A life lived without passions for ideas or other people is a boring existence. However, a life lived with a fiery passion for things or ideas without respect for others and their opinions is a self centered life which damages the humanity of those which it touches.
There are some things which are central to my being. I believe that helping others achieve their reasonable goals in life is a good way to live. I strive to make any relationship or place where my presence has been felt better for my having been there. After over sixty years, I am enough of a realist to know that this will not always happen.
People interpret things differently. Often people hear different things when others speak or even read the same words and come up with different meanings. Just look at the Second amendment. Its vague wording taken out of the context of time is something that people are willing to fight about hundreds of years later.
It is not just words on paper or the Internet that can drive people to disagreement. In our material world people can get very emotional about things. We all have a bias towards things we like or perhaps the ones which have an important place in our lives.
I have raised Angus cattle, sold Vermeer round balers, and worked at Apple selling their computers. To effectively sell a product, you need to believe in it and it is actually best if you know the product through using it yourself.
When I chose to raise Angus cattle while living the Canadian Maritimes, I did not pick the most popular breed in the area. I actually picked the breed which I thought would help me be successful. Angus have a hard won reputation as cows which produce calves that need little or no assistance. It turned out in the ten years that we had cattle, we probably had over five hundred calves born in our woods. I might have helped two or three calves be born. We had the vet on a farm a couple times for a sick animal. Angus lived up to their reputation for us.
Similarly I picked Vermeer balers for their reputation for quality and dependability. They worked well for me, and I sold several to other people. I could sell them easily because like most other Vermeer dealers I used the balers in our own operation. I used round balers at time when provincial agriculture people painted those of us using them as crazy. When I traveled back to New Brunswick in the fall of 2012, thirty years after we sold all our cattle, I found every remaining cattle farmer using round balers.
When I went to work for Apple computer in 1984, I had already been selling computers, both Apples and PCs, for a couple of years. The Macintosh had been on the market for a few months when I joined Apple. I thought the Mac with its graphical user interface and WSIWYG display was a better way for computer users to get their work done. I stayed at Apple nearly twenty years, but along the way a lot changed, computers became more similar than dissimilar. I learned that in some environments people were very happy with their Windows computers.
Also during my time selling Apple computers, I ran into users who were so in love with the Macintosh and the whole idea of Apple that they made our job of selling Macintoshes into the enterprise harder not easier. Some of them pushed the Macintosh so relentlessly that CIOs did not even want to hear the word Macintosh. These lovers of Macs were perhaps the first "fanboys" that I encountered.
While I might have disagreed with a neighbor's choice of Hereford cattle instead of Angus, we were still neighbors and cattlemen. We were more alike than different. Similarly if someone bought an International or John Deere Round baler, we were all still considered crazy by the department of agriculture and besides that I had both John Deere and International tractors on our farm.
No long ago I had an idea that revolved around the supposition that most Apple users will pretty well blindly follow Apple wherever it leads. The second part of the idea was that Apple users have a fundamentally different relationship with Apple than Microsoft users have with Microsoft.
I backed my thoughts up with Apple users who are used to the idea that if there is a problem with their computer or iPhone, they are actually the cause of the problem. While I overstated my case to make a point, I do find that many Apple users are less demanding of Apple than Microsoft users are of Microsoft. Fortunately there is a wide range of users in both camps. There are some vocal Apple ones and also some acquiescent Microsoft ones.
My idea did not go anywhere, but it was one of things that just are not worth fighting over. Who really cares whether or Apple users are more like sheep than Microsoft users. Even if I made the argument would anyone remember it a couple years from now? The answer of course is no. It was only a thought and I did not care to fight over it.
Of course many things you write about are that way. Unfortunately people take them far more seriously.
There are those who are so in love with an iPhone or an iPad, that the slightest hint their products are not worthy of worship brings out a personal attack on the writer. As is often the case, the worst comments are from those whose identities are usually at best hidden behind an online moniker and at worst "anonymous." While I have written about this issue before in the "The not so amazing lack of civility on the web," it still bothers me that I can be attacked as a person for something as simple as an opinion about a product.
Surely we have become civilized enough to agree that the happiness in your life is not dependent on whether you are using iOS or Android as your tablet or smartphone operating system. Isn't it possible that my opinion might be worth thoughtful consideration instead of condemnation?
Even if I might disagree with you on the second amendment, perhaps I am entitled to my opinion without verbal abuse from someone else. It is just an opinion, I have not tried to have my thoughts turned into law.
If we end up living in a society where no one can disagree with a vocal minority or even majority, haven't we let ourselves become less civilized?
John Biggs offers some advice in his Agony of the Fanboy,
" Maybe you’re wrong. Understand this when you attack someone for what they’ve written: maybe they’re right."
And I would say amen to this from John.
"Let’s not fight. There’s beer to drink. There are people to woo and befriend. There are songs to be sung and board games to play."
And then I might add...
There is bread to bake, steaks to cook, along with miles of beaches and hundreds of square miles of water to explore. Let us not forget all the birds to watch and photograph and that there are a few fish left to chase and catch. Finally, I would rather end up your friend than your enemy.