Belated thoughts on Steve Jobs

I want to make sure I don’t offend anyone, this is a tribute to Steve Jobs. My initial comments may not seem like it, but stick with me. And I won’t take as long to get there as I usually do. Promise.

Steve Jobs died last week, and this post will be considered to be a bit “late on the draw” by some.

However, I wasn’t quite sure what to say at first. After all, what could I possibly have to say about Steve Jobs? Me the woman who is struggling every day to disconnect from so much modernity (is that a word?) to recreate a connection to the natural world. The most recent technology I wanted to invest in around here involved chicken wire, some lumber and would give me a never-ending supply of fresh eggs in the summer. (I was vetoed)

So my first thought, ashamed as I am of this, was to ask: isn’t Steve Jobs responsible for the tuned-out throngs of hip, young people engrossed with their iPods and i-This and i-That connecting with invisible strangers but they can’t look a fellow subway passenger in the eye? All of it costing what I pay in a week to feed three grown adults? And what about our obsession with the latest technology, our complicity with the marketing of planned obsolescence that has turned so many into gadget-holics while others struggle economically for necessities of life across the widening gap of haves and have-nots. Isn’t that all part of the Jobs masterpiece?

No. Not at all.

After all, aren’t I the one sitting here, able to publish my thoughts and writings to the world, connecting with others of like mind without the interference of publishers or editors, or concern about market audience? And aren’t I the one who is able to explore alternative ways of living with reduced technology using the very technology Jobs helped put into everyone’s hands? I mean, let’s be honest here: I learned to fish online.

And of course, the Facebook revolutions going on everywhere, including here (it’s about time).  Without some of the technologies Steve Jobs perfected and promoted, I don’t know those would have been possible.

I surely don’t like some of what the technology did to us, but I don’t want to live without what it did for us. 

I am able to sit here today and connect with a few people who like what I have to say. I am able to research how to live the life I want, not just the life I was taught. Through Twitter, and Facebook, and other social media, people have been able to connect and form a fight for justice and freedom in ways they never have before. And Steve Jobs, even with his marketing, was responsible for that. He may not have invented Facebook itself, but he created and popularized all the necessary tools to make it happen. Sure, he may have wrapped it all up in a trendy little package and rereleased it every year to a cult following, but still, a crucial tool that gave us all the ability to connect, to communicate, to reach out was still in there.  iPhones led to Smart Phones, and the iPad led to tablets. Who knows, without the trendy packaging and cult following, would anyone have bought it in the first place? Maybe Steve Jobs was brilliant enough to know that to get us to bite – no matter how valuable what he had was – he still had to bait the hook.

For that I thank him.

Yes, I still get annoyed by the tuned out trendies on the train who don’t realize they just dug their stiletto into my flip-flopped little toe, or the semi-suited yuppies who walk over me on the street. But their disconnection from the world is their fault, not Jobs’s. 

Maybe we should think about honoring him a bit better than that.

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