Seems like former Wall Street Journal technology reviewer Walt Mossberg isn’t in the mood for aggressive comments these days.
In his first article at re/code, he “schools” those who are intolerant of others’ opinions and exhibit religious devotion to their chosen platform.
While Walt tries to be objective, two subtle clues hint at the source of his frustration.
One is the headline: It’s Not a Church, It’s Just an Apple Store. The other is his main visual: New York’s iconic Apple Store Fifth Avenue.
I don’t really mind that Walt makes Apple fans the poster children for his article. You have to get those clicks somehow.
And it’s not like this is anything new. Badly-mannered zealots have been among us, on every platform, for decades — just as they have been in politics. It’s actually more of a human thing than a technology thing.
What’s out of whack for me is Walt’s very first paragraph. For a guy whose life revolves around technology, he expresses a surprisingly cynical view of technology companies:
Attention fanboys and fangirls: Your favorite tech hardware, software and services are not religious objects. And the companies that make them aren’t cults or faiths. They are capitalist enterprises, out to make a profit, grab market share, and, if they can, make products you will buy.
To say that tech companies exist to make money, grab market share and make alluring products is like saying human beings exist to eat food, have sex and do things.
It’s a little deeper than that.
Every company has a soul. Every company has a distinct set of values that colors its priorities and behaviors. Companies believe in different things to different degrees, including innovation, value, quality, freedom, choice, price, and so on. This unique mix is visible in a company’s products.
Consciously or subconsciously, people tend to gravitate toward companies that share their values. That’s why marketing works.
And so, as one would expect, people express their opinions. Some do it quietly. Others build shrines in their bedrooms and write angry notes to tech columnists.
That’s life in the free world.
Like Walt, I wish the raving intolerants weren’t out there. However, since human behavior isn’t likely to change for a few millennia, I’ll go out on a limb and say that Walt’s column won’t create a new breed of gentler commenters.
But — feel free to blast me mercilessly for saying it out loud.