5 Things People Defend (for no reason)

1. Soda/Pop

People are oddly passionate about beverages but for the most part care very little about turning your preference of hydration into some kind of boyish spitting contest…except when it comes to the colas. Here’s a fun experiment: Log onto some kind of life-depreciating social network (like Twitter or Facebook) and simply type in “Coke or Pepsi?” People can’t help themselves. It will begin with a few people (that follow you relentlessly) stating their personal preference or maybe even pressing “like” under your status update. After you mother and the older women from your church put their friendly replies, prepare for the passive aggressive comments of people who not only prefer Coke but would like to communicate that anyone preferring Pepsi probably also …(insert culturally relevant derogatory label). Yeah you’ll have the dude who can’t answer the question and throws out Mt. Dew or Dr. Pepper, but the real die hards will claim that not only do they like Pepsi but they can’t even stand to drink Coke. It’s as if you prefer one, the other manifests itself to your taste buds as toxic waste.

this is how i feel when i drink pepsi

Isn’t this just weird? I mean it’s SODA! Who cares what people prefer!? Did you invent the cola recipe for Coke? Do you own stock in Pepsi? I don’t think so! The thing about taste is that it is unique to the individual and though there are many common denominators (like who doesn’t enjoy monkey bread?) One person who likes Coke over Pepsi is not only acceptable, but completely arbitrary. It matters very little in the grand scheme of things.

I know people who will shy away from restaurants that serve Pepsi rather than Coke. While I agree that it’s annoying when you can’t get what you really want, there’s no need to take it out on the waitress for asking of the alternate is “okay” or to burn the store down because Pepsi products is what they chose to serve.

2. Mobile Phone Network Provider

If you do much internet browsing you probably notice that people get fired up about service providers especially when it comes to mobile phones. People get hooked up with a network and it nearly becomes “til death do us part.” Then it gets crazy. The very existence of other carriers and the fact that other people would dare use them seems to be one cosmic “your mom” joke aimed at the person who will go to the grave defending a network they know absolutely nothing about.

Let’s back that up and review the last point. It’s a network that the average user knows absolutely nothing about. I’m willing to bet that the fine legal and technical details of these mobile companies are rarely read and/or understood by the consumer. That’s because the consumer is consumed (pun intended) with one thing: the phone. So why then do people get so worked up over other mobile companies? If I could explain that, this post would’ve been labeled 5 Things People Defend (with good reason).

If you don’t believe me, check out digg.com and do a search for any news story about AT&T. Then look at the comments and prepare to have your soul sucked right out of your face by all the hate. I have used AT&T since I bought my first cell phone back in 2003(?) and haven’t really had any problems (except that there is no coverage in Malvern, OH). I have only ever used one other provider (U.S. Cellular) and it seemed just about the same. I read news story after news story about cell phones and technology and it never fails – everyone with an opinion seems to also be an expert on the subject. Their review almost always goes like this: I live in _______and I have Sprint and it dropped calls all the time so SPRINT SUCKS and Verizon is the best because it works!! That’s it? That’s the extent of your review? You are defending (or attacking, really) based on what exactly?

digg claims another soul

3. Vehicle Companies

How many acrostics do you know for FORD? First on Race Day. F(&$@ Over Rebuilt Dodge. Fix Or Repair Daily. Found On Road Dead. Fix Or Recycle Dilemma. (haha I laughed at that last one). Wow, someone really dislikes FORD.

When I was a kid, we had a FORD mini-van. And my pride for FORD swelled in my chest as if I built the machines by hand. From scratch. I couldn’t tell you exactly why we owned this vehicle, how many other vans we looked at, what kind of deal we got, or even how it compared to similarly priced vehicles. But we HAD A FORD and that was all the arsenal I needed to launch a smear campaign against anyone who drove a Chevy. The only problem is that Chevy didn’t have easy to use acrostics and I had no real proof of FORD’s dominance in the field of performance so I (and thousands like me) simply had to resort to name calling and punching.

“oh yeah well…Crybaby Helper Even Very Your(stupid)…”

There are dozens of reasons people buy a car over another. It’s never as simple as one company being the best and all the rest sucking.But this is exactly how someone will try to make you feel when they found out you purchased the new Kia Sedona. Do they really think everyone on the entire planet earth is a moron for not getting the same exact car they did? You have to think awfully high of yourself to think that only those who are driving around in their Honda Civics are cunning enough to make such a wise purchase.

4. Computers

Mac vs. PC, Chrome vs. Firefox, Nvidia vs. ATI, WordPress vs. Blogger…..the world of computers and web tools is a veritable wasteland of condescending attitudes toward those who purchase or use technology that the most outspoken person has deemed obsolete, degenerate, or trendy.

Apple is in the spotlight right now. They generate maybe half (a guess) of the computer and mobile device news worth reporting despite still have a very narrow margin of the computer, web browser, and smart phone market. Everything the company does goes under strict observation and people rush in to either defend or bash depending on what side they have chosen.

But what was the point in choosing sides in the first place? Who really cares if I go and buy and Mac and like it? So you think I paid too much or am simply purchasing branding? WHY DO YOU CARE? I’ve owned a Mac for 5 years. I’ve used PCs for work, school, and even bought a new PC a few months ago for home use. I seem to be able to handle owning, using, and enjoying both, and feel like all those purchases have been worthwhile investments. So what is the deal with people who defend their choice as if buying one means hating the other?

I follow most news reports from both Macrumos (a site about all things Apple) and Maximum PC. Maximum PC which is, as you’d expect, to be slighted when it comes to apple product yet still reports on almost every news story that I’ve seen on Macrumors. This is the part I find funny…depending on which site you read the story, the comments either love Apple or wish Steve Jobs would be trapped in a sheet of glass and blasted into space.

it has been done before Mr. Jobs

The other day, I read a favorable review of Apple’s new iPad on maximumpc.com. In the comments someone actually wrote “I thought this was Maximum PC! Why would you review this item and give it a good score?!” It was almost as if he was saying “whose side are you on, anyway?” Did anyone have the heart to tell him that there are no sides?

5. Sports Teams

I love sports! HAHAHAHAHA just kidding. I’ve saved the biggest oxymoron for last! Sports teams are, without question, the most frivolous thing to defend that people live and die for. I should clarify that it’s frivolous for the spectator. And “die?” you might wonder? Yeah, people literally fight for their team’s honor often resulting in beatings and killings (see Soccer).

Ok most aren’t that extreme, but I have friends who can’t even enjoy a game/sport if their team, nay their city, isn’t getting the glory. Or worse when they’ve chosen a rival and want to just see them fail for their whole existence despite being completely removed from the competition.

The whole thing is a joke because the spectator has nothing substantial invested in “their” team. Watching the TV, buying the jersey, writing scathing remarks about your rival do absolutely nothing to help your favored team perform above the rest. I could understand if any of these people played, coached, managed, owned, or had any real investment in “their” team but they don’t, so defending your team so heavily feels misplaced.

It may simply boil down to a regional matter (I like team A because I was born near city A) but I don’t see how that justifies getting so defensive, or worse believing that you are better than other people over some game or team allegiance. Some people jeer or “razz” fans of other teams in a playful way, but others build genuine hate for people, teams (which are just other people), cities, regions, and countries because “last Thursday and many Thursdays before that, your team bested my team in a game of basketball.”

It’s not like it’s as simple as being cheerful when your team wins and sad when your team loses, but people get mean, aggressive, and rude toward others simply for liking another team (for the same arbitrary reasons!). And sometimes beer is involved.

I wouldn’t call myself a Cubs fan for two reasons. First, I think you have to show a certain level of interest above not having watched a single Cubs game in 3 years before you can be considered even a mild fan. The second reason is that if I tell someone I’m a Cubs fan, I have to deal with other people being condescending and feeling foolish undeserving. So I choose to admit that I don’t watch baseball (don’t even like it) and am not a fan of any team. This way, I can turn things around and be condescending toward people who were seconds away from judging me based on something so small as having a favorite baseball team.

So here’s where you get to chime in! (I don’t normally do this here, but considering these subjects get people riled up I’m giving it a shot). Why do YOU think people defend these 5 things so much? I have my theories, but I want to hear everyone else’s’ thoughts first.


15 thoughts on “5 Things People Defend (for no reason)

  1. I don’t have an intellectually sound reason as to why people defend the things you’ve listed. I guess it just boils down to stupid people vs. everyone else.

    By the way, I would have included gaming consoles in the list. Apparently, I’m a 5 year old because I own a Wii and not a 360 or PS3.

  2. Z, I had strongly considered including video game consoles in this article. What you say about the image of Nintendo is dead on – does entertainment for adults mean sex, violence, and overpriced hardware? Is there something childish about tennis? I’ve never even seen a child play tennis!

    The reason I didn’t include them was because 1) I felt I couldn’t make many strong points without being redundant with my thoughts on computers. Technology as a whole functions like that in the minds of consumers. 2) I feel like the elitist mentality of hardcore gamers isn’t as widely recognized by people (like sport fanaticism, for example). In other words, I wasn’t sure people reading this post would identify unless they were into video games.

    (not that that ever stopped me from writing about video games!)

  3. COKE!! Just kidding,
    I don’t know why people are so territorial about the areas you mentioned. I do have some theories. Aside from the fanatical sports addicts, In think most people talk, argue, joke, etc. about these topics because it gives them something to talk about. They have something in common if they can talk about the Bears and the Packers. Slightly deeper is the theory that sports are a substitute for war with other tribes. I just wish we could get the Palestinians and Israelis to take that approach.

  4. Maybe we just want to believe that our opinion matters. Social networking seems to bring this out even more in a crazy way, as people debate the merits of whatever. Finally, we have a huge platform to tell our own version of the story.

    If I could control the world it would be Coke, by the way.

  5. I think the reason people argue about this stuff is just a little bit further down the road from Tim’s comment. I think it give people something to talk about that wouldn’t have anything to discuss otherwise, but it also allows them to immediately get the upper hand as well. There is nothing like being able to freely engage total strangers on common ground and then dominate them.

    Also for many it is a way to relive high school glory days when their lives peeked at 17 during a game. We should focus on common ground like “no one should ever get payed millions of dollars to throw a ball.”

    1. i understand why people say people shouldnt be able to get payed that much for sports, and i, even as a sports fan, agreed with that. until one day a teacher of mine brought up the fact that they put there body through lots and lots of vigorous work for a short time to make money instead of a longer period of time. ex: brett farve. dont like him but really, hes not very old in the real world but in football years, hes seriously way to old. if he stops playing now, he shouldnt have to work for the rest of his life and be ok. normal people work a lot longer but they dont put themselves through what he does.

      also, i do like the system for pay for sports, the better they are, the more they get paid. a doctor for example, only get more then the average by negotiating it. of course, over time, with promotions a doctor would get paid more but if doc a is 5 times a better doctor then doc b, there isnt really a way to show by stats that doc a is better and should get paid more. he just has to put on his salesman shoes and bulls**t his way to more money.

      sorry that was so long… :/

      1. Some great points! Do you think athletes being paid to compensate the abuse is equal across all sports or even all positions?

  6. I agree with everyone so far, and also think that people choose sides so strongly as a way of defining themselves. If people are insecure in some areas of their lives, they may turn to some extraneous object, team, etc. and defend it with abandon as if it were an extension of their own identity. Therefore, when someone attacks their personal preference it becomes an attack on their very identity.

    You could have added Star Wars/Star Trek to the list, but I’m not sure how much you could actually write abou that.

    1. yeah Jason, I think you are right. When someone attacks your preferences they are kind of making a statement about you and anyone else that has similar preferences.

      Also, no I couldn’t write about the Trek vs. Wars battle. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Though it wouldn’t surprise me.

  7. So I’ve been giving this some more thought and here’s what I’ve come up with.

    1. People are always seeking ways to be competitive. Sports is the obvious one here, but people who are bred to compete in everything from a young age will obviously carry that attitude over to things that should have no stake in your identity (cell phones, for instance). So it only makes sense that competition among teams, brands, and companies become a focal point for people – their very self-worth is at stake. Also,

    2. Advertising feeds (or perhaps creates) this perversion of self worth. Advertising doesn’t just sell products, they sell you a feeling, a status, an identity. You should buy Brand X because you are a man and manly men choose Brand X. But it doesn’t stop there! Successful advertising often resorts to simply stating that the other brands or teams out there aren’t as good. Apple’s best ad campaign ever has been cool Justin Long saying “I’m a mac” and nerdy (fat) John Hodgman saying, “I’m a PC.” Sometimes the best thing you can do as a company is simply say, “hey we’re not that other company and we think they aren’t any good.” By taking that stand you are drawing the line in the sand and if you are outspoken, people will side with you JUST because you made sides.

    3. People should worry less about bashing the other team or company and start demanding that their company perform at top level. Stop defending! Start demanding!

  8. i really enjoy this article. but about the coke pepsi thing, i work at 2 restaurants that both serve coke. one being mcdonalds. i dont hate coke products in general, i just dont like regular coke. i like sprite. but there isnt much else. luckily they serve dr pepper lol.
    my other job has root beer, orange pop, and lemonade so i have a few more options. also, i dont even like pepsi lol. i just like mt dew.

    all in all, i would rather just have a nice half gal of choc milk to last me the day 🙂

    also if you care, i choose verizon over at&t and sprint just cuz my area they have better service. ford is my top and i also like chevy but for some reason i despise dodge/chrysler products lol.

    you did a fantastic job writing this btw.

    1. Hey Kyle! A little late to the party with this one. But c’mon…ANY chicago team? I’ll give you the cubs, but the Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears…they’ve all have had at least one impressive season in the last 5 years. Well, I think anyway. I don’t really watch any of that stuff.

  9. The way it seems to me is that these 5 things serve the same purpose as religion. Simply put, people NEED something/anything to believe in. Humans are also creatures of habit and “since so and so before me did this I will to” is just plain old easy.

    1. Interesting thought here. I wouldn’t normally draw comparisons between brand loyalty and faith communities, however I think what you are hitting at is a sense of identity and a sense of connectivity (community?) to those who show the same loyalty. If that’s true it would explain much about why people get so defensive about their brands. You aren’t jus saying “Apple sucks,” you are saying, “you and all your friends suck!”

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