“We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.” — Steve Jobs, 1997
Why does it seem that almost every thread on a social network relating to an article about technology devolves into a war between teams? One team supports a multinational corporation that sues its competition on a weekly basis while the other team supports a business that has been cited on numerous occasions for inhumane labor practices. Meanwhile, a third party will inevitably jump in and point out that their multinational corporation is better than everyone else’s because it uses open source software.
Listen, folks. How about we step back for a moment and take a look at exactly how silly this whole A vs. B mentality is we’ve fallen into? Does anyone really need to be cussed out, called names, and even harassed over their choices in mobile phones? I’d like to think that we’ve evolved as a society past the red against blue dynamic. Sadly, we really haven’t.
There is a time and a place for competition. Apple and Microsoft are competitive companies, and each of them have plenty of points of friction in the market. What I find most curious is how eager people with no vested interest in either company are to leap into verbal battle to defend their choices against someone who dares to compliment a different preference.
I’m not talking about humorous comparisons and parodies such as the Epic Rap Battle (video above). I’m talking about harsh, vile attacks on someone’s person that take place simply because they dare to share their opinion, and it doesn’t match your own.
Has Society Changed in Recent Years?
I’ve written about this matter before, and the previous article received some attention. Unfortunately, the problem actually extends a bit deeper than just a superiority complex among geeks. It’s a team versus team mentality that has existed in society since we were scribbling on cave walls.
I had a conversation with someone recently who spoke about a shift that has happened in the way we think in recent years. He mentioned that when he was growing up, kids playing baseball would share in triumph and defeat. If a kid struck out, the kid felt bad about it until their next time at bat. No yelling or harsh words were tossed around. You either hit the ball or you didn’t.
Today, when a kid strikes out at the plate, it’s common to see parents and members of the team blame the umpire for the mistake. It’s either a bad call or a mistake made by someone other than a member of the team. We’ve become so quick to defend our own position that we’ve decided that suddenly our perception is better than that of a trained umpire standing inches away from the strike zone.
The same situation plays itself out in the tech world. It wasn’t common in the past to be angry at a corporation because it didn’t come up with your favorite phone or design a new gadget you didn’t agree with. You bought what worked for you or you didn’t. These days, we’re so eager to defend our position on something (regardless of how petty) that we’ve become vicious and hateful trolls.
I, for one, hope this is a trend that doesn’t continue.