fortune, Barron's, Businessweek, the Economist, Time, Marketwatch and every other business magazine I can think of. Doesn't it make sense that I should pay attention to this guy? Doesn't a high level of respect seem appropriate here? And the products themselves are so regularly at the top of consumer satisfaction surveys that at least a bit of product loyalty seems not only justifiable but downright unavoidable.

Oh, and Mac people tend to be really nice. And enthusiastic. I know lots of them.

Get over it

So in spite of your disdain for enthusiastic people, I shall continue promoting Apple and its products and I shall have a thoroughly splendid time doing so. For if I hadn't been such a fanboy for all these years there would today be a crowd of friends, family and businesses that otherwise might not have switched to Apple products--and they would have been less happy for it. And you might as well stop calling us a cult or a religion because we are neither. We are just a quarter of a billion people who know what we like and who enjoy talking about it.

Now look, I don’t care if you like Androids or Xooms or whatever non-Apple product you choose and if you wish to express your delight and satisfaction with these choices then I’m deliriously happy for you and I hope that golden rays of light and joy rain down upon you for all eternity. In return, I don’t think it unreasonable that you grant me a little respect. If, on the other hand, you’re the sort of person who would rather avoid all that tedious mucking around with reason and civility and instead just leap to the shorthand of personal insult, go right ahead and call me a fanboy.

I kinda like it.


  1. The return of Del Miller is cause for celebration ... I hope I have some of that single malt left :-)