Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Because I Am A Bad Person...

I don't really care very much about the death of Steve Jobs. Don't mistake this for lack of compassion for the suffering he endured, or for his family's grief, or for the grief of those who knew and cared for him. Despite his reputation for being a serious asshole, their suffering is real, and I take no joy in it. But the massive outburst of praise and emotion is something to which I cannot relate. I think this is in part because I reject the "Great Man" theory of history. Sure, Jobs was an innovator. He may or may not deserve the title "genius." [P.S. - after looking at the definition, he almost certainly does.]

I decided to save the following comment I left on a friend's facebook status for posterity:
"I fail to understand the massive outburst over the death of Steve Jobs. I think the fact that Jobs' death has generated more fb posts than anything that actually matters is very sad. I, for one, am thinking more about the horrendous conditions in Apple's factory in China than about whether this guy croaked or not. But who cares, because now I can play Angry Birds on an airplane!"
And that sums up my take on this.  People who have vast privilege and vast relative wealth are grieving over a guy who, for the most part, helped make toys. Sure, the power of "his" inventions (as if he did all by himself) has changed society, but what society? And how did it change? 

I know some will say that it is absurd to write off Apple's products as mere toys, but really, for almost everyone I know, that's pretty much what they are. I get that he brought fun and wonder to people's lives. I just don't get why we elevate those who further consumerism at the cost of the lives and well being of others (all the while reputedly being a total fucker along the way) above all the other suffering and death in the world. I just wish people could get this invested over things that, in my opinion, have more long-term meaning.

Ah, and as I flipped back to facebook, I see this:  

"The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented." -- President Obama

Oferfuckssake. "[M[ost of the world" lives in abject poverty, and could not care less about Steve Jobs.

If you like Apple's products, that's great. I'm not saying one should feel nothing. I'm just bummed that THIS is the event that has stirred more activity on facebook than anything I can think of in recent times. We have some serious priority problems.

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