Fanboy free for all 

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I think people are starting to like their technological gadgets a little too much, which is to say that we've become personally, as well as financially, invested in the products we buy. There's a certain defensiveness and divisiveness in how we consume things that borders on the irrational. We've lost our objectivity, and, with it, our perspective.

I could give countless examples, but the one the interwebs are talking about is MG Siegler's review of the Microsoft Surface Tablet in TechCrunch. Now Siegler is probably Apple's biggest fanboy ever, which is saying something in a fawning media environment where everything Apple does is front-page news and the company hasn't had to invest much in the way of marketing because people like Siegler are doing it for them better than they ever could. He said he would try to be objective, and would accept the consequences if he was found to be biased: "...at the end of the day the fact remains that if I rip apart a product that's actually good, that looks bad on me. My aim is simply to point out what I believe to be the best products. In recent years, in my view, those have been Apple products. But that hasn't always been the case. And that won't always be the case."

Sure enough Siegler's review was met with angry cries of "fanboy!" by people that wanted to give the Microsoft Surface a chance or don't like Apple for some reason. And, predictably, Apple fans jumped to his defence, throwing around stats and specs like they actually mean something to the average consumer.

This is just one well-publicized example of the fanboy wars being waged on the Internet. There's the console wars, where people battle over what platform is better (Xbox 360 vs. PS3, etc.); the "PC vs. console" wars where PC gamers claim supremacy over philistines using joysticks and last generation hardware; the gadget wars; the phone wars; the operating system wars, which includes the "operating environment wars" where you buy everything (computer, phone, tablet) from the same company; and the video game wars where people draw lines in the sand between titles — e.g. Battlefield vs. Call of Duty, Diabolo vs. Torchlight, etc.

It's fascinating to watch battles unfold online over every single little thing, and the types of language people use to fight these battles. It's not rational, or in the larger scheme of things where a billion people don't have food or water security and half the world's population lives in poverty, sane.

It's a phenomena I've tried to avoid, although I can still get caught up in the odd flame war. Still, but losing my objectivity sometimes I've been able to better understand fanboyism — why it exists, and why people can get so emotional, and personal, when it comes to products they use. I have three theories:

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