Certainly, he made Apple into one of the most successful, valuable and idolized companies of the last 100 years.
And yet, I find significant fault with the overarching cultural, societal and individual impact his most popular devices (the iPhone and iPad, in particular) hath wrought. This following argument may even be extended to the Mac and numerous variations on e-communications that Apple (and many others, of course) have produced.
And while Jobs is the target of my current lament, the issue is much more about us as human consumers and users of information, and how our newest behaviors, governed by these "convenience devices", affect our interactions and social behaviors.
Exhibit one: My entire progeny shows up at the house with school out for the year and we happily gather in the family room, ostensibly to reconnect and catch up. While this purpose was quickly pursued, it even more quickly devolved into every single person (my wife excepted) putting their heads down, fully absorbed in their various handhelds and laptops.
And while this experience may resonate with you and your household, hold on, there's more. As this "social" interaction devolved further, three of the siblings began texting each other from 6 feet away, in full view and earshot of each other. In other words, they found it more convenient, or perhaps efficient, to communicate electronically when face-to-face communication seemed so obviously (to my wife, anyway), the better choice.
This similar scenario has occurred at family events in restaurants and other gathering places and, frankly, leaves me perplexed.
Sure, I've got 20-plus years on these miscreants, but come on, what's happened to real-life, flesh-to-flesh, "I can see you/touch you" interactions and 2,000 years of tradition?
Is it just me or is the social fabric of our society devolving into impersonal, truncated phrases spit out at e-speed over e-devices, leaving the true nature of our human experience at risk of e-obsolescence? And if the answer is "yes" or even "maybe," is it Jobs's fault?
I think it's safe to say that most if not all of our wars and other human-caused atrocities and disasters are a function of a failure to communicate, don't you? Is not a failure to listen, hear and understand the needs of others the primary source of corporate and familial dysfunction?
Do we love our handheld conveniences? Sure. Is this now-pervasive "innovation" driving a "risk" of society forgetting what real and effective communication is all about?
I think traditional communication methods that held up well for years are at risk of being subsumed by convenience, "coolness," speed, impersonality and current trends. All the while, we as consumers extol the virtuosity of its purveyor as a savior-like personality. Have we become members of the cult of Steve? Did he help us or did he and others like him move us closer to real ruin?
It's something to think about the next time you press "send" with a smiley icon. Perhaps a frowning icon would be more appropriate. I know, let's ask Siri.
CHRIS MANDEL is the president, Excellence in Risk Management LLC, and executive vice president, rPM3 Solutions LLC, a long-term risk management leader and former president of RIMS.
July 24, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications