How often have you seen comments like “I hate Apple products”, or “Anyone who buys an Android phone is an idiot”? What about something along the lines of “Facebook sucks”?
It’s probably all too often. There is a lot of entirely irrational hate towards tech companies and their products, meaning the most innocuous article can start a full on flamewar. I’ve personally been accused of taking money from both Apple and Microsoft in comments below my articles. The supposed evidence for my breach of ethics? I expressed positive opinions about the companies.
Let’s take a look at how people come to hate tech companies, and why they’re wrong to do so.
The fundamental attribution error (FAE) is one of the strongest human biases, and it has an incredibly powerful effect on day to day life. People tend to attribute their success to their own positive characteristics, and their failures to external factors – all while assuming the inverse about everyone else.
So, if I win a photography competition I assume it’s down to my skill as an artist, while if someone else wins its because they were lucky – or because they’re friends with one of the judges.
One of the major effects of FAE: people are terrible at understanding the rationale for other people’s choices. Just have a look at the comments on my article on why it’s okay that some Kanye West fans don’t know who Paul McCartney is. The underlying thought process seems to be “I like good music so any music I dislike is bad. Anyone who disagrees with my choices is clearly an idiot — how else could they like Justin Bieber? I don’t like him and I have excellent music taste.”
The same thought pattern is at the route of why people hate tech companies and their products.
It’s 2015, Nothing Really Sucks Anymore
Right now, the number of truly terrible tech products from major manufacturers is very small. There are no bad Apple products. Ignoring Samsung’s low-end offerings, all their recent phones are pretty great. Both OS X and Windows 10 are excellent operating systems. While I love my iPhone 5S, and I’ve no plans to swap it for a Galaxy S6, that doesn’t mean the S6 sucks. It just means that the features that the S6 offers don’t appeal to me.
This is the crux of it. Too often people conflate “I don’t see the appeal of Product X” with “Product X has no appealing qualities”. Somehow, in the crazy neural connections of our brain, gets turned into “I hate Product X”. But feeling hatred towards a product or company is absolutely ridiculous.
My Favorite Feature Is Your Most Annoying Bug
Everyone has different needs when it comes to tech products. I’m a photographer, so I do a lot of image editing in Photoshop and Lightroom. A Chromebook just won’t work for me. Dave Parrack, who writes Tech News Digest, works almost exclusively from one. Even though I could never use a Chromebook as my main machine, I can see why Dave does: it works for him.
Every other tech product breaks down this way. If you don’t understand why someone would spend $10,000 on a gold Apple Watch, that’s okay – a gold Apple Watch just isn’t for you (it’s for Chinese billionaires). That doesn’t mean the Apple Watch Edition sucks, just that its features and price don’t appeal to you. The same is true of the other Apple Watches — I’m happy to spend $400 on a Sport model, while other people aren’t. Just because you think a product is overpriced doesn’t mean anyone who buys it is wasting money. They value it differently. Thinking anything else is just the FAE in action.
Any time you don’t see what someone could like about a product, the chances are you aren’t the target customer. Step back, and put yourself in the shoes of someone who is. You might love the customisability of Android, while other people (like me) care far more about consistent design. Unless you can overcome the FAE, and think about smartphones from a perspective like mine, you’re forever doomed to dismiss all Apple fans out of hand. And that’s too bad.
Hate Isn’t Worth It
Even if you really can’t come to see things from someone else’s point of view, or genuinely think they’re mistaken, getting wound up about it just isn’t worth it. There is a lot you can learn about yourself, and what is meaningful to you, from things you dislike. One of my favourite film critics, the all-caps wielding Film Crit Hulk, puts it best in his article on why you should never hate a movie. Hulk recounts a chance meeting with the director Quentin Tarantino that changed how he viewed movies.
Tarantino told Hulk:
Never, under any circumstances, hate a movie. It won’t help you and it’s a waste of time… There’s plenty of reasons to not to like a movie. But if you hate them? Meaning if let them bother you? Then they’ll do nothing but bother you. Who wants to be bothered? There’s so many better things to do with movies… Bad things can be so much more interesting than just bad.
The article is worth reading in full and is relevant to any kind of criticism. Getting upset and angry that someone likes something you don’t is a recipe for unhappiness.
It’s all to easy to forget that everyone else on the planet thinks and feels the same way we do. The fundamental attribution error underpins how we think about other people’s motivations and actions. When they do something we disagree with, even if it is just buy a phone we don’t like, our all-too-fallible brains try to dismiss them as fools. This leads to so many unnecessary arguments online. Just maybe, other people have considered something equally deeply and come to a different conclusion.
There is no point to hating tech companies and their products. Getting upset because someone is buying something you’re not interested in benefits no one. Different people like and need different things — it’s what makes us human.