• Confessions of a Recovering Fanboy

    ...or how I learned to stop hating and love technology.


    Here on MacTalk there's been a bit of an upswing in recent months of Android fanboys registering accounts purely to pick fights with the community about iOS, the iPhone and the iPad. As a community we've defended our choices fervently and, in some cases, responded as typical Apple fanboys.

    Before I go any further, let me clarify exactly what I mean when I say "fanboy". According to that bastion of lexicography know as Urban Dictionary, a fanboy is:

    …an extreme fan or follower of a particular medium or concept, whether it be sports, television, film directors, video games (the most common usage), etc.

    Known for a complete lack of objectivity in relation to their preferred focus. Usually argue with circular logic that they refuse to acknowledge. Arguments or debates with such are usually futile. Every flaw is spun into semi-virtues and everything else, blown to comedic, complimentary proportions.
    And they:
    Insult/chastise others for using public forums to express an objective opinion, no matter how constructive or, respectful it may be. (Go ahead and admit that it's a good game/movie/etc. This fact and anything else will be promptly ignored in favor of cherry picking the negative, and beating you over the head with it.

    Tend to resort to petty annoyance replies when backed against the wall. Usually grammar attacks and non-replies.
    So when I say that I'm tired of fanboys, not just Android fanboys but all fanboys, please understand that it's the type of people outlined above that I'm talking about.

    In all honesty, its the irrational anger and vitriol over bits of plastic, glass, aluminium and silicon that I'm tired of more than anything else.

    Hi, my names Alec and I'm a recovering fanboy.

    Now for a number of years I was the worst kind of Apple fanboy, in fact I'm sure if you looked hard enough you could find some evidence of that on this very forum. I made it my goal to convert family, friends and coworkers regardless of what their needs actually were; a Mac was the answer to all their problems, end of story. I didn't give a crap about what they needed…all that mattered was that I spread the Cult of Mac and shout down anyone who disagreed.

    Before that, back when I was learning to program (and this is really embarrassing) I was a Java fanboy. Yes, a Java fanboy. Tell me Java was slow, clunky and ugly (let's face it, it was and still is) and I'd probably insult your mother and question your parentage.

    Even further back I was an anti-fanboy: instead of irrationally loving a company or product, I irrationally hated Microsoft and Bill Gates in particular. I used to do stupid shit like alter the Internet Explorer banners to say Internet Exploiter...see what I did there...huh? Huh?! Man I was a witty angry fifteen year old! I'd also include a smattering of "Bill Gates is the Devil" rhetoric accompanied by "amusing" images I'd made in my cracked version of PaintShop Pro on my pirated copy of Windows because "you don't give money to The Devil, dude!!"

    Fast forward sixteen years from Internet Exploiter (alright, it still makes me smile, but only a little) and I use IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari almost every day for different purposes. My primary computer is a MacBook Pro, but I lean heavily on a Windows 7 VM because it makes certain tasks easier. When I'm working from home I do so exclusively on a Windows 7 PC that I built myself because it lets me run 3 screens, has enough grunt to play games and run two full Cisco Unified Communications clusters while fitting into my budget way better than a Mac Pro could. I own a 360, PS3 and a Wii (even though it was, until very recently, unplugged and stuck in the bottom of a drawer). There are facets of Windows Phone and Android that I'd genuinely like to see brought to iOS and, above all else, I pay for all my software, sometimes twice, because developers are people too.

    Hopefully all of that serves to illustrate that when it comes to fanboys, I know what I'm talking about and why, as a recovering fanboy myself, I am sick to death of them and their crusade to belittle the choices of others.

    As Australians, we're fortunate enough to live in a free and open society where we get to choose a great number of things. That freedom of choice is something to be cherished, not insulted and belittled in favour of something as silly as everyone having the same mobile operating system.

    So to those fanboys signing up just to pick a fight and those already here who fight back, I make this simple plea:

    There are things in this world that are Wrong with a capital W. It only takes 15 minutes watching the morning news to realise that.

    Here's the thing though, none of those Wrongs involve what mobile operating system you use or which video game console you own.

    So the next time you feel the need to tear strips off of someone with a differing opinion on technology, please think about this:

    They're just a person like you with a passion for technology as deep as yours who has made a different choice based on their needs/preferences.

    That's it. That's all there is to it.

    They're not threatening your sense of identity by not loving the product or company that you love. Their choice doesn't invalidate your choice.

    Once you've understood that, ask yourself why? Why do you feel the need to attack them? I did that a couple of years ago and for me answering that question led to understanding, and letting go of, a hell of a lot of stuff that I'd been taking out on others for years if not decades.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't be passionate about things. Instead, direct that passion somewhere where it can do good instead of harm. Use that passion to help others on the forum, to answer questions and give advice…that's how you build and maintain a great community like ours! Not by tearing people down, but by building them up and encouraging them to come back.

    Once you take a look around at all that technology you're fighting over, it becomes pretty clear that we really are living in the future man! And more that that, its a bloody amazing time to be a geek!

    We should all just get along and enjoy that fact.

    Alec is a Cisco certified network engineer who spends his days deploying IP Telephony infrastructure from his trusty 2010 unibody MacBook Pro. You can normally find him lurking on the forums (formerly thatfilthyspringbok, currently alfrsr) or follow him on Twitter, Google+ or on his blog, Inane Geekery.

    His opinions, both on Twitter and here on MacTalk, are all his own and do not reflect those of MacTalk or his employer.
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