Essays on Technology and Culture

Value What People Love

Whatever you’re looking for, it’s easy to find a bad review of it. Type a company, or a product, or a band, or anything into Google, followed by “sucks,” and you’re guaranteed results. People can wax poetic for pages about what is bad, what’s worse than bad, and why anyone who likes a certain thing is wrong, wrong, wrong. Since it’s so easy to toss out vitriol over stuff that “sucks,” there’s little value to negative reviews. Reading Roger Ebert’s review of Freddy Got Fingered is a great entertainment value. When buying technology, it helps to know if a lot of people opened the box to find the item won’t actually turn on, but there’s little beyond that. If the number of one-star reviews outnumbers the number of four and five star reviews, that’s all you need.

It’s still easy to get caught up in the negativity vortex around opinions on culture, technology, and politics. That’s because it’s easy to be negative. To embrace and love something is much harder. I’d rather read someone’s effluent praise of a product or album than a million negative reviews that boil down to “shit sux.” These aren’t going to change anyone’s opinion on matters that are religious in nature. Remember, nobody thinks they’re stupid, and everybody has their reasons. Unless someone’s choices directly affects you, your opinion is nothing more than that. If only we all could agree on that…

And at the risk of stirring up some partisan sentiment, I have to admit that I have only rarely ever heard anyone say they love a Microsoft product. They may like it, prefer it, or exist anywhere on a spectrum that only rarely goes into “love” territory. The same emotional attachment that attracts Apple fas is the same thing that repels its vehement detractors. And you can replace “Apple” in that sentence with nearly any other divisive item. Some suggestions: “Justin Bieber,” “cities,” “football.” They stir up the tribal instinct, the narcissism of minor differences, and split us into “us” and “them.”

Nobody talks up things they don’t really have an opinion on. Nobody sings the praises of beige. The extremes of love and hate are what drive us to share opinions, for good or for ill. It’s the things we love, however, that say more about us than what we hate. However, sharing what we love opens us up to the attack from the haters. That might explain the apathetic way some people discuss culture, politics, or tech. Better to not express a strong opinion any way, so as not to rile anyone up. That’s all the more reason to glom on to those people who sing the praises of what they love to the world. They share their true self, not the posturing avatar of what they want to be seen as. Even if you don’t agree, they are the ones worthy of your consideration when evaluating anything.