September 14, 2011, 6:30 AM — For pure entertainment, for the overwhelming bliss of wonder, understanding and relieved optimism, nothing geekish can beat being in the middle of a big crowd at a huge new product introduction with all the stops pulled out, all the show-dogs and –ponies on display, bells and whistles sounding and crowd raving to overamp'd music from the days of our youth (or someone's).
Crowds make hall fill with phosphorescent smoke and bright blue light as giants of innovation walk out on the stage – leaders of armies of technologists who will wave the rest of us toward the right path into the future, light our way with their godlike vision and promise wonders no politician would have the guts to consider.
In the dark, in the smoke in the crowd and the noise, an ancient ape brain – buried but much closer to the surface than the rational skeptical parts of our minds believe – shrieks with a toddler's joy, bathing us in adrenaline, oxytocin and phenylethylamine, washing our pleasure centers in dopamine and the sense that whatever desperate need we felt before walking in, whatever hole that exists in our lives, our disappointments, failures and disillusionment was all an illusion waiting to be penetrated, deflated and dismissed by whatever miracle we're about, to see performed before our very eyes.
That feeling is why people throw themselves into frenzies of adoration, elation and despair in the stands at a Big Game, a self-righteous protest, political rally, cheerleading sales meeting or religious revival.
Playing on our need for joy and hope
We lose our minds for just a moment; we put aside the rational being that dissects the stagecraft, wonders at the toxicity of the smoke, sees the godlike visionaries as the same empty suits filled with expensive aphorisms as the time we spoke to them last and will be again as soon as the music fades and they begin to speak.