Monday, January 4, 2016

Sung and Unsung Heroes

Steve Jobs, the former billionaire CEO of Apple, producer of this very laptop on which I write these words, died in 2011. As the news spread throughout the world, people who had never even met the man but simply had added to his considerable fortune mourned the loss, weeping openly at flower-laden memorials that sprang up outside of Apple storefronts everywhere. I can't remember doing  anything special to mark his passing, since he was nothing special to me. Yet to so many, he was a virtual God.

I learned about him watching "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine," a movie about his life that aired on CNN last night. As a film it was boring and uninformative, skimming the surface but never diving deep enough to explain what was so great about the man. But I learned what made him not so great, like turning his back on both the mother of his child and his child, even denying paternity to avoid paying  child support. (DNA proved his paternity, and he eventually coughed up $500 a month despite having millions at that point.) He also screwed his oldest friend and business partner, the genius who actually designed all the whiz-bang products, out of much of the lucre derived from the business.

It seems Jobs was a savvy businessman with a twisted ego, driven to succeed and armed with a winning personality and a great head of hair. Yet even in death he remains a hero to millions, who pray daily at the altar of their video games and iPhones and iPods and iPads and Mac laptops. Several Hollywood movies of his life have been made, each claiming to depict "the real Steve Jobs," as if it matters.

Instead of Steve Jobs, we should shine a light on the lives of relative unknowns like Mitch Snyder and Lenny Skutnik, true heroes who still inspire me. And all those divorced dads nobody ever hears about who can hardly afford it but still send in their child support each month. And each one of us who rises to new heights, just because we couldn't live with ourselves if we didn't.

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