A while back, I talked a bit about how the attempt to lower technical barriers to the Internet invariably results in those using the service to scorn and ridicule when they attempt to deal with the problem. In this case, it was a thought experiment on what it would be like to deal with iPad users if you were a non-Apple customer service rep.
I used customer service, because I didn’t think the stigma I saw in the early 90s against AOL users had a modern corollary. Then, like a beacon of pure brilliance comes the comment thread to readwriteweb.com’s Facebook Wants to be Your One True Login.
As the story goes, a bunch of readers became confused when they typed, “Facebook Login” into Google and arrived at this article. As you can see played out in the article, enough people seemed to be confused to make it absolutely hilarious. The readwriteweb.com folks insist that these are real users having real indignation at the “redesign” of their favorite site.
Here is the exact fervor I remember on both sides. The angry wild-swinging-punches entitlement from the folks trying to log into Facebook on a blog, and the happy ridicule from the folks in the know.
However, it wasn’t long before I realized something else. I realized that this is actually an awesome microcosm in which to examine a phenomenon I’ve noticed for some time: dealing with people who have “stupid” belief systems.
Now, I’m not going to signal anyone out, even though I’m itching to. Again, this is because I like to avoid debate as much as possible. However, think of your favorite crusader for anything that has been proven “wrong” time and time again by scientific trials and experimentation. Think of people who are advocating political policies/conspiracies that are baseless in their foundation.
Now, examine the situation going on with the ReadWriteWeb.com article.
You’ll see something wonderful, something profound. The “clueless” commentators, the ones ReadWriteWeb.com say are coming from web searches for “Facebook Login,” are MAD, they are ANGRY, they CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE.
The thing they’re rallying against is a Facebook redesign that hasn’t happened. They’re rallying against a mistake in perception they have. They’re arguing against an illusion.
The emotions are real. The problem isn’t.
What a gift. What an absolute gift of insight into our own situations. What an absolute gift of insight in the capacity for human stupidity. Perhaps, if we’re smart, even our own.
Because unlike any philosophical or pseudoscientific debate, the people who think that ReadWriteWeb.com is a redesigned Facebook are undeniably, splendidly, titanically WRONG.
What I have yet to see in this is one of the people who believes they’re logging into Facebook arguing with the people trying to get them to understand. When THAT happens, if that happens, we’ll gain even more insight.
Finally, we’ll eventually get to see what happens when the people who thought they were logging into Facebook realize their error, and attempt to deal with getting over their own egos. I predict at least a few people will accuse ReadWriteWeb.com of intentional fraud.
The sad thing is, we won’t actually learn as much as we can from this. Because of the way our brains work, we will put the people whose ideals differ from ours in the “stupid” camp, and cast ourselves as those “in the know.”
Which is unfortunate, because unless you’re ACTUALLY in the know, (like me), you’re going to look pretty stupid. See what I did there?
On this note, I once had an instructor who informed us that psychological theory normally mirrored great technological achievements of the day. The theory of humors came about around the same time as the aqueducts, or the idea of signals travelling on nerves “like wires” came about around the same time as the telegraph.
“Now,” she concluded, “We know the brain works pretty much like a computer.”
“Because that’s the great technological achievement of our day?” I asked.
“No,” she replied. “It works like a computer.”
Make of that what you will.