ince Steve Jobs' death Wednesday night, emotional tributes have been pouring in, proclaiming how the Apple co-founder changed the world and revolutionized computing, capitalism, and the way we consume media. But while fanboys weep and the media pontificates, some are wondering if we're going overboard and mourning a CEO as if he were a saint. Are all the tributes and tears too much?
He wasn't Jesus: "Calm down people," says Hamilton Nolan at Gawker. "A tech genius has passed on," and it's a "devastating loss to Steve Jobs' close friends and family members, as well as to Apple executives and shareholders." The rest of us need to get a grip and save the grandiose displays of public grief for those great figures who have unselfishly worked to cure disease, end wars, or fight poverty. Yes, Apple products are cool, but "they are not heroes, and neither is their creator, no matter how skilled he may have been."
"Steve Jobs was not God"
And he didn't necessarily improve our lives: "Those who think that Steve Jobs was in the same league" as Einstein or Nelson Mandela "should switch off their computers and get out more," says A.N. Wilson in the Daily Mail. In an age where many of us are tethered to our gizmos, unable to function if we can't check our email, has all this gadgetry changed our lives for the better? I'll admit that "Jobs was a brilliant and highly innovative technician, with great business flair and marketing ability... a clever backroom boy who got lucky," but he wasn't a true visionary. He didn't fundamentally change the world.
"Brilliant, yes, but he wasn't an Einstein"
He wasn't a saint, but he was a visionary: "Steve Jobs was a genius, and one of the most important businessmen and inventors of our time," says D.B. Grady at The Atlantic. "But he was not a kindly, soft-spoken sage who might otherwise live atop a mountain in India, dispatching wisdom to pilgrims." There's no need to canonize Jobs. He "didn't change the world by playing nice." He changed the world by being a demanding, "iron-fisted visionary," but that's often what it takes to bring great things to market. Jobs "doesn't deserve a hagiography, and I doubt he would have wanted one."
"In praise of bad Steve"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- The case for killing law school
- Aereo at the Supreme Court: No matter what, broadcasters lose
- Mad Men recap: 'A Day's Work'
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Putin's risky bet in eastern Ukraine
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- The Democrats have a mega-donor problem
- 10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2014
Subscribe to the Week