The ugly politics of fanboy culture

The blue/red political divide is being replicated in the technology world, but among Apple, Google, and Microsoft enclaves

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That's why Android users put up with quickly orphaned models as Google releases yet another new OS version dribbled over a year or longer to a random set of smartphones. Or why they aren't outraged that the Google Play market is a cesspool of malware, cyber theft, and lame software.

That's why Microsoft fanboys quietly go along with the disastrous muddle that is Windows 8. Or why they're not outraged that Microsoft's Surface tablet doesn't support POP email (the most common account type among regular Joe users) and requires you to buy a second Office license if you dare work on business documents on your new tablet's included Office software.

It makes perfect sense to gravitate to technology that fits your needs, desires, style, and behavioral approaches. After all, we do that with architecture, art, cars, liquor, pets, religion, and pretty much everything. It makes sense to express the passion you feel and get reinforced.

But it doesn't make sense to take it all so personally or to shut out the rest of the world or to attack those whose technological choices differ from yours. Yes, advocate for, celebrate, and even proselytize for what you believe is good. But accept that others have different yet valid choices.

Maybe you can even check out those other choices from time to time: Give them a periodic test-drive. You might convert to something that didn't work in the past but now actually fits. (Hey, I used to hate Brussels sprouts! Now I love them.) Maybe you'll be reconfirmed in your current choice. Maybe you'll learn to be happily multicultural. But don't descend into the technological equivalent of the blue/red feudalism.

Some people use the religious metaphor to describe fanboys: devotion. It's apt; for some, religion becomes a feudal environment where all others are heretics to be killed. For some, religion is an empowering force for the greater personal and overall good, a positive force magnified through ecumenical embrace of good in all forms. The amazing technology we have today should be the latter.

Be a fan, not a fanboy. I'll try harder, too.

This article, "The ugly politics of fanboy culture," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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