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I too have attempted to rationalize this behavior that exists in nearly every human being (some more than others).
My best guess is it is some residual behavior that had benefits in evolution. There is power in numbers, and perhaps the creatures that find a bond based on a similarity (no matter how arbitrary) are more likely to survive the hardships of evolution.
I suppose if an early human lacked this similarity with the rest they could be placed into the "them" group and possibly killed eliminating that strain of DNA.
As bright as many of the people in the world are, it is shocking how few seem to be able to realize they do this. In some ways it handicaps their full potential.
I think it is called "identifying with" that item. Thats where to link to that persons identity comes from. Its the investment of personal identity just like any of the other things in life you identify with.
I'm sure you have a certain identifying traits that if people who know you can associate with you if they were to encounter those traits somewhere else. Why do you have a preferred style of clothing that you wear. Because you can identify with those who would choose to wear such apparel.
Now if I happen to find that particular style of dress deplorable and silly and attack the group of people who wear such 'crap' you would undoubtedly take it personally. At least thats what I would expect as a normal response. That would be because it is an indirect attack on you personal preferences.
The comparison of the OS that a user chooses to use vs. a sports team they choose to side with is quite a bit different IMO.
One of them is a tool you use - the other is mostly just for entertainment.
I don't know about you - but I like to use tools that work the way I want them to.
It's like picking a brand name for a product you purchase - given equal cost, you're going to pick the one that has a history of working better, and being of higher quality.
If someone tells you that brand is crap and makes horrible products, and you know better, you're likely going to say something.
I don't see how that's "identifying" with a product for the sake of it.
It would seem that what you're basically trying to say is that all OSes are created equal, no one can possibly be better than another in any way. Anyone who claims otherwise must just be so obsessed with their favorite OS that they don't know any better.
I'll admit, there's a certain amount of fanboism that occurs, and the statements and falsities that these people make can be ridiculous - but there are definitely real reasons why each OS is unique and different, and probably better than others in their own way. Chances are, these same people really did choose their current OS of choice for a good reason - they just can't seem to express it in an intelligent, convincing way that others can comprehend