Thursday, October 6, 2011

What the Death of Steve Jobs Says About our World

Amazing photo from:

Steve Job's death is tragic in that it happened too early in his life. 56 years old is just too young to go. 

At the same time I resent the making of an idol. Over pillow talk with Mr. Rant he touched on a gut feeling that had starting bothering me the moment Twitter practically shut down and Facebook started posting thousands of statuses in memory of the former Apple CEO. 

Mr. Rant made a very good point, who was this man that stopped the internet tonight? Did he save starving children? Did he aide those at risk of genocide? Did he reach out to the homeless or build homes after Karina? Not so much no.

He built technology that we play with. Actually, he built technology with a team. No people, Steve wasn't in a glass room pulling holy ipads out of his ass. Genius yes, deity no. 

Regardless, I'm getting off my point. He was the face of a company. A face of a company died and people around the world are mourning him. Hell, Google posted a memorial and Obama made a statement. That's pretty big stuff. And why did that happen? Well, he made billions for apple, stock holders around the world have full pockets, and adults and kids alike have angry birds to play with. 

Am I saying he wasn't a good man? Not at all! I'm sure he is the kind of man that is well worth the attention that his death is getting. What I am saying is that what does the attention his death is getting say about our world? Countries around the world are facing serious issues, including the one I live in, and Steve Jobs trends on Twitter 15 seconds after his death. Sally Struthers and her starving children couldn't pay for that kind of thing even if they sent one of their starving children to die at the Apple offices. 

I'm not writing as a means to take away from his death. Obviously the world lost an amazing creative mind and one of the faces of Apple. What I am asking is for you to take a step back. Other than genius, fun and changing world technology as we know it, what did he really do? Seriously. I mean, how important is an ipad in the long run. Can you eat it? Does it end world poverty? Are we really using it to educate the masses or distribute healthcare to those in need? 

I know my questions are boring. They are the things you don't like to think about while you are putting your kids to sleep in their warm beds with their full tummies. You don't want to stop and think that someone somewhere is struggling to work 2 jobs and learn how to read at 14 yrs old. You don't want to think of the judges in third world countries trying to fight corrupt police officers who end up getting shot down in front of their home. You really don't want to think of the people of Haiti and how a pigeon is considered a good meal. 

And no one is truly pushing for the people fighting for these people to trend on Twitter. No one is talking about how doctors without borders is busting their ass in Somalia or about the people working with AIDS in Africa on their Facebook Status. 

It makes me think that the key to helping this world is to convince a starving Somalian child to develop a new kind of cell phone. Wow, that kind of publicity focused on where he/she is from... imagine what it could do. 

As another friend pointed out, Steve Jobs is a name and face we know. He is in our homes. That only makes grief and condolences that much easier and more personal. It is a very good point but also one that saddens me. Why is it that we know heads of corporations over humanitarians? Why do we know reality stars over UN workers? 

For some reason we give fame to those who really aren't the heroes in this world or maybe I just have a different kind of hero in mind. Regardless, in my ideal world the death of a brilliant man who made millions would not rise above the deaths of millions that attempted to make other lives even just a little bit more brilliant. 

Regardless of the nature of this post I want it to be understood that I send my condolences to Steve Jobs' family, friends, and co-workers. He was someone's Father, Husband, and friend. 


  1. Great post Rachel.
    I think many of your questions are being raised by the folks on the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.
    It is actually spreading around the US now, it's in over 50 American cities right now and getting stronger by the minute.
    Again, great post!


  2. I completely agree with this post, every single thing that you said! We need to get our priorities straightened out right now!

    In other news, I nominated you (Both Rachel and Ray and Gil) in my Versatile Blogger award. Ground breaking, getting an award from an amateur blogger, I know.

  3. I disagree with you. It wasn't his job save children or build homes for people affected by Katrina, so you can't accuse him of not doing such things. He was also very closed about his charity work, so who knows, maybe he did all those things after all.

    He did an amazing job in accessibility for people with disabilities. Because of him, blind people can now use iPads and iPhones almost like everyone else (Stevie Wonder agrees:

    Now, 'pulling holy ipads out of his ass'? Really? He is credited on over 300 patents. Obviously he wasn't physically creating stuff, but he is in on a lot of the vision of what needs to be made. He creates something in his mind and people build it. He told the engineers about his idea for the G3 iMac and they said it was impossible. He told them to make it happen. It happened. He asked how small they could make a computer and the guy held out his hands and Steve moved them closer together and told them to make it happen. The Mac Mini happened. Jobs wanted a touch screen keyboard, then when they had the mock ups of an iPad-like device with some basic function he thought it would be great for a phone. The iPhone. No, he didn't physically build the stuff, but without him these things would have never been made. Or at least not made nearly as well as Apple did.

    Why everything has to do with poverty? He (like Gates) is the exception in the corporate world, that's why losing him is a great loss. He made profit, of course. But that's because he created amazing products. Instead of wining market share by having 200 crappy models of your product on sale (like Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, etc.) Steve would only want one model, and the best one that can be made. If it weren't that good, they wouldn't sell it until it was (reason he delayed so many Apple products and services).

    Microsoft is loosing without Gates. Investors and employees are not happy with how Balmer is leading the company. I guess the same will happen to Apple. Tim Cook maybe good, but he is no Jobs. Now, instead of perfect products, that people really want and know how to use, that competition will put all efforts to copycat, we may have just products made to sell for a profit, not lasting or creating new markets.

    It's a sad day.

  4. Your point is well made...and many will miss it.

    He was good at what he did, he gave us a good product, he had vision and he had amazing support from talented people that carried his visons to fruition...he died too young. He wasn't always very nice, he had his own demons and struggles we don't know about and he garnered lots of attention because of his wealth and success...attention he didn't always want. He changed things...the attention given to his death is disproportionate in some way...and is an opportunity to think...

    Our, success, fame, status. The world places importance on fame. Grants deity status to the powerful, bends to the wealthy and listens to reality stars like they are capable of dribbling words of wisdom from their silicone puffed lips. We hold our breath and dig deep into our pockets when an actor pronounces a cause worthy of our attention...and yet we ignore those who battle on the ground, sweat and risk their lives to save others....passing over their dedication, sweat and tears to follow the actor to the crisis he has pronounced as worthy.

    We mourn the loss of a football player and pass over the loss of the man hit by a car on the way to his shift at the homeless shelter. The world rung their hands over the loss of Princess Diana and hardly noticed that Mother Teresa left us the same week she did...hardly a word, hardly a murmur, hardly a mention.

    What this really says about all of us is that we all eventually die. The one thing we all have in matter how rich, poor, famous or unknown.

  5. I see where you are coming from however well before his death I was watching something about his impact in China and how poor migrant workers by the thousands were collected to work in factories making i products (yes possibly sweat shops as CNN didn't seem to make that clear) and for the first time because it was "such a good job," for them they were able to send their kids to school for the first time.

    One of the things I like most about apple products is I can count on them. According to friends that work in other computer companies (dell, acer) they all own apple products because at the end of the day they claim it truly is the best made system out there. Iphones in Libya were taking pictures of destruction and showing the world the reason why they fight....

    So no maybe he's no deity and I think its a bit extreme when I see people bowing to him in vigils around the world but he deserves his place in history.

  6. Jana and Rinaldmi, I see your point and I agree that he made beautiful products with his team. At the same time, they are just that, products. I hear people swearing 3000 count Egyptian sheets are the only way to go but no one is mourning the death of their creator.

    i'm getting off the point here, I'm not saying that he shouldn't have his place in history. He obviously impacted the technological field! I have been an ipod/itouch user for years.

    The thing is that the attention was disproportionate. In the end he was a successful CEO with a company that made great products. The world was desperately mourning a business man (who btw upon his return to Apple in '97 cut all corporate philanthropy programs). If Apple pays their people in China well that is awesome but they should be anyway. Not being a super slave laborer creator is not a reason to make the man a legend.

  7. Rachel -

    I fully understand what you are saying, but... I don't think mourning Steve Jobs passing is at the cost of understanding the bigger issues that plague our society. Why can't we do both?

    Also, it seems to me that you are underestimating his impact on society. One thing you wrote comes to mind:

    "Are we really using it to educate the masses?"

    The answer to that question is yes. In fact, the Ipad is a revolutionary educational device. True, it may not be accessible to the "masses" just yet. But I promise you that the technology used in the Ipad is being harnessed for greater good.

  8. Someone who's largely responsible for the food on the table of around 30 000 people, and thus their families, is someone to respect. Point.

    Except for that, without people doing great things, what do our children have to look out for? Do they have to admire 99% of the people working from 9-5 doing nothing with their lives and just following others?

    Thanks to some great minds and creators I became the person who I am now. I took chances and when loosing, kept fighting because others showed it was possible. The average John Doe has nothing to show, except how to make life worthless and unexciting.

    Yes it's nice a doctor is helping someone in Africa. However I would rather see a great mind creating jobs over there, giving people a future. A doctor who's helping over there is just extending the suffer, it still doesn't bring any future.

    Great entrepreneurs are the key to change the world! So lets put them as an example to our children and hope many more will follow. So yes, lets focus on the greatness of and opportunities laying for you in life. Hopefully our children will see them as a example.

  9. I would love it if people did both. Turns out they aren't though, are they? That's what makes me think...

    As for the ipad being used in schools, I remember how long it took to get apple computers in there. Not happening anytime soon.

  10. Giovanni- I did say

    "It makes me think that the key to helping this world is to convince a starving Somalian child to develop a new kind of cell phone." Sadly they don't have the money to invest over there, nor to eat.

    And yeah being a doctor is great but the dude that made a phone so that you can send instagrams to facebook is not my ideal role model. Sure it's good to strive for success but I disagree that selling your soul to the corporate system is the only way to go. That's whats sad in our world, people are starting to think it is.

    And Great entrepreneurs are not the key to changing the world. Sadly I'm sure there is a great entrepreneur behind Monsanto. Thoughts on that one? They also make millions...

  11. Actually it is happening right now... The reason it took so long to get Apple computers in schools is because schools had already adopted IBM systems.

  12. Not really. The school at the time didn't have a computer system.

  13. Agreed. His products changed the way people make products, it changed the face of education, of communication (for everyone, especially those with disabilities), of technoglogy (what is possible?), of jobs (all over the world), etc.

    I know he just made products but those products changed the world.

  14. Rachel - sadly I think your view is distorted on this. Steve Jobs did change the world and he changed it for the better. He is much more than the "dude that made a phone so that you can send instagrams (sic) to facebook".

  15. He changed a portion of the world and made it different. As first world people we can relate to that change greatly. Sadly we are not the majority and I'm sure there are many more who don't even know who he is.

    Obviously I was being dramatic with that quote...

  16. Steve Jobs, as well as many others didn't have money thrown into their hands when starting a company. They worked for it and CREATED those opportunities.

    There is a huge difference between "selling your soul to the corporate system" = listening to others and being the averahe John Doe or creating a company yourself. The last means giving people a place to earn money and thus bringing money to the country. Which in an ideal world will be used for the good.

    The reason 99% procent of the working people in the Western world aren't starving like 'that' Somalian child, is thanks to people creating jobs by being great, visionary and working hard.

    It depends what you wish for your children. Do you wish them to become someone, who can make a difference, who live 100% and are an example for others, or do you wish them to be average and meaningless? Because again, that doctor helping the poor is GREAT - but doesn't bring anything to the country. You need enterpreneus for that. When money flows in, others can start to help to build up something. But withouth jobs being created, there's no future for a country.

    Monstanto is providing work to many families. People are buying their products. If you have a problem with the way those products are created, do something about it. First of stop buying, go into politics, make a change. Create a good alternative. Do something, become someone.

    Do you seriously think someone who's not rizing above the others can make a difference? Many people are are cattle in this world. Working all their lifes, complaining, giving up on dreams they had before, waiting to go on pension, and die.

    Not a very promissing way of life to a child full of dreams.

  17. You think Steve Jobs would have a company if it weren't for all the "cattle" working for him and buying his products?

    As for making dreams happen, seriously you think that a child born into third world poverty can just bust that kind of shit out? We get a head start in the Western world.

  18. I'll stop the comments or we'll get into an overly full comment page here :) . But just to answer your last comments:

    Nope, every farmer needs his cattle. But that doesn't change anything to the fact it remains cattle. A harsh choice of words, I know. Fact remains fact though.

    That head start is because some people created those opportunities in the past and keep creating them. There are enough successful people in Africa, Asia,... but they take their 'shit' in their own hands and create something.

    If you have a problem with the way it's going somewhere else. Go there and change it. But that means creating something and being someone again...

    With or without a head start, it's the people who create the jobs who can change something. Not the cattle.

    Steve Jobs created great products, great visions and was an inspiration to many. Many starting entrepreneurs kept going because of him.

    To end:

  19. I'll stop the comments or we'll get into an overly full comment page here :) . But just to answer your last comments:

    Nope, every farmer needs his cattle. But that doesn't change anything to the fact it remains cattle. A harsh choice of words, I know. Fact remains fact though.

    That head start is because some people created those opportunities in the past and keep creating them. There are enough successful people in Africa, Asia,... but they take their 'shit' in their own hands and create something.

    If you have a problem with the way it's going somewhere else. Go there and change it. But that means creating something and being someone again...

    With or without a head start, it's the people who create the jobs who can change something. Not the cattle.

    Steve Jobs created great products, great visions and was an inspiration to many. Many starting entrepreneurs kept going because of him.

    To end:

  20. I'll stop the comments or we'll get into an overly full comment page here :) . But just to answer your last comments:

    Nope, every farmer needs his cattle. But that doesn't change anything to the fact it remains cattle. A harsh choice of words, I know. Fact remains fact though.

    That head start is because some people created those opportunities in the past and keep creating them. There are enough successful people in Africa, Asia,... but they take their 'shit' in their own hands and create something.

    If you have a problem with the way it's going somewhere else. Go there and change it. But that means creating something and being someone again...

    With or without a head start, it's the people who create the jobs who can change something. Not the cattle.

    Steve Jobs created great products, great visions and was an inspiration to many. Many starting entrepreneurs kept going because of him.

    To end:

  21. But Gio the circles we are going in were supposed to be my cardio for the day ;)

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. I understand your point.

    People need heroes to identify with. Always have, always will. I am not an Apple-person. I don't even own an iPhone. But one can't just close their eyes and say "oh, it's not that big a deal". It is. People can relate to him and feel so close to him because he is in their home and in their pockets all day long, making their lifes easier, better and a lot more fun.

    Doctors working to save kids in Somalia aren't doing anything for your life, mine or all of these people's lives, putting it quite bluntly. People just can't relate to it, you know what I mean? They *understand* it is important, but they can't feel it, because it is completely separate from their reality. And can you blame them? How could we survive in this world if we were constantly completely aware and in touch with all of the ugly and sad things happening in it? For instance, while we are here, comfortably sitting behing a computer (a MAC, maybe?), debating on Rachel's blog?

    No, we keep the ugly at bay and focus on the beauty we want to conquer, on the everyday problems we need to solve, and get on with life. Some will donate to charity or help when they can, but most won't even do that.

    I could say more, but this is getting huge already. My point is, basically: it's human nature and I don't see it changing in the near future.

  24. Steve jobs was a fighter. I think it's not just about apple and what he created and the whole history how. I think it's his story of being betrayed and forced out, that is what touches people.

    Creating things like the mouse and later having it stolen from him. On Cultura last night they were unsure about giving him credit to this design, it shows the confusion about what all happened. He never gave up and he always gave ideas to the world that was life changing for us. Some things for the good and for the bad.

    Look at Marx, Karl Marx didn't just change the world for only the good. We all can't be the same role, I mean hell if every single person was a doctor, who is going to be the cooks, the teachers, and engineers of the world? We needs leaders, just like leaders need followers. We have many different types of people who are remembered in the world today. I don't think we need to have this checklist of history in order to get in.

    He was an inventor and a fighter. Even in his death he fought a deadly form of cancer while creating beautiful things. AND I can think of a long list of people who should die young and make this world a better place by doing so. That's also something else bothering me. I loved his products. But I loved his story more and it's something kids can look up to. I think that alone has a lot of value.

    And I worked in social services and in volunteers organizations for over ten years. I am burned out simply because the people are not what they seem. I could not believe what I saw in new orleans as a case worker, it literally made me physical sick. And I would urge that with most NGO's and UN itself is loaded with people who are fake.

    I don't like capitalism, I don't like slave labor and I don't like how our systems are setup. But the reality is, it's easier to say bad things about our system then it is to change it. I am not saying live with it, people face many hardships when you live outside the system or try to change that. Steve Jobs was a capitalist. I don't know him personally, so who knows. I think people are complex and no one is all good and all bad. I really don't know what else to say, I mourned when I heard he was dead.

    I don't think mourning steve jobs should be a thing. After all, is football to blame for the world problems? Thank god Brazil will have the fancy ass football fields but no schools, teachers, hospitals, nurses and doctors. We can point fingers at tons of forms of entertainment. But in the reality it's us. it's our fault.

  25. Hi Rachel,

    Great post! I completely agree with the fact that as a society, we seem to idolize the people who haven't done anything to truly make the world a better place by helping those in need. It's sad, and it's sadly the reality that we live in.

    However, I think there's something to be said about the technology that Jobs developed and the way that it changes people's lives for the better. My friends younger brother was diagnosed with autism as a child and has always had trouble communicating with others. With the help of an iPad and the technology and apps that have been developed for it, he can now communicate with others better than he has ever been able to. I know that changed the family's life for the better. I also think that the way that Jobs thought outside the box and envisioned the impossible (and then created it) is inspirational for anyone. Who knows, maybe a future world philanthropist will be inspired by this kind of thinking? :)

    That aside, I read your blog every day and love how you can make people think hard about issues and laugh at the same time. Thank you!

  26. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (with IBM) changed the world. Prior to their efforts, computers were limited to government agencies, department of defense and some universities who were working on government projects. By creating "personal computers," Jobs, Gates and IBM made this invaluable tool available to the masses.

    Imagine a world without the personal computer:

    Think of all of the advances in medicine due to the personal computer - research, MRI's, etc.;

    Without the PC, there would be no World Wide Web, no blogs, no easy access to information, no email, etc.;

    Manufacturing and production throughout the world was augmented by PC's resulting in more products at lower cost;

    Imagine runnning a business or corporation without computers;

    Computers have improved the whole field of education - both formal and informal.

    The world as a whole would be a much poorer place without the PC. This is why the passing of Steve Jobs is a major event comparable to the passing of Bell, Edison or Tesla.

  27. Cattle? Rachel, please. So, I own an Iphone and now I'm cattle? Really, I understand what you are saying, but you are saying it all wrong. Also, I wish you would stop downplaying what Steve Jobs did for society. What right do you have? What have you accomplished today?

  28. Simmer down. I used cattle because he did. That's it. I have a freaking itouch, my husband has an iphone, etc.

    I'm not downplaying that he is a key to today's technology. I'm just talking "about our media focus and how disproportionate it is. He was amazingly good at what he did, he was brash, he was maniacal. He developed a good product that I'm typing away on now...but there are others out there inventing great things, taking their companies to great heights, and helping people live better lives....and more that are struggling to save our environment, feed the hungry, rescue children from poverty and cure disease. I wonder how Mr Jobs would feel about the attention his death is garnering... a private man who felt his struggle with cancer was nobodies business." (my rants translated into a compact version by my Mother) Got to love that :)

  29. *-* Poxa, mas que incrível Rachel, I love heated discussions! You can always get great views! Congratulations on always being able to do this


  30. I was exactly thinkin about how Steve Jobs would feel about all this repercussion over his death... I agree that he has made a difference in the world but there are sooooo many ways to measure if it was a change for better or worse. And if we enter to that debate, the internet is not a place big enough for all our opinions.

  31. Was Jobs a genius... maybe, probably. Was he Einstein genius or a marketing genius, a bit of both?

    I never gave a fuck about apple until iPhone. And I have used computers since TK2000 a brasilian computer released in 84, compared by many with the Apple II+.

    I work with technology since 94, I saw internet start in Brasil inside University labs, again, no apple involved, Unix (Ken Thompson rocks also and Jobs probably praised him), IBM...

    Apple influenced a big deal, but also was influenced by other great minds. Would we have ipad without Jobs? If you are so naive to think NO, then you have been brainwashed.

    For every popular tech out there, there are similar that just didnt make it. Why? Some were worse, some were better but just had bad marketing (betamax vs vhs anyone?), some were bought by those who started first and sold their great minds to the corporation.

    The whole point about this post is that tech is becoming the new religion. Are people really mourning Jobs because he created a lot of jobs (no pun intended)? No, people have created an emmotional connection to a brand that produce a piece of tech, and because of marketing, he was the face of that stuff.

    Does apple or intel or microsoft or Tech related improve greatly our way of life, education, comunication, health... sure, but because people saw it as a tool. Its a tool, like xrays, scapels, black boards...

    Will apple stop innovating? Should all stocks be sold now, close everything, shut down the whole thing? No, life will go on and in the end he was just a pretty awesome CEO.

    Our society is going to a direction of complete shallowness (is that a word?)

    Not because people (and by people I say all internet users, if you ask the vast majority of humans out there (maids, cabs drivers, anyone in africa, etc) if they knew Steve Jobs died, they would reply, WHO?) have twited and posted fb status about Jobs, but because nowadays we rather not think about the hard stuff, we rather not fight poverty and corruption, life is too short for that and "thats someones elses job" attitude.

    Do I have a point? YES (kinda)

    Mourn the damn CEO, buy stickers of a brand and put on your car, but ALSO, think a bit of the real world and how there is much to be done.

    And before you say I am hypocrite, I garantee you I doing my part, and even if I wasnt, that argument is: "you are not doing anything, why should I"

    So lets not animals get extinct, pollution take over, aids kill africa, zombie invasion.. and still swipe and play angrybirds.

    For every thought or fb status of Steve Jobs, did you think or post another 5 that actually matters?

    Thats the kind of reflection asked in this post. And if you just wasted your fingers to write about how awesome jobs was, you kinda missed it.

  32. Maybe we should review our priorities when people start lamenting the deaths of dictators, murderes, molesters, rapists, and all the good ol crap human kind has bred.
    While we are lamenting a death of a way out of average mind man, I'm all good.

  33. What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and yet forfit his soul?

  34. Good insights. He contributed to this world, yes - I don't think anybody is denying that. Was he a saint, no.

    You might like this article: "Steve Jobs was not God" -

  35. The comparison people are making to Bill Gates misses the mark. A better comparison would be to Thomas Edison. Jobs has left an indelible mark on the world. Do you begrudge Edison's place in history too? After all, he is best known for his "products"...

  36. Hi Rachel,

    I have an iPod and Mac laptop. I love them, but I agree with you--I have a big issue with people deifying Steve Jobs. He was not God. I did feel sad when he died, because it's sad when anyone dies, but he was far from a nice man. I'm not denying that he was a game-changer and invented beautiful products, but look, there is a VERY dark side to Apple's practices and there is a human cost.

    I think instead of mourning him like he was a family member, the public should ask Apple to stop these practices. They have billions of dollars--they don't have to treat workers the way they do. It's ok to feel sad about his death, but it's also ok to feel sad for the people who get grossly mistreated to produce these products...

  37. Great articles! Thanks for sharing!

  38. Not to worry. Apple will soon be releasing Steve Jobs 2. "Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that in 2012 the company will release the Steve Jobs 2, an updated version of the revolutionary Apple founder featuring a richer, deeper voice and a sleek new white turtleneck.",26293/