Fanboyism: An Inside Look

     Master ChiefYou’ve seen them, you’ve heard them, you’re probably even one of them. Though most of us don’t want to see people flaming sites and bashing new stuff all the time, you just have to admit the very existence of fanboyism. They can be either mild or extreme in their own little biased way. If you’re one of those people who buy Nike shoes all the time, then you’re already a fanboy, or fangirl for the female counterpart. So what are fanboys and why do they do what they do? I’m going to dedicate this entry to looking a bit deeper into the minds of these fanatics.

     Let’s first briefly describe the nature of a fanboy. They are basically obsessed with a certain product, brand or topic in general, leaving extreme bias and almost no actual reasoning to do the talking for them. Once they get the hang of it, they show off their adoration towards these icons and are willing to defend it from anyone who would say otherwise. Most fanboys won’t stop for glorifying a certain product, but end up bashing any other that may fall in the same category. These are generally what they do, but their motives can vary. I have divided fanboyism into three general motives: frustration, bragging rights, and insecurity.

     Frustration is a common category of fanboyism. It involves people who have become so frustrated and angry with what they have that they stop being faithful to the respective icon and start bashing it. The fanboys here have the “Anything is better than this” attitude. A good example would be Windows Vista. The headaches and plagues that came with Vista erupted anger amongst computer users. They have either switched back to XP, or moved on to Mac or Linux. Ever since, these converts would keep going on the web about how they went away from Vista was the best move they ever made. Another good example is the Spore DRM Issue, where angered users went to Amazon.com and flamed Spore with one-star ratings.

     Bragging Rights is extremely common amongst us. It involves the adoration of a product, particularly one that is expensive or prestigious, and is used as a social climbing method. The common attitude here is “I am better because I have this”.  Most of the time, fanboys will attempt to justify the premium they paid through showing off in order to obtain the main goal of becoming the center of attention. A good example is the buying top-of-the-line models of certain products mostly for the purpose of bragging. Another example is the Nike cult I mentioned earlier, where Nike shoes can be considered a prestige.

     The last but most intriguing motive is Insecurity. It derives from the first two motives, but is considered separate due to it having a different attitudes. Insecurity is further divided into two: Nostalgia (which derives from Frustration) and Envy (which derives from Bragging Rights). Nostalgia is when one says that an older or previous product is better due to his/her insecurity that they cannot embrace the change to what they loved. As such, they have the “The older one is still better” attitude and use it to bash the new product, even though that product might not even have any actual flaws. An infamous example would be the recent Diablo 3 fanboy issue, in which many fanboys did not like the direction the game was going and they still preferred already outdated gameplay methods. Envy is when one adores a product and bashes the other even though he/she may actually want to get both. They have the attitude of “I want both, but since I can only get one, I’ll bash the other so I don’t feel bad”. A very infamous example is the recent Gears of War 2/Resistance 2 fanboy war, where the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners would bash each others’ game. What was noteworthy was that nearly all of the flamers owned only one of either systems, justifying how they dealt with their envious insecurity.

     So there you have it, a decent look into the world of fanboyism. It may be a weird and annoying psychology, but there is also human nature involved in their way of thinking. So long as these kinds of changes and competitions exist, expect somewhat to start flaming the web about how bad it is. Face it. You can’t please everyone. If you find out that a thread is filled with bias and unjustified statements, you ought to either ignore it, or try to reason it out. If you happen to be a fanboy yourself, I hope you at least realize what you’ve become and at least become more decent in your reasoning.

     I hope you guys enjoyed this article. Also Windows 7 Journal Episode 6 is coming soon, so stay tuned!

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~ by Ian on April 20, 2009.

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