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This is the Modem World: So what's with the tech backlash thing?


Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

Just over a month ago, Apple launched its svelte new MacBook Pro with Retina display. Powerful and beautiful, we all fell in love with the new device, jammed up Apple's ordering process, and prepared to queue up for a hot new Mac all over again.

Then we woke a day later to a slew of realizations: the unit is hard to upgrade, software isn't optimized for the new display, and repairs will be expensive, if not impossible. Then we heard that some Retina screens were having color issues. So we rioted. We hated it for being limited, for not being the sexy woman she promised she was the night before.

It happens every time: Some great new thing is announced, we all gush with excitement and throw our wallets at our monitors. Then we wake up the next morning hung over and hating the very product we lusted after only 24 hours earlier.

"I took THAT home last night?"

Remember how excited we were over Facebook finally going public? Now we ridicule the social network and some pundits are even glad its stock is eroding. We find joy in ridiculing the giant social network for being a wasteland of baby pictures and farming games.

"That'll teach Zuckerberg," we say.

Teach him what?

Or how about how we are all slowly dismembering Microsoft after imbibing their products like holy tech mana for years? It's now fashionable to mock their products. Even Ashton Kutcher got laughs when he bashed the Zune in his very first appearance on "Two and a Half Men" (probably his one funny line so far, unfortunately).

And then there was the Nintendo Wii. Oh, the Wii. They told us we'd never play games the same way again. We thought they were crazy, but we were ready to give it a try, because we loved Nintendo. Then we all went nuts for Wii Sports and no one could find the console on store shelves for over a year. Almost as quickly as we drank the Wii Kool Aid, though, we shared videos of TVs being shattered by flying Wiimotes, doctors diagnosed us all with Wii-itis and we all begged Nintendo to drop the whole thing and just give us Zelda in HD with a Nintendo 64 controller.

And when that comes, will we turn on it?

Perhaps this is just the way we operate: We lump praise, go nuts and then correct ourselves when we realize we were being silly all along. This is human nature. We love, take things for granted, lose and regret. Then, we get all nostalgic.

But when we act this way about consumer electronics, it sends product developers and marketers into tizzies. They're not sure what we like at the end of the day, and they end up putting things out that miss the mark, which, of course, we love, because we find more pleasure in mocking a product than showering it with praise.

We're silly.

Joshua Fruhlinger is the former Editorial Director for Engadget and current contributor to both Engadget and the Wall Street Journal. You can find him on Twitter at @fruhlinger.

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