While the world mourns the loss of a brilliant mind in Steve Jobs, I got to wondering how much we really did lose. People have said that he was one of the greatest minds of our time and that may be, but what lasting effect did Mr Jobs have on our society? What effect did he have on me?
One of the first computers I ever used was a Mac. You know, one of those old one-piece things that worked only in black, white and grey. I could do puzzles and learn to type and that was about it. When the iPod came out, I was one of the first people to jump on that train. Even now, I rarely leave the house without my current device (a 160GB iPod Classic). At school, Macs sit on desks in neat rows and I have come to have a love/hate relationship with the machines. At home, a PowerMac G4 sits under my piano with an assortment of recording gear hooked up to it. In a way, Steve Jobs changed my life. I have become dependant on devices that originate with him and his ideas. But is this a good thing?
The world waited this week in anticipation of the new iPhone. The iPhone 5 is coming out! Alas, it’s only an iPhone 4S, but a new model nonetheless. We waited. For a new phone. We already have phones. Some of us more than one. What does it matter if a new model comes out every 6-12 months? Why do we need the latest and greatest? Because someone told us it’s always best to have it?
Thanks to Steve Jobs (and others – I’m not saying he’s responsible for it, all, but he was a driving force) I can now watch my friends and family feed their Angry Birds addictions while sitting at the dinner table. I can avoid conversations with teenagers because they can’t hear me, their iPods are turned up too loud. I can watch women preen in their phones using the dual camera option as a mirror. I can see children under the age of two adapt to technology that wasn’t even an idea when I was a kid and now they can’t live without it. I can see mothers and fathers conducting business in the car, at home, shopping and a mealtimes because the iPad made it possible for them to do so.
So my question is this: why are we so caught up in mourning a man whose lasting contribution to society is a series of devices that take us away from what is most important?