The Accidental Irony of Mobs

No, I’m not going to bash the “MSM” (Main Stream Media), the TLA that the vituperative Right Wingers like to use as pejorative. Be nice, they think they’re being clever.

The Media aren’t liberal (or even Liberal), they’re whores. Headline whores in print, Click-whores on the intarwebs.

Now, I love It’s one that I visit every day. Sometimes multiple times every day: immediate stuff during the day, and more editorial-type stuff in the evenings (Joan Walsh rocks my world), but no media source, no personal source, no expression of opinion by anyone who’s every lived upon this nutty little rock we call home, is free from error.

Farhad Manjoo is a staff writer, San Franciscan, general gadget and tech geek, and all-around reasonable fellow. He’s more accessible (in topic, in text and, it seems, personally) than one might have any reason to expect, no matter the egalitarian byproduct of the web.

He’s written a book: True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, and being that the book speaks to the same general realm to the same general audience as he column, hell, why not excerpt it and kill two birds with one stone? I don’t blame him for that (in fact, I’m chipping in my humble help in selling his book for him: links galore!).

I do, however, have concerns about a lack of alternate explanations when he speaks about “Apple fanbois” and comments on articles about Apple products. There are plenty of batshit crazy commenters who, like he says in the excerpt/column “Why Apple fans hate tech reporters” look for any reason to stage a nutty. Strangely though, I know no one in real life who reason flies out the window because someone wished Macs came with card slots. Anyhoo, if you’re at all interested in the topic, please go read the article.

I don’t have a problem with him exposing the rabid Apple fans. What I have a problem with is that he never goes any further, never qualifies it with context or percentages or, well anything else; it’s a simple declarative. Now I suppose that he never really claims to be an investigative journalist, but I’d hope he might have a theory-making facility in his head that might go looking for historical and causal elements for what has brought so many Apple fans to that beyond-reason state of mind. He doesn’t even bother to muse about it, implying that rabies befell the Apple fans and they dropped into his world, intact and crazy.

But such knee-jerk behavior doesn’t spontaneously occur. In fact, the most common (I’m guessing) way that people arrive at such straits comes from years and years of having to challenge misinformation, having to abide snarky dismissal, and often, well, having to do the reporter’s job for him/her, only to be thanked by being rounded up into a group that you can easily, snarkily dismiss and then broadcast (from your taller pulpit) misinformation about these “kinds of people”.

Before, during and after my tenure at the Mothership, I find so much misinformation out there that I get all fired up (this stuff affects my professional ecosystem, after all) and get ready to post, only to think twice: I’ll be dismissed as “one of them” no matter how eloquent nor researched nor level-headed I am. And that’s too bad.

But Manjoo gets paid for this shit. He should know better. He works for, so in my opinion, his standards should be significantly higher that just anyone’s.

And what’s happening here, at least with the genuine (more on that in a bit) pro-Apple commenters, is the classic minority v. majority pattern, and I can think of a few alternate explanations right off the top of my head:

  • years of published misinformation, being corrected by commenters who get ‘no joy’—nor do they ever see corrections
  • Trolls. Good lord! He doesn’t even mention malicious commenters amping things up.
  • Anti-Apple spoilers posting as “Mac fanbois”, adding to the bad reputation

I wonder if any of these things crossed Manjoo’s mind. I’d like to think it’s ignorance and not malice. Nuance and complexity certainly water down the sensationalism. Meaning less inflamatory headlines, meaning less clicks, meaning fewer opportunities to whore, meaning, well, less pay/interest/reading.

M501-1186-main2-ca.jpg He even comes out and asks, “Why are Mac fans so quick to see bias everywhere?” but he never answers it. Why are generalist tech writers who write about the Mac so quick to see bias everywhere?. Instead he trots out reactions to—get this—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! Ridiculous. But Mr. Manjoo? I’ll answer your question directly: it all started with “The Macintosh is just a graphical toy” (c.1984) and it hasn’t let up since. Another example: someone gets bent out of shape because Mossberg complained about the iMac not having cardslots? Asked and answered a bazillion times: Steve don’t like seams and aesthetic clutter on surfaces; oh, and how many card types are out there now? The pic to the right is a 64-in-1 card reader. Price? $14.99. Anecdotally, the last card I used was a first-generation iPod shuffle and I used it (shhhh) to boot my Apple TV from when I was hacking around with it. Can’t imagine why anyone would be frustrated to have to answer already-asked-and-answered questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Apple fans don’t hate tech reporters, they hate a lack of research by tech reporters. And, they hate Rob Enderle. Hint to the would-be Apple fanbois out there: if you read an article, STOP reading if you see Enderle as a quoted source. Do it for the children.

Which sucks less? A fervent fan who defends his likes, a spoiler who only knows how to play the spoiler, or a reporter who doesn’t know the difference and doesn’t bother to learn?