Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fanboys Are Crazy

What is a "fanboy?" A fanboy is usually a male fan of ___________ who becomes obsessed and acts overexcited, overly-passionate, and over-protective of whatever they are obsessing over.

Many people associate "fanboy" with the gaming world. But these days, it seems fanboys have taken over just about everything.

And fanboys are no longer just "boys" anymore. Just think back to when the Twilight series came out and all the girls (and their mothers) were literally FREAKING out over the books and movies.

Most recently, I've been hearing from all the Star Wars fanboys who are having aneurisms over The Last Jedi. It's one thing to not like a movie, or even hate it enough to say they are quitting the franchise or boycotting anything Disney. They feel betrayed by the director and by Disney for not portraying their favorite characters in ways that they expected or demanded.

Why are people so obsessed with stuff lately? Whether they have to buy the latest and greatest Apple product, or if everything they wear has to be Nike...fanboy-ism is all around us.

Big companies know how psychology works, and they market their products in such a way to strike a nerve and make us want to buy them. Then they work hard to make customers loyal customers. For many of us, it stops there. But to a certain percentage of these loyal customers, they take brand loyalty to a whole new level.

Psychologists believe that fanboy-level obsession stems from the social identity phenomenon. The social identity theory is essentially how your idea of who you are is derived from the group you connect with. Christians, athletes, Liberals, Californians, Vegans, Dallas Cowboy Fans....it doesn't matter what the group is. People tend to extend preferential treatment to those in their group and develop an "us vs them" mentality if competition is involved (i.e. Apple vs Android).

We live in a world that wants us to pick a side. We also now live in a world that expects us to defend whatever side you pick with extreme rigor. Everything seems so extreme these days, doesn't it? Fanboys place their identities with "their side" to the point where any criticism they receive is either flatly discounted, denied, argued against, and then redirected right back at the critic. Fans of opposing teams will fight in the stands. Opposing political parties will beat each other up in the streets. Longtime friend with opposing views will un-friend each other on Facebook.

It's the job of marketers, brand managers, and campaigners to persuade and entice people to join "their side," and they have been amazingly good at it. Then again, our desire to belong and be a part of an exclusive community makes us easy targets.

We are living in the Age of Fanboys.

God help us.

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said, Jay! You echo part of what I said in my post this week about extreme haters and when something isn't exactly how they want it. (Like The Last Jedi.) People are taking extreme sides and it's all or nothing.
I'm a fan of the band Rush but I'm not going to have a meltdown just because they've decided they will never tour again. Going to Rush concerts does not define my life.

Pat Dilloway said...

The Internet certainly helps foster tribalism. It's been that way since the age of Usenet newsgroups and the like, separating people into factions. Though I usually end up clashing with the tribe. lol

I'm not going to boycott Star Wars or Disney or anything but it's the most annoyed I've been for paying for a movie in the theater since I watched Transformers Revenge of the Fallen.

Pat Hatt said...

lmao yep, rather pathetic as can be when you really think about it. Like their like is going to end. A cult without actually calling it a cult for some things.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've wondered about this. Part of me wonders if, as a society, we aren't replacing spirituality with sports teams, movies, etc. I began to wonder that when a friend of mine flipped out over the changes in an X Men movie . She defended the integrity of the characters to act thus and so like a true believer would defend religious doctrine.

Or maybe we've always been this obsessive about things and social media just gives people a platform to vent.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think Elizabeth is right on both counts. We are just more connected and see it more. We should defend our moral principles but stuff is just stuff and in the end that doesn't really matter.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Eh. I've been around people who are never excited about anything. Low motivation...uncaring...apathy. I'll take excited fan gushing over that any day. I know that I make a conscious choice to be excited about things, i.e., movies, books, events, etc. You can either engage with life and things happening around you or you can completely disengage with it. I think the difference between being a fan and tribalism is that, with tribalism, it takes an additional step by saying, "What you believe is wrong, and my happiness in life depends on you toeing the line...specifically...my line...by force if necessary."

Maurice Mitchell said...

Marketing is all about putting people in buckets and then presupposing things about them. As long as its profitable to homogenize people it’ll get worse.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You're so right, Jay. I love the TV show The 100 but the crazy fans for it have attacked the writers and actors, chasing them off social media. It's weird and disturbed. Don't they have real lives?

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