The names have changed, but the emotions remain the same

While doing some research for a story on why developers choose iOS over Android when they write apps, I came across this article:

From Cult of Mac: “Why Does Apple Inspire So Much Hate?”

Some people hate Apple. Other people hate people who hate Apple. Many of these haters have turned pro, leading to a lucrative “hater industrial complex.”

I know, because I’ve been the target of hate from both sides. I’m on the hate list of both the most extreme anti-Apple haters and pro-Apple haters.

Passion in technology, flame-wars, fanboyism and its discontents are nothing new. But in the past couple of years, something new has happened: The loudest, most insistent hate is now coming from the anti-Apple crowd, rather than the pro-Apple people.

Also, it needs to be said: Haters are rare. The vast majority of users — and the vast majority of bona fide fans — don’t fall into the “hater” category. But haters appear to be everywhere because they’re active and vocal, and their rants memorable.

The trolls make their living with blogs and even otherwise respectable publications by pushing the facts to an extreme, and combining personal attacks with mockery to excite emotion in the reader.

The reason this works economically is that the emotion and controversy is a win-win. When they attack you, a non-response is a win for the troll. They win the argument by forfeiture. Their readers see the attack, but not the rebuttal. They encounter the object of that attack exclusively through the context set up by the troll, so even the criticized article is presented in a way that routes around objective judgement.

But if you defend yourself or attack them back, that’s an even bigger win for the troll, because it drives traffic to their sites and posts and helps them build their “brand” and name recognition.

This is the same dynamic that has fueled the rise in obnoxious political talk radio and cable TV, and has ruined political discourse in the United States. Hate-filled, personal attack rants have a better “meme” quality than reasoned discourse. So the haters win.

I couldn’t have said this better myself. This also helps explain what I was trying to say before, in the “Experts Exchange” posting.

Seriously: IT’S A MACHINE. While you might love your Android device, I might think my iPhone is the best. Aren’t we intelligent people? If you see I have a Windows Phone, mightn’t you be curious as to why I chose it and not something else? Ask with an open mind, you might learn something!

This reminds me of the automotive brand loyalty wars in the 60s, when Chevy owners had to park near other Chevys–parking near a Ford was a sure way to ask for paint scratches and other cosmetic damage. And it wasn’t just Ford owners–everyone seemed to do it.

Is this “Lord of the Flies”? I’m pretty sure it’s not.


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