Is there anything wrong with being an insane Apple fanboy?

Walt Mossberg of the newly-constituted Recode makes an appeal for civilized behavior among fanboys of Apple and other brands. Is he asking for too much?

Chris Matyszczyk
4 min read
Apple's cultists, as seen by Samsung. Samsung/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This week, people are gathering in the world headquarters of orgies for the biggest, most breathless gadget orgy in the world.

They will walk around the halls, their mouths agape, their heart-rates elevated and their fervor that they are in the future's core undiminished.

It's curious, then, that some wish that all gadget fanpersons would just calm down.

I was moved this week by Walt Mossberg's Recode appeal to fanboys and fangirls. "It's not a church. It's just an Apple store," ran the headline.

Rationally, this is correct. However, humanity has always been driven by its irrationalities. We love our crazy. We celebrate our crazy. History has often been driven by those who have peculiar hyperloops wafting inside their craniums.

Irrationality is what we love and why we love. Sensible marriages rarely last. Worse, they're painfully unexciting.

Irrationality is very often the reason why people are inspired to do things, just as it's often the reason why people buy things.

The greatest Apple ad of all time wasn't called "Here's To The Rational Ones." That's just one of the reasons people flock to buy Apple products.

The company has often been compared to a religious organization -- be it a church or a Satanic cult. And we all know that fervent members of such organizations can sometimes behave with extreme passion.

Mossberg wishes they wouldn't: "It's really not okay to pour down personal hate and derision on people who happen to use and like a tech product that competes with the one you prefer. I'm pretty sure that kind of behavior violates the tenets of, you know, all the real religions."

Oh, but it doesn't. Religions seem to have been at the heart of more than a war or two over the years. Pouring down hate and derision on those of another faith is but the amuse bouche for some factions.

Mossberg worries not only about the Church of Apple, but also about the Churches of Android, BlackBerry, Open Source, and Windows. Even the lesser-known Church of Real Business incites a frisson.

Yet the fact that people become so passionate about something as inanimate as a gadget should surely bring hope to many. If we are all to become robots once President Page enters the White House, then how hopeful that people care about which bits of plastic and metal they associate with.

How charming that people are willing to defend their choices and decry those of others.

Mossberg worries that this sometimes vicious invective is somehow blurring "the ability to make clear buying decisions."

But did you see the Alabama mother attacking some Oklahoma fans at last week's Sugar Bowl? Yes, the one who leaped over several bodies to land a couple of punches and kicks. After that, you'll surely know that there's still some irrational distance between gadget fanboys and, say, football fans.

The gadget industry should be grateful that its inanimate creations incite such insane fandom. (And it is.)

The spitting of blood in the Apple vs. Android MMS arena isn't quite as fierce as some of the words and feelings tossed about on Twitter when it comes to race, politics, or sports.

And have you seen how mean One Direction fans and Beliebers can be?

Fanboy outrage may be a sign that technology is the new sports, the new entertainment, or the new fashion. (Just listen to what a Prada aficionado might say to someone wearing Gap.)

It might also be a pitiful commentary on the state of the world, but to single out fanboys of Apple, Android, and the rest is not to look sufficiently into the world's crumbly psychic crust.

It may well be that people are constantly reaching to find something to which they can belong. It may well be that in Apple, Android, Samsung, and Microsoft some have found an emotional home that lifts their spirits in some perhaps twisted way.

But I have a friend who's perhaps one of the most intelligent people on the planet. Yet get him on the subject of the Philadelphia Eagles and he becomes as potty as the man I always get to sit next to on the bus.

Ask him to see reason and he only sees red. Or, rather, green.

It's an aspect of our times that the Web has given people permission to express their worst, most emotional sides in public, there for anyone and everyone to witness. Every minute of every day.

But to imagine there's something more extreme in the gadget world than in so many others is to imagine that the world really is fair and just.

To expect civilized behavior from everyone is to express an excessive (and irrational) belief in the present and future of humanity. And to expect everyone to make clear buying decisions is to believe, as so many economists love to do, in man as a rational actor.

How uninteresting that would be.