Apple, Google, Microsoft – are you a Brand Taliban or Brand Evangelist?
Commentards, why it is good for your wellbeing
Day in, day out commenters do battle on Reg forums behalf or against companies. It used to be Microsoft, and then Google, but lately our readers are most polarized when discussing Apple.
Why the passion, the animus? As some commentards note, we are talking about a phone here, a way of doing things there, and a software-based lifestyle choice or two.
Maybe, Andy Green of the Flexible Thinking Forum has the answer.
In a letter published in the FT today, he writes:
We have all become more polarized in how we respond to news and institutions. We now cannot simply raise an eyebrow in response to a topical item, but respond in either the extreme positive – or negative.
We now live in an age where we are either Brand Talibans – whatever the organization does, good or bad, will actually reinforce our negativity – or at the other end of the spectrum – Brand evangelists – stoutly defending the organization, whatever is thrown at it.
This increasing black / white polarization, I would suggest, is down to our increasing alienation in a faster moving world, where we have to resort to fundamental good / bad safe / unsafe judgment calls to maintain our sense of well-being. Hating or loving BP reinforces our world, as we choose to see it.
Yes there are those who will hate BP more (if they are so inclined), but equally there are others who will become more resolutely pro-BP, whatever the headlines it continues to spill.
For BP, read Apple.
Readers, is Green right?
I think we can agree we are all Brand Talibans where the phone companies are concerned.
He's right on the money
For everyone except for me , of course.
[Note: this post was prepared in a factory that processes irony. This post may contain traces of irony.]
Why can't we all just get along?
And direct our hatred at Sony? Still haven't forgiven them for that whole rootkit thing. Or for squeezing MiniDisc to death by not letting anyone else play in their sandbox. Or for...
Anyways, my $0.02 about the whole topic is that it is rarely about people responding negatively to a corporation itself. The corporation is a catalyst for hating the most common stereotype of the that corporation's fanboys. How many Apple bashers really hate APPLE? I don't think many do. Some may disagree strongly with Steve Jobs' decisions, and indeed with the board of directors for letting him get away with it. On the whole though I think people are clued in enough to realise that Apple is thousands of employees, and hating the whole company is stupid.
People do, however, Tend to hate Apple FANBOYS. The interesting part is that the very specific fanboys that people love to hate most likely aren’t even the majority of Apple users. They are simply the most vocal. These evangelical fanboys not only defend Apple’s good name, but frequently go on the offensive against other companies. Seemingly this behaviour is as much a pre-emptive defence of Apple as anything; switch the topic to the misdeeds or failures of “the other guys” rather than allow focus to take place on the inadequacies of their chosen club.
This “going on the offensive” is, I think, what gets under a lot of people’s skin. They start to hate fanboys of a particular company, and this soon is transposed into hating that company itself.
Now of course this isn’t a one-size-fits-all analysis, but it is what I believe represents the majority of individuals who fit into “brand evangelisers” or “brand haters.” You could replace the word “Apple” in the above with any company (or even product) that attracts a hard-core cadre of evangelical believers.
I think the action/reaction is not between “my company/product” and “your company/product” but between “extremism + evangelism” and “people who have a more moderate view of life.” I know that I personally prefer to look at things as objectively as possible. Try to see the middle ground, understand all angles of a thing and compromise when and where necessary.
People who are stubborn, evangelical or extremist can get my hackles up fairly quickly. I can’t understand them. Why can’t they see both the good and bad in people, products and ideologies? Why can they never seem to seek a happy medium between their preferences and desires and the requirements of others?
Even though after decades of being on the internet, my skin should really be thicker, these people can and do get to me. So I can, and do, develop irrational prejudices against a corporation based on the actions of the individuals who evangelise that corporation or it’s products.
Apple is a great example. They make a fine operating system, and (some) of their equipment is not bad. (Overpriced, but not bad at all.) Despite this, I wouldn’t use it unless forced to, because I simply can’t shake the mental association between Apple and the terribly irritating [string of expletives] who won’t shut up about it. In the case of Apple, all the bit of their works that I personally find valuable also exist in other products, such as Solaris or Linux. Though they may not be quite so easy to use as Apple, I find myself far more willing to use Solaris or Linux than I would be willing to use Apple.
I am aware of this prejudice, and work carefully not to let it influence my professional business decisions. Apple, Linux, Solaris, Windows…they have their benefits and their flaws, and as stated above, I am a moderate.
Still, literally /decades/ of terrifyingly irritating smug self-centred narrow-minded elitist hipster Apple fanatics has poisoned me against personally using that company’s products on any personal level at all. Even though I recognise that those types of fanboys are probably only about 20% of the user base…they are my personal Kryptonite.
I am sure it will be easy for other commenters to read this comment and reply with something witty like “so just get over it, man! Apple’s great!” I have nothing I could say to that, so I won’t. I can’t get over it; decades of exposure have burned a deep dislike of these people (and by transference their chosen company) deep into my soul. Think post-traumatic stress syndrome, but instead of being caused by a war, it’s by over exposure to douchebags.
No shit, Sherlock
And that (in a capitalist society) is exactly how things should be, subject to legal behaviour.
"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest." Adam Smith
"none of them have the goodwill, wellbeing or any other positive interest of their customers at heart, their only drive is to make as much money as they possibly can,legally or otherwise, whilst ensuring their competitors don't."
Well, of course. That's capitalism.
As for the debate: 'we' haven't become polarised, 'we' have always been polarized.
Step back a few years, and that vehement polarisation was confined to fag breaks and the pub.
The issue is not the rise of polarisation, but the rise of the ability of low-value, human opinion to be provided to a wider audience. The Web's current favour of social networking, forums, comments etc. simply brings into the light, the fact that humans are naturally predisposed to either love or hate something.
By it's very nature, extremes define the norm and vice-versa (one can not exist without the other).
The stance of good vs. evil has existed for millennia. There are still whole nations and belief systems that subscribe to this polarisation. And for those whose lives are less impacted by belief, simply transfer this natural state to other things.
The only way to stop such polarisation is for everyone in the world to get along nicely and be considerate of others. But then, this would arguably staunch growth and imagination and result in a very boring world.
What astounds me more, is the effort people will go to, to bemoan such natural polarisation, rather than go out and do something else instead.
For the record, I use Windows PCs, Macs and Linux boxes. I have a (very simple) Nokia phone for calls/texts and an iPod touch for music (it's pretty). I listen to the radio, watch TV and read books.
I like to think I'm not polarised, until someone offers me gnat's piss lager rather than a full bodied
John Cleese says it best