Rage vs. Living

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marco Arment leads off some perspicacious comments on the phenomenon of "anti-Apple anger" by defining the phenomenon and noting that it is one-sided:

I've noticed a very clear trend among tech sites I read: Android fans are unusually quick to fill the comment box with rage on articles that mention anything positive about Apple or its products. The reverse -- Apple fans leaving angry comments on pro-Android articles -- is almost completely absent from the sites I've seen, including sites like The Verge that have many readers in both camps.
Arment wonders why this is the case after observing a similar reaction from Microsoft fans to a negative review he wrote of a Microsoft Store.
The anger from Microsoft and Android fans at anything pro-Apple usually has undertones of disbelief and frustration, as if to say, "I can't believe I have to say this again. Why don't you get it? What's wrong with you people?"
Arment boils down the source of the anger to a couple of things (either or both of which could apply to any individual): (1) an uneasy suspicion that one may have, in fact, made a bad purchasing decision; and (2) a genuine bewilderment on the part of Android/Windows users about the willingness of so many users to put up with Apple's design decisions, which Arment admits eliminate features many people want and are done with "attitude" (i.e., in a way that many find high-handed).

Arment adds the following speculation, with which I am inclined to agree:
The apparent asymmetry in angry comments is likely because the Apple-fan attitude of aloofness keeps most Apple fans away from dedicated Android and Windows sites and articles, whereas the anti-Apple attitude probably drives many people on that side to try to "rescue" or convince Apple fans that they're blind or idiotic.
Let's set aside people who go with the flow, and just buy whatever everyone they know says is good, or are similarly passive about this choice. There are three basic possibilities regarding any one who is fan of a product or a company: (1) He chose his product for good reasons (not all of which will be apparent to everyone); (2) He has made a bad choice and is unaware of it; (3) He is, in fact, some kind of unreachable dolt.

As Arment notes, the differing degrees of freedom the two types of platform offer couple with different customer needs to make neither platform better than the other in all cases. This means that someone who rails at the first category of fan will just look like an idiot to that fan. Insulting a fan of the second type will do nothing to motivate him to grasp whatever argument one might have made. Regarding the third type, why bang one's head against a wall?

If someone genuinely thinks there is something wrong with a phenomenon like Apple's popularity, frustration is understandable, at least initially. (I think there is something culturally wrong with certain aspects of it, but the problem is hardly limited to what people are willing to take from Apple.) But devoting one's time to venting frustration is counterproductive. One might feel a momentary sense of satisfaction -- but did one really "show 'em"? No. The only really productive course of action is to determine to the best one can what is wrong, the extent to which one can change it, and how much of an effort to effect such a change is really worth it against everything else one values in life.

Life is short: Why would anyone waste even a minute or so of it berating someone else over something like the phone he decided to buy.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

I think on the Apple side, the frustration comes because people can sense a bit of injustice.

Here's one good example (of many):

I wanted an Apple bear’s take on today’s results and the market reaction. I think Dan Lyon’s piece for ReadWrite was actually pretty reasonable. No hysterics, no grave dancing. But it kind of falls apart at the end:

"Still, it seems Apple has hit a wall. It’s not just about sales and earnings, but also about innovation. It’s been years since Apple did something truly revolutionary. Rumors of Apple getting into the TV market continue to swirl, but so far it’s all just rumors."

iPod, iPhone, iPad. That’s the sort of Big New Thing that Lyons — and many others — are talking about. Only Steve Jobs could do those things, Tim Cook can’t. But look at the timeframe: iPod 2001, iPhone 2007, iPad 2010. Even during the era of innovation Lyons is pointing to, Apple spent six years between the first iPod and first iPhone. Again, why is it only Apple that’s expected to invent a time machine?

(Worth pointing out too, that Lyons didn’t see the original iPad as a breakthrough: “Jobs and his team kept using words like ‘breakthrough’ and ‘magical’, but the iPad is neither, at least not right now.”)

From: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/01/23/lyons-innovation

Ii recommend reading the "Time Machine" post linked on the article.

Thanks Uncle Gus.

Jennifer Snow said...

It's also possible that many of the Android people went with Android not because they WANT Android, but because there were some things on Apple products they were absolutely unwilling to compromise about. People who buy Apple products generally WANT the Apple products, in my experience. I don't use Windows on my computer because I WANT Windows, I use it because I DON'T want the problems that would come if I used anything else.

People are more likely to be irate if they wound up with X as a default because nothing else works.

Steve D said...

Anger is a secondary emotion which when introspected is almost always found to have another emotion as its main cause. However, bewilderment is usually not one of them.
Why would anyone waste even a minute or so of it berating someone else over something like the phone he decided to buy?
That’s kind of like berating someone over the brand toothpick he decides to buy.

Gus Van Horn said...


It is amusing that people are giving Apple such a short time to innovate. It's as if, having not toiled away on something themselves, they don't know what it takes...


Sure, but why vent against Apple's satisfied customers?


I don't know, but there is a strand of the meddlesome in our culture. I could care less about the various consumer and lifestyle choices other people make, and yet others make it their (substitute for a real) mission in life to convince others that their choices are wrong.


Steve D said...

Sure Gus, just so long as they use the proper olives in their martinis, they can use any phone they want...
Actually I agree with you about the strand of meddlesomeness and this goes well beyond government nannies. It seems to saturate our culture and it’s evident on both (all?) sides of the political spectrum. A good natured argument is one thing; anger is another.
You know, this type of anger (and the meddlesomeness which accompanies it) feels, smells and quacks like a psychological defense mechanism.

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree that such a phenomenon is probably a psychological defense mechanism. Perhaps part of understanding it is not to examine it in great detail, but to ask what it accomplishes (or is an attempt to accomplish) for the person doing it.

mtnrunner2 said...

I'm baffled by the OS and device bigotry out there. It doesn't seem different than any other form of narrowness; it's an inability to appreciate differences and to do what is good for one's purposes, in this case accomplish various daily tasks.

Quite honestly, companies "borrow" from one another so much that things aren't even really that different except at the outset of an innovation.

Use what works for your purposes. There are many different ways to do something.

I use Windows on a MacBook, have an iPhone, and browse using Chrome.

Gus Van Horn said...


What I find really baffling is the occasional professed Objectivist who displays such an attitude.

Your remarks remind me of an example of this attitude that really took the cake. In reaction to something I once said, this pair -- professed Objectivists no less -- swept under the rug the fact that individuals have differences relevant to the topic at hand -- and accused me of being a "subjectivist" for recognizing the fact that the way one does things can vary due to such differences.

Heh! I wonder what such a person would "think" about your computing habits...