The Versus cover story this month turned out to be an eye opener of sorts for the entire team. It made us look inward and question our belief systems, analyse our individual biases, and even doubt what we took for granted – are we geeks or hipsters?
At its core the cover story attempts to take on some of the biggest technology battles in geekdom. Our kind has been known to have perhaps the most polarised opinions out there, especially when it comes to the technology – that which we’re obsessed about. For years these polarised opinions have been the cause of many a heated argument (at the very least); be it the platform wars, the OS wars, or even the slightly more rabid console wars. There’s also this supreme zeal with which those opinions and ideologies are defended. This got me thinking about why rabid followings and such extreme opinions arise in the first place. It almost seems like there’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a gadget in his hand. And the answer was right there – obsession.
Think of each time you’ve defended iOS with the standard “everything just works” argument, or Android with the “it’s open source” or “it’s customisable” rant. Think of how much you love your Windows Phone or the way you look down on Mac users who’ll use no more than their browser but ask you to “make the switch” at every given opportunity. Think of the amount of time spent reading articles, watching videos, absorbing stats, about the object of this obsession of yours. Over time you’ve gathered so much esoteric knowledge and invested so much time, you have no option but to take a stand.
The halo effect will make you go even a step further and almost worship the brands, too. Soon you seem to not look at say, Google, as the company behind the Nexus 5 or Apple as the maker of the iPhone 5S but rather as parties vying for your vote – which in the current state of affairs is ironic considering #NaMo, #AAP, #RaGa, or maybe #NOTA deserve your undivided attention. What happens with gadgets is instead of buying into products you end up buying into ideologies.
But what about me personally, or any of the writers here at Digit? We too have our preferences within the team sure, things that we’ve been passionate about for years. But we have no favourites. How do we, bonafide geeks, manage to remain unbiased when the technology world seems to be getting more and more polarised with every passing moment? And the difference dawned.
For us, the devices come and go. We get them for free, we get excited about them, we enjoy them for the time they’re with us, we critique them to bits but thankfully we don’t get rabid about them. Why? Maybe because we don’t make a monetary investment in them. The only investment is our time. The obsession is still there: we all live and breathe technology day in and day out but the obsession is divided between both factions. This kind of a balanced obsession or passion leads us to dig deep into any subject. Other than the monetary investment, what makes most geeks violent supporters of a “cause” is the amount of time that they invest in one side. No one wants to be wrong, right? Say you’ve invested a lot of time solely on Google – you like their don’t be evil policy, but suddenly one fine day they go ahead and do something horrible – bribe policy makers, throw privacy out the window, or end up monopolising the web – what do you do? Do you rationalise and continue supporting them or admit your misguided fanaticism? Most likely the former.
With us we invest time equally as well. So whether it’s minute architectural differences between the latest NVIDIA and AMD refresh or even unbiased facts (not opinions) on whether PhysX can or cannot be enabled irrespective of the card or whether it makes a difference in the first place, or how 3GB of RAM leverages itself on a multi-monitor setup – we present both sides.
Unbiased obsession enables this bi-partisan curiosity, it enables the mind to be open to a flood gate of knowledge, and if you’re lucky, an obsession can even get you paid some day. But fanaticism? Not so much. As long as you’re willing to step back and look inward a little every now and then, maybe obsession is good. Obsession clarifies.