Your Choice in Technology Doesn’t Make You Better Than Anyone Else

Enough is enough. It’s gotten to where someone can’t make a public comment about Android or iOS without sparking some kind of a dispute between soldiers in an imaginary technology war. Not only has this gotten out of hand, but we’re forgetting exactly what we’re arguing about.

When I was in junior high school, I couldn’t afford clothes made by the biggest brands of the day or carry a pager (ask your parents what one of those was if you don’t know). The result was constant teasing and harassment from my peers. I was even in a few fights (which I usually lost) because someone felt they needed to remind me that not wearing Nike shoes made me a lesser being. It was a terrible time of my life, and I’m sad to see that this mentality has made its way to social networks, forums, and comment threads all over the Web. Even adults (who should know better) are taking part in name calling and other uncivilized actions in order to proclaim their technology choices superior.

If I were to say the iPhone 5 looks like a decent upgrade to a sleek and powerful mobile device, it would likely be met with name calling and vicious rebuttals from folks who have an unnatural hatred (a word I don’t use lightly) for anything Apple. Likewise, the same might happen if I were to compliment the results of Project Butter on Android.

I’m an Android phone user. I carry a Galaxy Nexus around with me everywhere I go. My go-to tablet is a Sony Android tablet. For some reason, any time I write about Apple, the fanboy label is thrown around. Really, guys? I’m a technology writer and I write about technology. It doesn’t matter what brand makes the technology. If it’s interesting, I write about it.

Samsung isn’t a victim. It’s a multinational corporation with its own set of ethical violations.

Perhaps the bigger issue facing us is why we, as a society, feel the need to defend a multinational corporation. Samsung received a strong backing from the Android community when Apple took it to court over patent disputes. Meanwhile, Samsung itself is under heavy scrutiny after reports cited Samsung for abusing underage workers in its Chinese factories. Samsung is just like any other multinational corporation. It isn’t a poor victim at all. Samsung has ongoing lawsuits of its own, including quite a few against Apple.

People seem to believe that Android is the heart of the legal back-and-forth between these two companies. Because of this, the split between Android users and iOS users appears to be the battleground on which the most heated of these debates are taking place. Simply put, Apple didn’t sue Samsung for Android-specific features. It sued over the look of the phone, the Samsung-specific enhancements to the OS, and some Samsung-specific applications including local search through S-Voice.

Perhaps the saddest side-effect of this fanaticism is the tossing about of one-word names and personal attacks.

More concerning to me are the personal attacks being tossed around in these threads. Is someone’s choice of phone really reason enough to harass them and call them derogatory names? Has our society evolved so little over its history that we haven’t moved past the inclinations of junior high school children?

It brings to mind the movie Idiocracy. The clip below features some harsh language, but it’s really no different than the typical OS X Vs. Windows or Android Vs. iOS thread.

Name calling is a fallback people use instinctively when they have neither the vocabulary or intelligence to formulate a rational response to a situation. It speaks poorly of the person’s ability to communicate, and even less to their technical understanding. Being called a name by someone claiming their superior technical selections is like Mr. Bean calling someone clumsy. It’s silly.

Sadly, it’s the result of us, as a group, becoming a little too passionate about objects. We care so much about the iPhone or our favorite desktop operating system that we are practically willing to fight people who feel differently. It’s a religious fanaticism that needs to stop. It’s sad, really.

A phone is, at the end of the day, just a phone. If you believe so strongly that someone with a lesser phone deserves to be publicly called out and shamed for doing so, then you are the one with the bigger issue.

If you want to express your opinion on a this-versus-that topic, bring some insight to the table.

A recent Google+ post by Chris Pirillo brought some interesting insight into this ongoing issue. He shared a link to a a story indicating that the iPhone 5 sold out of its pre-orders faster than the iPhone 4 or 4S. He hinted that this counters previous assumptions that the phone announcement was boring and uneventful. The resulting conversation flowed like any other Android/iOS debate. Some Android fans declared that people buying the new iPhone were cult members, while others were less severe in their opinions.

Apparently, buying a certain phone makes you the member of a cult. What does that say about people who buy the opposing phone and shun people who purchase the “cult” phone? Isn’t that a cult-like activity on its own?

The above video is kind of funny. It depicts some of the things that people have been saying on Google+ en masse. There’s a certain bandwagon factor that plays into every group, and social networks are no different. How many conversations have you seen on Google+ and/or Facebook declaring one social network to be “better” than another? How many hours do people spend bickering back and forth about it, when they usually have accounts on both networks anyway?

We need to take a step back as a culture and consider just how involved we are in the debates and arguments waging across virtually every social platform. Are you one of those folks who judges people based on what phone they carry or what brand their computer is? How is this any different than being in junior high and making fun of someone for wearing shoes made by an unpopular brand? Honestly, there’s no difference at all.

Image: Chris Pirillo