evangelism, fanaticism and computers

Have you noticed lately that there seems to be no middle ground any more? Almost everyone will tell you that “this thing” is absolutely the best!   Take computers for instance, probably the most obvious example of this around. The boys (and girls) in the Apple camp will absolutely swear to you that Macs are the best, fastest, neatest, coolest computers in the universe and PCs (most especially Windows PCs) are crap. At the same time the Windows aficionados will tell you that Macs compare favorably with a crushed styrofoam cup, have no software, don’t play games and are generally useless. The two camps are vehemently (sometimes violently) opposed, neither giving the slightest ground to the other side.

However it’s not just computers we tend to be fanatic about. We tend to be fanatical about a great many things. Every Christmas thousands of parents will race through department stores fighting, scrapping and swearing their way through the toy ailses to get that cabbage patch doll, tickle me elmo, Xbox 360 or whatever the toy of the year is. How many times have you heard of people lined up outside a Krispy Kream doughnut shop for days waiting to get the first doughnuts served up. The patrons telling you that “you absolutely must get them when they are still warm and sticky”.

Have you ever watched a World Cup soccer game? Do you really think the ten thousand fans who rush on to the field to tear the Italian ref limb from limb because of a bad call that gave the game to Holland over Brazil are sane rational people? No, they are raving fanatics, totally obsessed with the game, winning and their team.  We tend to be fanatic about just about everything computers, sports, fast foods, cars, celebrities and a host of unmentionables like politics and religion.

Why is that I wonder? Isn’t it enough to say I really like that and it’s ok if you are not so crazy about it? Empirical evidence would say that the opposite is true. I am really crazy about something and well you had better be too dammit! It’s not that we want to share our enthusiasm for this thing with you, built in to our psyche is the need to impose our enthusiasm on you. Trouble is, we’re all different in a lot of ways, having disparate   likes and dislikes, so this enthusiasm gets us into a whole lot of trouble. We should all just chill out a bit.  It’s equally ok that I don’t like Krispy Kream doughnuts and you are not enamored of Macs.  just chill.

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