Perspective on Steve Jobs Passing Essay
I think it’s fair to say that Steve Jobs’ passing yesterday took the nation by surprise – I certainly was not expecting the news. Jobs was a visionary in the tech industry, a super creative mind, and an excellent CEO; I think that you’d be hard pressed to find many who would argue those points with much credibility. But that said, some of the reaction I’ve heard and read in response to his passing is just so far off kilter, I think that it needs to be addressed. This whole notion of “Steve Jobs, America’s Hero” just doesn’t fly with me. Yesterday I heard someone liken Jobs’ death to the passing of the President. Ummm, what?
Let me start by saying that I work for a technology company. More specifically, I work in the Innovation District in Boston – an area so synonymous with tech start-ups that it’s generally regarded as the East Coast’s version of Silicon Valley. Apple’s focus on the simplification of the user experience is something that other companies including my own seek to emulate in their products. But does that make Jobs a hero? I say no – it makes his a very intelligent mind and a great businessman. Let’s also remember that Jobs did not create the portable personal music player or the computer – he simply made them better. If you listen to much of the fallout since Jobs’ passing yesterday, you would be led to believe that he walked into his garage one day with a hammer, some nails, and a 2×4 and walked out with an iPad. Let’s give the rest of the folks over there at Apple a little credit too, eh?
So what’s my point? Why am I sitting here in the wake of Jobs’ passing, doing what I’m sure many of you will read as Jobs bashing? Because all of this brings about a larger debate. It’s no secret that America’s heroes, idols, etc. far too often take on the form of Snooki, Kelly Osbourne, or Drew Brees – I think most of those declaring Jobs as a hero would agree with me on that. But can a businessman (all of whom are out to make a profit) be a hero simply because they are a great CEO? I think there is some gray area there with regards to CEO’s who lead companies like TOMS shoes, but in general (and in this case) I’d argue no.
Sure, Jobs touched the lives of millions of Americans – by bringing music to their ears on their way to work (while taking a couple hundred out of their bank accounts). To me, despite all of the creativity, genius, whatever you want to call it, this is something of a slap in the face to the real heroes out there – most of whom will die with little acknowledgement whatsoever. I can’t help but think of the research scientists developing chemotherapy treatments that actually save lives. There’s a million other professions and fields that are similar in nature, and there’s no reason for me to list them all. But these fields have equally (if not more) brilliant, creative minds that are making a much more significant impact.
When was the was the last time your iPod saved your life?
Steve Jobs’ passing represents a sad day and the loss of the leader of one of America’s great companies. But for those of you who are going off the deep end with regards to Jobs’ significance, let’s have some perspective and honor the man for what he was.