Fanboys and Flame Wars Explained?

We’ve all witnessed them. Fanboy Flame wars. Take a look at any Tech forum, find the inevitable article titled “Android V iOS” and before the end of the first page of comments all reasonable debate has gone out the window, and each posters alliance to their preferred mobile platform has descended into hate fueled insults.

I like to pride myself on having a fairly neutral outlook on the various mobile devices on the market. I like to think if you ever come across one of my comments on a YouTube video about, say the latest Nexus compared to the iPad Mini, you’d think “Yeah, good valid fair reasonable point.” The fact I have never owned an Android or iOS tablet should, if anything give me the qualities of an “Undecided Voter” when it comes to those two powerhouses.

I’m not actually undecided, though. I have made a decision on which platform I would choose should I ever get a tablet, and as with the phone I use, it wouldn’t be powered by either Android or iOS. So, if I come across  a YouTube video which compares say an iPhone 5 and a Galaxy Note 2, I’ll merely say in the comments;

“I wouldn’t buy either, MeeGo Harmattan for me all the way.”

That wouldn’t offend anyone would it? Not when you scan further down the comments section of that video and see what some of the other commenters have wrote. Mocking the fragility of one, the battery of the other, the Maps, how outdated the UX is, then to top it all, someone has taken it too far and joked about the death of one of the company’s former CEO’s. The poor kid who originally had an idea of filming a simple comparison of the two latest and greatest smartphones has been called every name under the sun for appearing to have given one of the phones an advantage during one of the comparisons.

A little time later and I realize my comment wasn’t taken very well by a few people either. Here I am, trying to offer an opinion from a neutral corner, and two or three people have called me a Troll. A Troll? For a long time I genuinely had no idea what that was, other than the creature which lived under the bridge in Billy Goat’s Gruff. Turns out it is one of the biggest insults you can dish out to anyone on a thread/forum or chat room.

So what is it that gets Smartphone enthusiasts so infuriated about others merely saying good things about a device different to the one they already own? I’d never let myself get into a “Flame War” with another “Fanboy” would I? I’m too open minded! Well, yeah, until he/she starts slagging off MY  device of choice. Then, before I know it, I’m sucked into the heated debate. How did that happen?

Where does it start? How does a person get branded a Fanboy (or more accurately, and seemingly more insulting, a FanBoi)? It seems that the minute you stick up for the device you choose to own, you are a fanboy. Fair enough, I can live with that title, after all I am a huge fan of the Nokia N9, and for that matter a lot of what Nokia produce. But how does that status morph me into a person who despises other brands of smartphone?

The conclusion I have come up with is that a Smartphone is a considerable investment for most people. Not on the same level as a home or a car, but lets say you had just brought a house, and invited friends over and all they could do is criticize it? Most people would find that hard to ignore, and feel better after retaliating;

“My garden maybe small, but your home has patches of damp everywhere!” Feel better for that one? Perhaps, but wouldn’t it feel better to retort with “My garden isn’t small, your house is a freezing cold, damp infested pile of crap!” Yes! That hit the spot.

And things aren’t really any different with smartphones. In fact, I’ve witnessed (and admittedly become involved with) these flame wars on other topics as well, from Football teams (Soccer teams, for the Yanks), to choice of TV suppliers. But, the moment our investment into something like a phone is questioned, our judgement is also being questioned. So, for someone to say

“The Nokia N9 isn’t worth getting, it’s a dead end platform.” Rather than being taken by me as; Yep, good point, for you it probably isn’t worth getting. My subconscious is saying; What? I’ve wasted my money? No chance! Attack!

There is also the phrase The Truth Hurts. Most people weigh up the pros and cons of  a device and its relative platform before making a purchase, but try hearing some of those cons from another commenter, and it seems like very personal criticism.

Lets not forget another main ingredient in all this, the attitude of some people on the Internet, and you’ve got yourself a nice little hate-fest going on.

I could be a million miles from the truth. I would love to hear your opinion, please leave them in the comments section, and if you are into social media, you can follow me on Twitter, click HERE

Also, to catch any more of my posts, find the follow button at the top of the screen/page (depending on the device you are reading this on.)

Thanks for reading, take care.

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