I had mixed feelings about the public reactions to the passing of Steve Jobs. I think it is interesting how we often have a tendency to emphasize one aspect over another. It’s natural, but I think it is even more extreme when someone dies.
There is an expectation or an understanding that you only say nice things out of respect for people that have died. I’m not here to say bad things about Steve Jobs, but to share my own conflicted feelings about what he accomplished and the consequences of those accomplishments.
After Jobs died I played two fairly lengthy audio recordings in the background as I worked. I watched his memorial service and then clicked on the 60 minutes piece in the side column of YouTube. It was the kind of contrast one would expect between a memorial service and a “news” piece. The 60 minutes interview was with Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Job’s biography. The 60 Minutes interview confirmed the part I felt conflicted about.
Jobs helped drive the creation of some amazing products. He also had human failings like all of us. I guess in a situation like this the highs are higher and lows are lower… a daughter he refused to take responsibility for until forced to, very loyal early Apple employees that got no stock options when everyone else got rich–even when those around him we arguing that he should share. I feel uncomfortable going gah-gah over all the amazing products he helped create while overlooking the personal sacrifices and loss people gave so that they could happen. Stories of broken relationships, missed holidays with families, etc., all to ship the perfect product.
I suppose I wouldn’t want to be eulogized or remembered for the negative things I’ve done in my life either, but that is not my point. The question I’m asking is, “So, we have this very cool technology, etc.” and I keep wondering, “Was the personal loss worth it?” and how do you decide. Perhaps this is one of those things you “just know” and it’s different for everyone.