“What’s everybody freaking out for,” a good friend questioned me Wednesday night. “Is this really that big of a deal?”
In some ways, he had a point. The slew of Facebook statuses, tweets and other postings from my fellow millennials commemorating the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seemed a little out of whack. I mean, isn’t this the generation that doesn’t vote, doesn’t know American history and (gasp) doesn’t read the newspaper?
Although it is easy to write off the strong reaction to the news of Jobs’ passing by high-school and college-age students, I’d argue that the flood of those who were commemorating him via Facebook status is not a reflection of social-media bandwagon jumping but rather a true testament of how large an effect Jobs had on our world.
Yes, his passing was that big of a deal, and even those most out of touch with technology, current events and politics understood it.
Innovators come and go. Each and every day, we’re bombarded with a host of new inventions that claim to revolutionize the way we conduct our everyday lives.
But rarely does an inventor think up something so game-changing that it not only provides an easier way to do something but also fundamentally alters the industry itself.
Jobs didn’t just think up one or two of those. No, he crafted and released a series of products, and their effects have yet to be fully comprehended.
Take the iPod, which drastically altered not only the music-listening experience but the music industry altogether. Then comes the iPhone, one of the most-widely used and highly functional pieces of technology on the planet. That all-in-one device can give you step-by-step directions to dinner while simultaneously helping you make reservations, read reviews of the menu and text or talk to your friends to make sure they’re still meeting you there.
As for the latest Apple masterpiece, the iPad, who knows how the tablet industry (which has Apple to thank largely for its success thus far) will revolutionize the way we consume media.
Like I said, innovators come and go. But what places Jobs in the elite category that’s home to the likes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford is that his products aren’t exclusive. Rather than creating the best in one category of product, Jobs consistently sparked brand-new categories.
His technologies altered the way we live our lives each day. The fact that I’m typing this column on a MacBook thousands of feet in the air while flying cross-country is yet another testament to the new technological horizons Jobs ushered in.
That’s the beauty of his genius. Long after Jobs has been buried, a new generation of technological entrepreneurs still will be adding and improving his products — or the products that eventually replace them.
As President Barack Obama said this week, the fact that news of his death spread like wildfire via social-media posts authored on iPhones, iPads and MacBooks might be the ultimate example of how ingrained his products truly are in our daily lives.
Jobs will be missed. But through the amazing technologies he’s brought us, his legacy will surely live on.
Wesley Lowery is a senior studying journalism and editor-in-chief of
The Post. Send him your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.