Please Stop Hauling Out Steve Jobs's Ghost

By Mat Honan on at

It is easy to speak for the dead—after all, they can't correct you. You can safely put words in the mouths of the deceased and trot their lifeless bodies out in public to wag a finger or nod in approval, with no fear that they'll complain. This is especially true of Steve Jobs.

It's tempting to say "Steve Jobs would have done this," or "Steve Jobs would not have done that" because he was a familiar figure and we do have a good idea of his sensibilities. But that's a lazy rhetorical device, and it's devoid of real meaning. If it did have any authority you wouldn't see, for example, people arguing both sides of an issue—like whether or not he would have approved of the new iPad.

Thing is, the one thing we know about Steve Jobs above all else is that he was an iconoclast who defied expectations. He took big risks and anticipated market changes long before the rest of us did. One of my favourite stories about Jobs is that he killed off the iPod Mini just when it was Apple's best-selling iPod. Who saw that coming? He built an entire persona around surprising us. That makes it really hard to say with any certainty what he would or would not have done. Oh, so you think you know what Steve Jobs would do? Then why haven't you already done it, smart guy?

After his death, Steve Jobs has become a critic of software, language, logos and product names (sometimes all at once!). He weighed in on the look of the new Apple TV. He poo-pooed Apple's decision to pay its shareholders dividends. He posthumously expressed his support for Occupy Wall Street and, conversely, the one-percenters safety school of choice, Hampton Sydney College. In fact, he now loves private schools, like Madison Preparatory Academy. His ghost would enjoy reading a book about Saul Bass, as well as several of his own obituaries.

 

 

That trope is particularly galling when it's used to ask and answer in the affirmative. Would Steve Jobs have released the new iPad? Yes! How do you know that? Did you ask him with your Ouija Board? Talk to the Ghost Whisperer? Take a bunch of acid? And what am I to think when I see someone arguing the counter point?

It's pointless drivel that does nothing to advance an argument. And ultimately, so what? If Steve Jobs were Apple, the company would have gone out of business before his body was in the ground. They are not one and the same. Sure, it may be a reflection of him, and he unquestionably was its visionary who was ultimately responsible for so many of its great products, and its remarkable success. But Apple is not Steve Jobs, nor vice-versa.

Steve Jobs is dead. He doesn't need to do another day's work as your puppet pundit. Let the man rest.