Last night I tweeted at John Gruber and MG Siegler: "What a load of horseshit. All due respect, but horseshit."
The tweet was in reference to a post on Daring Fireball citing MG's "review" of the Galaxy Nexus. Now, I won't take issue with his review overall. He's entitled to his opinions, and while I certainly disagree with many of his points, I won't knock him because we don't see eye to eye.
I want to state clearly that this isn't about MG and John, who I think are smart guys with lots of really spot on opinions and observations. This is about a particular line of thinking that I fundamentally disagree with (and think is ultimately damaging to our community).
What set me off last night, and what I continue to be unsettled by today, is the passage which Gruber quotes — and ultimately agrees with:
Unfortunately, the system still lacks much of the fine polish that iOS users enjoy. The majority of Android users will probably think such criticism is bullshit, but that has always been the case. I imagine it’s probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better when both machines get them from point A to point B. As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it — I’d have to experience it to understand it, I imagine. And most Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences.
Gruber then adds: "You either see it or you don't."
This doesn't get under my skin because I have some kind of allegiance to one brand or another. It doesn't get under my skin because I fundamentally disagree that Android 4.0 lacks the polish of iOS.
It gets under my skin because it is a pompous, privileged, insulting, and myopic viewpoint which reeks of class warfare — and it is indicative of a growing sentiment I see amongst people in the tech community.
And... it's a shitty way to think about other people.
Let's take this point by point.
1: Android users will take criticism about polish as "bullshit."
This is pretty great for MG, because right off the bat he's able to dismiss any arguments which run counter to his by generalizing the entire userbase of Android as confrontational.
2: "It's probably hard for a Mercedes owner to describe to a Honda owner how attention to detail makes their driving experience better." Or rather, it's hard for a rich person to explain to a middle- or low-income person why expensive things are empirically better.
This is so outrageous and insulting, it's hard to believe MG could type the words without being embarrassed and quickly deleting them.
I mean, sidenote to MG — read your words out loud. How are you not embarrassed by them?
For starters, it assumes a childish, simplistic, and pedantic worldview: expensive things or those that are ascribed more value by a segment of the population are inherently "better" than other things. Obviously everyone wants and needs the more expensive thing if they have an opportunity to get it. The Mercedes really is better than the Honda.
It assumes that given the situation, you would always choose the more expensive item, and that your needs or wants couldn't possibly be out of alignment with the features or luxury offered by a more expensive product.
More insultingly, it suggests that as a person who is not part of whatever elite group MG believes exists, you couldn't even really understand why the Mercedes is superior.
As a friend of mine said to me when discussing my tweet, just because you give consumer goods different values than I do doesn't mean you don't / can't know what I know.
To suggest that that's the case here is offensive.
3: "As a Honda owner myself, I’m not sure I would buy it."
Oh okay, MG owns a Honda, so I shouldn't be offended by his previous statements. He's one of us.
4: "Android lovers are not going to spend enough time with iOS to fully appreciate the differences."
Android owners won't spend time with the device to understand how great it is. You need to spend a lot of time with an iOS device to fully appreciate how great it is.
See also: number 1.
5: "You either see it or you don't."
The world is not black and white. It's really, really gray. You can see it and not care. You can see it and love it. You can see it and hate it. You can see it but need something else. You can see it, and yet see other things too.
I've spent years testing phones and mobile devices. I've probably used every significant smartphone that's been released in the past 5 years, and then some. I love Apple products and I see the beauty, refinement, and care taken in the iPhone and iOS. I see it.
I don't disagree with Gruber and MG. The iPhone is an amazing device. But it's not the only amazing device, and I wouldn't want to live in a world where it is.
Let's not let our preferences (and that's all they are, preferences, not empirical facts) dictate how we think about and relate to other people.
Not seeing it is not the issue — the issue is not being able to see it any other way.