Words Matter: Fanboy

by Randy Murray on June 21, 2012

Using dismissive language is both lazy and repugnant. One of the worst recent examples of this practice is the word “fanboy” (also seen as “fanboi”).

I’m well acquainted with dismissive language and have had it used against me nearly all my life. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since the series originally aired (and yes, I’m old enough to have seen it when it originally aired on our black and white Zenith console TV). The term “Trekkie” was used to poke fun at fans like me and dismiss us as unimportant and out of the mainstream. I tried to claim that I was, instead, a “Trekker”, but like many others I came to embrace “Trekkie” in defiance of those who would dismiss me.

And like the Trekkie that I am, I became an Apple adopter early, too. For years I was dismissed as outside the mainstream of computing and technology. That I was a blind follower, a cultist. An Apple fanboy.

Turns out I was right on both counts. Star Trek is still wildly popular and is a major cultural and design influence (you probably carry a communicator in your pocket). And Apple is the most profitable and successful company on the planet. Apple and Apple products have helped me to build a rich career and being an Apple investor has helped to secure my financial future.

Fanboy indeed.

So yes, you can dismiss me by claiming that I and others are blind followers, fanboys. While you label me, your use of the term makes it easy for me to recognize you as someone close-minded and uninformed, as someone who can’t hold up their end of a debate. Name calling marks you as unworthy of my attention.

Words matter, and can cut both ways. Choose them wisely.


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Words Matter: Fanboy by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

barbara trumpinski-roberts June 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Even though I’m not a boy, I think we should take fanboy for our own…like geek and nerd it should be a term of pride.

I saw Michael Uslan (exec-producer of the Batman movies and author of “The Boy Who Loved Batman” and was delighted to see him admit to fanboyness. There are many who are proud to be fanboys, from Kevin Smith to Wil Wheaton to Joss Whedon…they are all fanboys and proud of it.


Randy Murray June 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I’m all for embracing it, as I did with “trekkie,” but I’m admonishing the name callers and their attempt to be dismissive. My advice to all is to recognize and avoid dismissive terms and words, not to be lazy, to be clear about their intentions.

No name calling!


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