Fanboyism

6 06 2014

This is about very special people conspicuously often found in the tech scene, fanboys. Whether it’s Apple, Google, or Samsung, these companies can trust in crowds of people following them regardless what happens. They are like advocates defending their beloved company whatever all other competitors might do.

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They are waiting in front of an Apple Store up to 24 hours before it opens and starts selling a new product which already was rumored 11 months before. Excitement is still as emotional as last year and the many years before last year.

The cult …

Apple enjoys a cult-like following for its platforms, especially following the massive increase in popularity for the brand brought about by the huge increase in sales for all its products that started around the time the company introduced the original iPod in late 2001.
The mass usage of computing devices in everyday life, mixed with Apple’s vertical integration of its products, has helped to bring about this increase in popularity, and combined with a tight-lipped corporate policy about future products, helped foster an interest in the company’s activities.

Hardcore fanboys …

FANBOYS are much more than a mnemonic acronym to remember the coordinators For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So. I’m talking about very special people most often with a limited view on reality and a focus on imagination.

Admittedly there are many fanboys behaving like normal open-minded people just admiring technological leading-edge products which fit their requirements with a dash of wine. They don’t purchase a product for just playing with it but improving their creativity, knowledge, and doing all the tasks they have to do where a device can make it easier than a pen and a sheet of paper.

Real hardcore fans can be identified by comments like this

Lol brainless samsungfags, if you hate iPhone so much, why do you care to watch it? Lol the android community is so damn annoying. Shut up about the shit4 or note 3, stop hatin on Apple!

or the following list of characteristics (or should I say ‘mental throwbacks’?):

  • They just like images.
    Reading articles is not their bag. The thing-in-itself is represented just by shape and color.
  • Their comments on social networks are quite short-worded, frequently reduced to a single emoji. The more precise authors repeat one emoji up to ten times and creative people use emojis in an alternating order, randomly or following a law of nature which states that the entropy never decreases.
  • Their heartbeat is near to frequency of the processors of their devices.
  • While sleeping and dreaming the device always takes up an outstanding room.
  • They set their priorities:
    1 news about a successor, 2 getting the money for it, 2 buying accessories for their actual device, 3 their actual device, and light years later other fanboys, friends and the family. This ranking is completely updated with the mother or father in the pole position if she/he pays for the new device.
  • They change their device’s wallpaper at least 5 times a day to keep up the imagination of loving something new.
  • Youtube, games, and some messaging apps connected to social networks are the most frequently used applications.
  • They patched their brain with a powerful filter mechanism which allows to ignore arguments of normal people using a device of a competitor.
  • An unexpected and surprised turnaround to a competing company can be done easily by replacing emojis in forum comments just by the same emojis. That’s not a big deal but yet near the border of skills.
  • They talk about their beloved company as if it’s a political candidate running for control of the universe.
  • An unboxing video is always a case for an academy award, the Oscar, nothing less.

Admiring leaders is easy because you just have to click on +1, the striking example of expressiveness. There seems to be no time to create a significant sentence when hastily switching between Google+ , the actual game, Twitter, an incoming mail, and a call with a friend. I always ask myself what the +1 stands for. Is it a severe emotional attack lasting 2 secs? This would be in the line with the life of a fanboy which is much more stressful than that of a leader who has to declare insolvent in front of hundreds of journalists.

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To avoid criminal attacks on me I stop outlining more of these character traits although the enumeration could be continued up to a length of about 20 websites in portrait mode of an iPad which is approximately 158″.

The delusion …

The Internet changed the way people argue. People with a spirit of mischief might ask: Argument? Let’s have a look at Wikipedia to figure out what this term means.

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Once somebody has acquired this level of arcane knowledge, there is absolutely nothing to do but share it with other fanboys. Check any comment system in social networks or forums and you will find fanboys debating why their chosen product is better than that of others.

Competition is transferred from the companies to the customers.

Customer competition is about defending an emotional decision.

Usually, these arguments are between men, because men will defend their ego no matter how slight the insult is. These are also usually about geeky things that cost lots of money, because these battles take place on the Internet where tech-savvy people get rowdy, and the more expensive a purchase, the greater the loyalty to it.

Almost a quarter of younger people even use their phones while having sex. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that some of them develop an abnormal fixation with devices that goes beyond being extremely grateful for the YouTube application.

A phone might not seem to be something worth fighting over, but what it stands for most definitely is.

A fanboy immediately turns into a hostage.
Hostages have no choice but to buy certain products.

They are far less likely to care if one device is better than another. It’s the choosing one thing over another which leads to narratives about why you did it. If you have to rationalize why you bought a luxury item, you will probably find ways to see how it fits in with your self-image.

To combat postdecisional dissonance, the feeling you have committed to one option when the other option may have been better, you make yourself feel justified in what you selected to lower the anxiety brought on by questioning yourself.

All of this forms a giant neurological cluster of associations, emotions, details of self-image and biases around the things you own. This is why all over the Internet there are people in word fights over video games and sports teams, cell phones and TV shows. The Internet provides a fertile breeding ground for this sort of behavior to flourish.

Summarized …

The imagination …
You prefer the things you own over the things you don’t because you made rational choices when you bought them.

The reality …
You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.

Google+ …

Google+ is intended to be a content network. You as a community member can do a lot to keep fanboyism on a low level. Just write appropriate comments.

Google implemented a comment section which, in the case of brand communities, should better be renamed into
‘My feelings’.

Moderators cannot do this all the time. They do this job in their leisure time and it would be too much work to go through all the comments. But they consequently can remove posts with thin content. It doesn’t take a long time until fanboys are aware of heavy moderation and that there is no chance to post useless content.
On the internet everyone is entitled to express his opinion or feeling. It’s in the hands of owners and moderators to decide what kind of contributions should be allowed. There are two alternatives:

  • All kind of content
    useful, useless, on topic, off topic, self-promotion, emotional status messages, images without any further comment, etc.

    These communities usually have lots of members but less contributors compared to well-known stats.

  • Rich content
    on topic with added value to improve knowledge and widen horizons

It’s that simple.

The G+ guide …

Andrij Harasewych created a noteworthy Google+ Member Guide with useful information about the engagement on Google+, the content network.

If you are a hardcore fanboy there is no need to read Andrij’s comprehensive guide, feel free to use my Golden Rules

  • 1 Do not read the content of a post. It will save you from the decision to +1 a post and to write useful comments on topic.
  • 2 +1 all posts with a colorful image of your actual device, a device you would like to have, or a device which still doesn’t exist.
  • 3 To avoid typos just use emojis in the comment section.
  • 4 If you find information about a competitor’s device, it’s definitely against the human rights and you should immediately use the scroll bar to quickly kick off posts into invisibility. It will save you from being punished by a moderator because of trolling.
  • 5 Last but not least keep on dreaming about non-existing devices shortly after purchasing an actual device. Follow Steve Jobs and Stay hungry, stay foolish.

The benefit of these simple rules for fanboys is that they can easily be transferred to all other networks except Twitter which is already meaningless per design.

Trolls …

Sad to say that fanboys often are also trolls.

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

The worrisome result of scientific researches is described in an article of Chris Mooney on SLATE.com:

In the past few years, the science of Internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called Internet trolls (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.

That’s bad, but it’s nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of trolls themselves. The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad:

Machiavellianism
(willingness to manipulate and deceive others),

Narcissism
(egotism and self-obsession),

Psychopathy
(the lack of remorse and empathy), and

Sadism
(pleasure in the suffering of others).

Summary …

Let everyone do as he likes.
Getting older and focusing on essentials might patch some bugs in their brain. Moderators in social networks should keep a close eye on fanboys otherwise interaction will not surpass 2nd grade level.

Sorry, if I went ballistic. I only wanted to summarize my experiences as a former member and moderator in an Apple related community with more than 90k members.

Related links …

Google+ Moderation

Brand Communities

Google+ Activity Guide

I had a dream

About Internet Trolls

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.
Hope to see you again in front of an Apple Store.


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