*This blog is usually dedicated to football. Since I don’t own another blog, it was the only place I could post my thoughts on the passing of Steve Jobs.
As the news of Steve Jobs’ passing made its way into my otherwise uneventful Wednesday evening, I was taken completely aback. Many will say his death was not a shock since it so recently followed his stepping down as CEO of Apple at the end of August, but death has a strange way of always being a surprise, no matter what events precede it.
I was riding the train home when I read the news on my iPhone, while simultaneously listening to my iPod, with my iPad in close proximity tucked away in my purse. As I walked through my front door, reeling with heavy thoughts from the loss of such an important person in today’s culture and now history, I sat down in front of my iMac and heard its warm hum as I clicked it awake. Too tired to sit at my desk, I opted instead to sit on a soft chair with my Macbook Pro propped on my lap. This is where I now ruminate and record my reflections on Steve Jobs, and how apt that it should be with one of his many incredible inventions.
It’s difficult to explain the affection one develops for someone they didn’t actually know. Despite how silly this may sound, it happens constantly in our lives with the prominence of celebrities. How did people feel when Elvis, John F. Kennedy, or John Lennon died? Millions have wept at the loss of a genius, a forward-thinker, an innovator, or a great artist that they never knew in person. The reality is that these people touch so many lives without every needing to be in the same room. That’s because ideas, products, music, and art transcend daily interaction and enter people’s hearts on a different level than anything else. In turn, we feel closer to the creator of all those things, almost as if we really did know them. Steve Jobs is no exception.
Just one day after I took to Twitter and Facebook to defend Apple’s name and reputation, Jobs was taken from us. The point I was trying to make to people (who were already moaning about the introduction of the iPhone 4S) is that Apple did itself a slight disservice by revolutionizing so many parts of our lives. By giving us incredible, nay, magical innovations, Jobs simultaneously got people so used to this kind of technology that they now took it for granted. Think of it this way: the iPhone was introduced to the world in 2007, a staggering FOUR years ago. Before then, touch screen devices with that level of computing were only seen in films that were set in the future. Now, they’re as commonplace as the home computer.
Jobs’ list of qualities range everywhere from genius and charismatic, all the way down to rude and arrogant. No one would ever deny Jobs had his flaws, but what he excelled in and what he will be remembered for, are not those flaws. In fact, I kind of believe in the idea that no one is perfect, but I choose to focus on the positive things they gave – and Jobs gave a lot.
It’s easy to run down the list of things Jobs was involved in and created. The iPod and iTunes have almost single-handedly revolutionized the way we listen to and share music. The iPhone revolutionized the way people communicate, play, watch, listen, and interact. The iPad continues Apple’s proud tradition of innovation and computing in the 21st century. And the countless versions of the OSX operating system, software, laptop, and desktop computers that have been made and have entered more and more people’s homes over the last 13 years shows the unbelievable upward trajectory of what Jobs set out to do. Although I’m sure even he didn’t expect to build the world’s most valuable technology company.
With all that said, probably the most important characteristic of Steve Jobs was his ability to tell stories. And not just tell stories to people about how he believed technology could change their lives in so many fantastical ways, but in developing the technology to allow people to tell their own stories to others.
My story goes something like this: I bought my first Powerbook in 2002 after I had discovered Final Cut Pro 3 and absolutely fell in love with editing. This innovation of hardware and software has since allowed me (and countless others) the ability to tell our stories through the magic of (affordable) non-linear editing. In almost 10 years since buying my first Apple product, which I will admit, I struggled to get used to after so many years on a PC, I have since bought or owned a Powermac G5, MacBook Pro, iMac, 5 ipods, 2 iPhones, an iPad, and an Apple TV. I have never looked back as more and more over the years these inventions have bettered my life. Not because they were a “thing” I needed to own, or because I wanted to feel cool for owning them, but because they gave me the medium in which to tell my stories and create my art, while simultaneously helping me collect all the things I loved in one easy place.
For those that dismiss Jobs for his flaws, I urge you to take a deeper look at what the world would be like without ever having him in it. It’s not just about the “stuff” he made, the profits he sent soaring through the roof, and the way he revolutionized the computer, music, and mobile-phone industries. He was a man that wasn’t afraid to dream and had the courage to turn those dreams into reality. He saw the power in combining artistry and technology, and we now know, what he really saw was the future.
In his commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, he famously said in regards to the twists and turns his life took, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards.” He continued, “Because believing that the dots will connect later down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
Steve Jobs followed his heart, and encouraged everyone around him to do the same. He loved Apple with every fiber of his being, and that love and passion was infectious. He spent the best years of his life making it into what it is today. Despite illness and death staring him in the face, he continued his journey to create and in turn help others create for themselves. Without him, the world would be a lesser place filled with Discmans and Windows. A place where you can’t listen to the song you have stuck in your head at the touch of a button. A place where you can’t slide your finger across a screen to make a phone call. A place where movies, photos, and music aren’t fostered daily by anyone who has the inspiration to create. A place devoid of life because people don’t have the necessary tools to tell their story. This isn’t a place I’d like to live in, but the world Jobs created is where I am lucky enough to call my home.
Love him or hate him, Steve Jobs changed the world as we know it in more ways than one. His legacy will continue to live on and grow just as he always wanted it to. To conclude, no one could say it better than the man himself:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”- Steve Jobs
You most definitely changed the world, Steve. Thank you and rest in peace.