The Steve Jobs Backlash Rears Its Head
Not everyone jumped on the “Godspeed, Steve Jobs” bandwagon when his death was announced. While the majority of the responses were of the “thank you” and “we’ll miss you” variety, not everyone broke out with a candlelight vigil to remember the fallen tech maven. In fact, some wondered why Jobs was being, well, deified to begin with. At first, the grumblings of backlash were hinted at, but now, a couple of days after the initial shock wore off, there are some very vocal counterpoints out there, ones that scoff at the idea of all the Jobs love that came forth.
It should be noted that this writer is not an Apple or Jobs hater. That being said, I’m not an Apple fanboy, either. I acknowledge the company made nice, but very expensive home computers, and you’d have to be a fool to disregard the impact the iPhone had on society, whether or not it was merely an “overpriced trinket,” or a crucial step in technology and communication evolution. For better or worse, people love their iDevices, be it the Phone, Pad, Pod, or Touch. With all of that in mind, however, not everyone has been praising Steve Jobs in light of his passing.
In fact, there’s a very real backlash going on, and, truth be told, some of it offers some very valid counterpoints to the “visionary” love Jobs has largely received since. The first place I noticed the backlash taking form as Internet content was from the “scumbag” meme that owes its origin to 4chan and Reddit users.
While it aimed at the #Occupy supporters, there’s also a little jab at Jobs as well:
There’s also some poking towards the Apple fanboys as well, thanks to the following captured comment:
While these two instances could be considered mild, there were a couple of publications that skirted actual criticism,starting with a post over at Gawker.com, with the title, “What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs.” By and large, the post keeps a respectful approach, opting for a “he wasn’t perfect” reaction.
One thing he wasn’t, though, was perfect. Indeed there were things Jobs did while at Apple that were deeply disturbing. Rude, dismissive, hostile, spiteful: Apple employees—the ones not bound by confidentiality agreements—have had a different story to tell over the years about Jobs and the bullying, manipulation and fear that followed him around Apple. Jobs contributed to global problems, too. Apple’s success has been built literally on the backs of Chinese workers, many of them children and all of them enduring long shifts and the specter of brutal penalties for mistakes.
But then Jobs never seemed comfortable with the idea of fully empowered workers or a truly free press. Inside Apple, there is a culture of fear and control around communication; Apple’s “Worldwide Loyalty Team” specializes in hunting down leakers, confiscating mobile phones and searching computers.
It’s an interesting piece by a publication that opts for the “despite all this, Jobs made neat gadgets” conclusion, which is understandable. A company like Gawker can only feel indebted to the fact Apple gave Gizmodo, a Gawker property, so much content to work with.
There is, however, another degree of the Jobs backlash, and it’s safe to say the author of upcoming piece won’t be ending his thoughts with a “well, he made cool devices” caveat. No, it’s safe to say the author at Slated.org was not a Jobs fan. If the title — Good Riddance Steve Jobs — doesn’t clue you in, nothing will. Some examples of the writer’s beef:
According to the CIA World Factbook, 160,521 people die every day. Steve Jobs was just one, and from what I can see he must have been very, very far from the best of them. I bet very few of the other 160,520 people who died that day ever made sinister threats to ‘go after’ an altruistic software project like Theora, or ran around suing everyone for making ‘rounded rectangles’ and ‘green phone icons’.
The assault continues:
Or how about the time Jobs bribed the police to act like they were his private security agency, to kick down the front door to a journalist’s home, seize his property and interrogate him like a criminal, just because of some crap iGadget accidentally lost by an Apple employee, after that journalist had already voluntarily contacted Apple and returned it to them? Or how about the daughter Jobs abandoned, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, and her mother, Chris-Ann Brennan, whom he also abandoned and left to bring up their daughter on welfare, and lied in court about being ‘sterile’ in the process?
So given the sort of monster Steve Jobs was, witnessing the spectacle of everyone from Joe Blogs to El Presidente gushing over him, like a bunch of schoolgirls at a rock concert, is absolutely sickening… As for being a ‘visionary’ … the only ‘vision’ Jobs ever had was the one he nicked from Xerox PARC.
Stay for the strong finish:
Yet this is the guy everyone is now fawning over?
Oh, but I forgot … he made lots of money. Lots and lots and lots.
So did Al Capone.
Ah yes, American capitalism at its finest, folks.
While that’s the end of the article, the author doesn’t stop there, defending all of his points in the subsequent comments section, and he does so deftly. You may not agree with the sentiment, but you have to admire how the author stuck to his guns and didn’t back down. Clearly, these positions are not the most popular, but there is validity to them. None of the examples given in these criticisms are factually inaccurate. In fact, the authors went out of their respective ways to document and provide links throughout their pieces.
The question is, are these “too soon” moments, or are they valid positions to take in the light of Jobs’ death? Let us know what you think.