Steve Jobs memorial in front of Santa Barbara Apple Store
Paul Wellman

The recent passing of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs engendered the kind of public attention — and for some, personal reflection — that we’ve come to expect any time a cultural “icon” departs this realm. But what makes Jobs’s death different from others is how clearly he’s impacted all of our day-to-day lives. One might have strong feelings attached to “Billie Jean” or fond memories of watching Elizabeth Taylor in Giant, but the number of people who actually live differently because of either work is probably small.

It’s almost redundant to try and illustrate the scale of Apple’s seemingly tyrannical rule over our lives. The news of Jobs’s death spread across iPhones and iPads like a worldwide technological flash mob that every one of us partook in, in his memory, without even realizing it. Jobs, sometimes it seems, knew us better than we know ourselves.

“The thing about [Jobs] was being ahead of the curve, and showing people what they want,” Billy Gadnick remarked outside the State Street Apple Store Thursday morning. “The idea in business is to have your customers tell you what they need; [Jobs] said ‘I know what you need, here it is.'”

Gadnick, accompanied by his cocker spaniel Biff, has been using Apple computers since 1985 and is curious about what this will mean for the company. “What’s the future of Apple as being the innovator?” he asked. “You have to imagine that there are other geniuses out there, but whether the planets will align that way again? I don’t know … “

Todd Wilson, who was also visiting the Apple Store, said he was inspired on a personal level by Jobs’s story and his values. “I just listened to his commencement speech at Stanford,” remarked Wilson. “He said, ‘You’ll never do anything great unless you love what you do.’ That meant a lot to me.”

Another area resident named Tony Grosse seemed to be interested in the broader implications of how we remembered Jobs. “As a figurehead for the Apple Corporation, it’s sad to see him go,” said Grosse, “but as far as people getting emotionally distressed over this, that’s kind of ridiculous. Honor his life for what it was. Respect him for his good work.”

Some said that Jobs’s death reminded them of the deaths of John Lennon and Martin Luther King Jr. Some said that his death, while tragic, was inevitable and didn’t mean much to them personally.

Regardless of how one feels about Jobs, or about his passing, one thing is undeniable: Your life is different, and possibly better, because of him.


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