In the interest of full disclosure I have owned 2 Apple products in my life: a second generation Ipod nano (that I indefinitely ‘borrowed’ from my younger sibling because she didn’t know how to work it) and now a black chrome 4th generation Ipod nano when my previous one got dropped in a puddle.
I remember being a moron at Secondary school and carrying around a CD player with discs that I had copied downloaded MP3’s onto. I insisted to people that I ‘preferred the sound to that of an iPod’, little realising that it was the same format playing on both so the sound was identical.
The vast majority of my favourite albums I listened to for the first time on an iPod. Trout Mask Replica I listened to first time on an iPod, Vision Creation Newsun I listened to the first time on an iPod.
The device is inextricable from my musical education. Its portability meant that you could set off on walks or long journeys and listen to a wide variety of music without ever having to change the disc.
But this is where my allegiance to Apple products has run aground as I have never been able to work out how their other batch of landmark products would enhance my life relative to their prohibitive cost. Maybe I’m being wilfully naïve, as I was with my little CDs of MP3s, but:
– I’ve yet to get an iPad because the people that use them in public look stupid.
– I’ve yet to get an iPhone/smart phone as I find the internet a distracting enough presence in my life without centralising it right next to me in a device that I can’t escape from.
– I’ve yet to get a Mac because everything about the desktop seems deviant when you’ve been raised on a PC. The fact that you have to hold Ctrl to right-click is simply perverse.*
Apple package things in a stylish and intuitive way for the most part, but all of the things that their products do I can do well enough to meet my needs with my cheap Nokia and old laptop (even with its original keyboard decimated by wine spills). I think too many people unnecessarily fetishise the delivery system. You can listen to the same music, talk to the same people, read the same news on other less trendy devices for less.
So, although I can appreciate what Steve Jobs has done for the world of technology I don’t feel the level of kinship and identification with his products to the extent that some people feel.
Why I didn’t cry?
Something does make me uneasy about this new modern development of people loving the figures that have brought them their favourite products.
I saw this quote from someone on Facebook that I found quite staggering and made me feel a bit nauseous:
“In my opinion, the greatest leader of our time”
The greatest leader of our time!? There is definitely something of the Soviet Union in this. In a globalised world the creators of successful media devices are the new dictators and we must love them and not question them.
Social networks in general have a habit of encouraging people to play grief-chicken, to show who feels most devastated by the passing of a public figure they have never met. This particular outpouring of grief has been seminal. Imagine if Diana had created the iPod, Candle in the Wind would have never left the top spot on iTunes.
I find the prospect of deifying the dead uneasy at the best of times. It’s interesting how politicians are increasingly maligned and despised, but figureheads of giant corporations are embraced and loved. Neither profession is without a degree of moral ambivalence so the idea that it’s acceptable to routinely belittle politicians whilst LOVING the man at the head of a company that used child labour in its factories is one that I find somewhat uncomfortable.
It is easy to dislike world leaders because they haven’t brought out a platform you can play Angry Birds on. People have so many emotional attachments to the products that Apple have brought out because of all the creative things that you can do with them and all the interesting cultural experiences that they have been the delivery platform for. But we should not let the joys that Jobs’ inventions have brought us tactfully smother the complex realities of a man’s life.
So rest in peace Steve Jobs, thank you for the advances you brought to the world of technology. The iPod has certainly enhanced my life. Nevertheless it is a great shame when anybody is considered a saint.
*I think this has been changed on recent models, but it was nevertheless a creepy design choice.