Compulsive Acts

A psychiatrist's tales of ritual and obsession.

So Long, Steve Jobs, and Thanks for the Apps

Who will shepherd us toward seamless human-machine integration?

Much has been written about the announcement by Steve Jobs that he is stepping down from his role as Apple CEO. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that no other person in our time has had a better knack for predicting our wants and transforming them into needs; no other person has had a better feel for our cultural pulse or has had more power to regulate it. As Mr. Jobs resigns from the company he cofounded and from the life he helped invent for us, a luminary departs into the sunset.

But he does not leave us alone. The many toys he created keep us constant company and give us some solace. And yet as we stare into our touch screens, it is hard not to feel a bit cheated: Were these highly enjoyable and addictive toys, these extra appendages we had to acquire, supposed to amount to something more? Was there a master plan in his mind that his sickness has now brutally aborted for all of us? Was he to guide us toward a state of seamless and contented human-machine integration, wrapped in slick design or floating in a cloud, not a single wire in sight? As we inevitably tire of i-Pad and i-Phone (for he also taught us to always expect more from technology and to patiently line up for hours for the new version of things), what or who will replace them? We trusted him with nothing less than our brains, allowing ourselves to become physiologically hooked on one genius product after another. What to do now when the "fix" starts yielding less and less of a "high"? Where do we flock? Who do we ping? What do we download? Like a god, we thought he would always be there to take care of our next need; to provide the answer in the form of a new, totally irresistible product, announced to us in his signature blue jeans, black turtleneck and wire-rimmed glasses. In that comforting look and that unfailing ability to deliver after a suspenseful wait, he was as reassuring and trustworthy as he was restless with the status quo.  

See All Stories In

Can Anyone Become Steve Jobs?

What it takes to be a creative genius.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

There is a bit less comfort in the world today. Unable to imagine life before his contributions, and unclear on who will shepherd the next chapters of our tech evolution, we are justified in feeling a little sad and unfulfilled. So long, Steve Jobs, and thanks for the apps.  

 

 

Dr. Aboujaoude is a psychiatrist and author based at Stanford University. His most recent book is Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality.

more...

Subscribe to Compulsive Acts

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?