Apple: The World's Most Expensive Religion (Besides Scientology)
Why are Apple fans so dismissive of the latest piece of Android hardware? And why are Android fanboys so vicious when it comes to commenting on anything Apple? The answer certainly has something to do with brand loyalty – but until recently the extent of that loyalty hasn't been fully understood. Why do catty remarks populate the comments section on so many blog posts about Tim Cook or the newest budget Android phone? Folks have divided themselves into camps which they defend with religious ferver. On the outside, it all looks a bit insane, but it turns out there are neurological reasons why the debate has become so polarized. According to research by the BBC, certain brands trigger the same reaction in fans as religious iconography triggers in the faithful.
A Neurological Basis for Fanboyism
In the BBC series, "Superbrand" the producers met with a die hard Apple fan named Alex Brooks who claims he thinks about Apple "24 hours a day." A team of neuroscientists decided to devise a test: they placed products in front of him while hooking his brain up to an MRI scanner. What they found is that there were marked differences in the way his brain reacted to the different products. Apple products "triggered the same bits of Brooks' brain as religious imagery triggers in a person of faith."
Taking the analogy further, we can find even more parallels. Brands – like religions – offer people a certain level of security. Both have their own cultural connotations which some are more than happy to slapped on to them (Apple = creative! individualistic! Christians = pure! saved! etc., etc.). And there are drawbacks to such rabid fanboy identification, just as there are drawbacks to believing in only your relgion. Most egregiously, folks who believe a certain product to be the best for them tend to want to convince the rest of the world that they are right – and there seems to be a complete lack of understanding for people who might "think different (ly)".
Of course it's fine to argue, but with such vitriolic rhetoric, it sometimes sounds as if Apple or Android fans want to send the other to the guillotine. If Apple fans see Steve Jobs as the Virgin Mary and Android fans see the green robot as the son of God, there isn't a lot of breathing space to have a rational discussion about tech specs, is there?