The King Is Dead
Some people simply can’t comprehend why some other people would react to this man’s death in the way they have.
“Has the Pope died?”
“… It’s like some kind of religious sect.”
Normally I’d be first in there with the snarky comments, god knows I was when Michael Jackson clocked out. But not today. Let me try to explain why, to others as well as myself.
I’m not a spiritual man. In fact I’m one of the most virulent athieists alive on the planet today. I don’t believe in the Zombie Jew, the Big Beard In The Sky, The Jolly Fat Bloke, sparkle ponies, leprechauns. I don’t believe in anything. But humans probably have to believe in something, and that pretty much means my only option is believing in humans, and that I do. I believe that we are basically good, that we are capable of doing wonderful things and enriching ourselves as a species. Making ourselves better than we are. This is essentially the Star Trek philosophy.
Steve Jobs built a company that is focussed like a laser on making peoples’ lives better, by means of technology. Not just easier, but better. As the narrative from a recent iPad ad goes, “Now, we can watch a newspaper, listen to a magazine, curl up with a movie, and see a phone call”. Communicating, learning, enjoying ones time and enriching oneself, this is what all this technology is really for. The iPad ads might look like just schmaltzy ad blather, but Apple really, truly believes this stuff. It’s why they do what they do. They might not do it first, but they generally do it best, and they do it because they want to make peoples’ lives better.
And Steve Jobs is the man who decided that this should be so. His great idea was not the Mac, not the iPod and the Music Store, not the iPhone, or the iPad. His best idea was Apple, which is basically a machine for churning out all these whizzy, shiny things that people love. And he made that machine pretty much out of whole cloth in the last 14 years, and to a great number of people these things, this company and this man have an immeasurable impact on their lives. Not to everyones, but to many, and certainly to mine. Some men dream of the future, he built it. Genius, visionary, leader, these are words that are bandied about too easily, but in rare cases are true.
You see, he’s our Elvis. He’s our Beatles. He changed the world. He was our Steve.
And now he’s gone.
He died early, leaving behind a grieving family. He carried on, enduring intense pain and discomfort until he was no longer physically able. These things I have particular experience with, which also has a bearing on how I’m feeling today.
But mainly it’s the knowledge that there will be no more of his famous product introductions, or Stevenotes as they came to be called. There will always be new stuff, but not from him. No more of the famous Reality Distortion Field™. No more “one more thing”, no more “booms”, no more infectious glee as he reveals the new coolness. No more showmanship. No more, no more.
So that’s why we’re so sad. He was a truly great man, not without faults, who did truly great things, not without failures. He strove to make our lives better. He succeeded.
Soon enough we’ll get back to the cultish behaviour and the slavish devotion to inanimate objects. But for just this short while, you may have to bear with us.
Our king is dead.