Skip to content

As the world turns

Steve Jobs’ high school photo

Arrested at the Wall Street protests

Old people can be so dumb.

Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement, 2005:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Back in May when I wrote the “Got a revolution” post, I was in almost a state of despair at the passivity and invisibility of today’s young people as our democracy and our economy are stolen out from under us by our political and corporate elite. How could they — for a timely example — be flocking to Apple stores and building entire lifestyles around their technology, while failing to grasp the message that Steve Jobs, a heretic and a visionary, was trying to put across to them. Could today’s young Americans really be as stupid and deluded by propaganda as today’s older Americans (see Medicare sign, above).

How ironic, that Steve Jobs, one of the greatest free spirits of our time, the son of an Arab father, a rabble rouser, became CEO of the biggest corporation in America. Does that change my views of corporations? No. It just reminds us what corporations ought to be, and what corporations ought to do: Bring good things to people at prices they can afford, don’t prey on your customers, beat your competitors by being better rather than seeking a monopoly like Microsoft, and leave government to the people.

Steve Jobs was a philosopher. He was a Martin Luther. He was a Martin Luther King. I hope he is remembered for a long, long time.

And finally, as the Wall Street protests show, our young people are waking up. They know who is eating their lunch. They know who is lying to them.

They also are wired.

The stage is set, I’m afraid, for unfolding events to slowly work out an extremely important historical question. Will technology enslave the people — top down, through surveillance, snooping, the commoditization of personal information, and 24/7 propaganda? Or will technology liberate the people, bottom up?

Our young people will decide. As of today, with young people in the streets, I am optimistic.

I’m also reminded of words by my friend Rob Morse, in his column in the San Francisco Examiner, on the death of Herb Caen, the venerable columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle whose death left San Franciscans almost traumatized.

“We’re on our own now,” Morse wrote.

One Comment

  1. dcs1964 wrote:


    I’m not a big, gushy Mac person because I never was able to afford their stuff, so I’m not a big, gushy Steve Jobs person, either. However, I, too, remember the impression that Jobs’ Stanford address made on me when reading about it and reading it. I can never live up to the central message, of course. I’ve been too cowed into submission.

    I, too, am inspired by the Wall Street protests and the stirring, belatedly, of the young people. I try to talk my students now and again about current politics and how they feel, and I was coming to the conclusion that they simply think nothing about it. That they simply don’t know anything and don’t follow the news. As a historical or cultural matter, they don’t even know what the word Watergate means. But some, I see, are awake.

    On the last point about Internet slavery versus freedom, I’m afraid that’s already done, and slavery won. Sorry, I study privacy law for part of my living, and it’s really already done. We lost.

    We are definitely on our own now.


    Monday, October 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *