To earn a place in the hallowed halls of Douchebag’s Row usually requires a career’s worth of hit-whoring, but for our latest inductee, I’m going to make an exception based on a single piece. As inevitable as the thousands of articles praising Steve Jobs – as inescapable as the thoughtful words of people such as President of the United States, countless Silicon Valley icons and leaders from every industry on the planet – some one-off classless scrawling about how Jobs was really not that big of a deal and that people should get over it was equally likely. I could tell you I was surprised that it came from Nick Denton’s Gawker Media, but that would be bullshit. In addition to severely compromising its users’ personal information and using stolen goods to blackmail people, Gawker methodically produces this kind of excrement with the frequency that a farmer milks a cow. It’s the entirety of their business model. Hamilton Nolan’s piece “Steve Jobs Was Not God” has no doubt generated hundreds of thousands of hits for the blog network that includes some of my personal favorites like Deadspin and Lifehacker. I, for one, will continue enjoying them, but from this point forward, I refuse to give them a single hit. Whether through RSS reader or other means, I will scrape the shit out of their content, but I will not allow Gawker Media in any way to benefit from my presence. I’d encourage everyone reading this to do the same.
I don’t link to scum like Nolan, but I want to expose my readers to the full context of what’s got me so hot. To save you from having to visit the site yourself, here is the article in its entirety, which will be followed by a section where I swear a lot. If Nick Denton doesn’t like me scraping his content wholesale and dumping it into my blog, he can thoroughly and vigorously fuck himself.
Steve Jobs Was Not God
So, Steve Jobs is dead. A tech genius has passed on. Sad. Certainly a devastating loss to Steve Jobs’ close friends and family members, as well as to Apple executives and shareholders. The rest of you? Calm down.
Among my Facebook friends yesterday, more than one wrote publicly that they were “crying” or “can’t stop crying” or “teared up” due to Steve Jobs’ death. Really now. You can’t stop crying, now that you’ve heard that a middle-aged CEO has passed on, after a long battle with cancer? If humans were always so empathetic, well, that would be understandable. But this type of one-upmanship of public displays of grief is both unbecoming and undeserved.
Real outpourings of public grief should be reserved for those people who lived life so heroically and selflessly that they stand as shining examples of love for all of humanity. People like, for example, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who—along with his family—was bombed, beaten, and stabbed during his years of principled activism in the US civil rights movement. Shuttlesworth died yesterday, the same day as Steve Jobs. He did not die a billionaire.
Death, of course, is not a competition. All deaths are sad for the living. Everyone deserves to be mourned, and well-known people will inevitably be mourned more loudly than others. But it is actually important to keep our grief in perspective. When we start mourning technocrats as idols, we cheapen the lives of those who have sacrificed more for their fellow man.
Steve Jobs was great at what he did. There’s no need to further fellate the man’s memory. He made good computers, he made good phones, he made good music players. He sold them well. He got obscenely rich. He enabled an entire generation of techie design fetishists to walk around with more attractive gadgets. He did not meaningfully reduce poverty, or make life-saving scientific discoveries, or end wars or heal the sick or befriend the friendless. Which is fine—most of us don’t. But most of us don’t provoke such cult-like lachrymosity when we pass on. When even the journalists tasked with covering you and your company are reduced to pie-eyed fans apologizing for discomforting your insanely powerful multibillion-dollar corporation in some minor way, some perspective has been lost.
I’ve never owned an Apple product. Yet here I am, talking on phones, typing on computers, and reading the internet every day. If you like Apple products, fine. They are products. They do not have souls. They are not heroes, and neither is their creator, no matter how skilled he may have been. Let’s mourn Steve Jobs as we mourn the passing of any other good man—modestly, privately, and quietly. Those of you whose remembrances have already taken on a quasi-religious tone: seek help.
Let the sentiment wash over you. Read it again if it helps. Ask yourself if the condescension of a blog hack telling you how to express your grief over the death of another human being is worse than the casual talking-point diminishment of Jobs’s contributions to the way we interact with technology. How do you feel about being gamed into feeling guilty about Jobs’s death when you didn’t mourn a civil rights activist who died of natural causes after a long life? What does the phrase “fellate the man’s memory”, one that I’m sure got Gawker 100,000 clicks alone, do for you? Nick must be so proud of you, Hamilton.
Here’s my wish for you, Hamilton Nolan. That some day, you’ll be sitting across from a potential employer talking about your work and that he’ll come across the putridness that you will – by that time, if not already – regret having written. My wish is that he’ll ask you about it and that you’ll know, in that moment, as your heart creeps up into your throat and your brow explodes in perspiration, that you’re fucked. I hope this piece is the only thing that keeps you from a cushy writing gig and that it happens at a juncture in your life when you can least afford it. I hope that your interviewer tells his friends who you are and that the experience repeats itself, humiliatingly, over and over and over. My hope for you is that you’ll be condemned to life writing the literary equivalent of crackwhore blowjobs, scraping the bottom of the barrel for hits while your 15 year-old band of starred commenters cheer you on. Welcome to Douchebag’s Row, dickhead. Everyone else here would be revolted to be in your company.
And no one will remember you when you’re gone.