Conduits of my self

Me, my daughter, and my first iBook, circa 2003

I’ve been immeasurably sad since I heard the news that Steve Jobs had passed.  It probably seems strange to some that I would mourn someone I’ve never met so intensely. But maybe it’s not so strange.

In the summer of 1998 I ordered my first Mac: the original iteration of the iconic Bondi Blue iMac. I’ve hardly touched a Windows machine since. On that computer I started down a path that leads me to today, as I began writing my first public journal on Diaryland in fits and starts at that time. The beginning of my Mac era was also, fittingly, the beginning of my online writing life.

Two years later I purchased a G4 Cube – the only machine in my twenty-plus years of computer-owning that I would describe as being objectively beautiful. I still have it, stashed away on the top shelf of the closet in my office, layers of dust collecting on its thick, translucent lucite. I always intended, and still intend, to give it space in my office somewhere as an object d’art, and an object of memory. On this computer I started the first blog I kept consistently – a LiveJournal under the embarrassingly nerdy handle “Migrainegirl.”

Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I bought one of the early iBooks. I have a whole photo album’s worth of pictures of The Kid in those early years sitting on my lap, pounding its keyboard and staring at its screen in wonder. On that iBook I started this blog. I used it, and the two MacBook Pros that followed it, to collect, transmit, and store all the recorded memories I have of my life and my daughter’s life, in photos and video. I built and rebuilt (and re-rebuilt) the website for MamaPop. I built my daughter a personal website of her own, and there curated – and still curate – a collection of things she loves. Over the course of a decade, I made friends, shared with others things that excited me, and openly wept while I wrote on those laptops.

Computers are more than tools, more than just machines. To me, and to many others, they are conduits of the self. Through them, I’ve transmitted self expression and shared who I am honestly with the world for the majority of my adult life. And what is more profound, more intimate, than that? Maybe it isn’t possible to love a piece of technology, not in the human-to-human sense, in the traditional sense of the word. But it is possible to love the incredible freedom of expression, limitless possibilities for personal and professional growth, and creative opportunities that a piece of technology has given you. My Macs have allowed me to grow into a life where I am self-employed and own my own businesses. My Macs have given me the tools to write for a living online. My Macs have connected me to people I now consider to be my closest friends in the world. How can I not love, in a different-thinking way, a thing that has given me all of that?

I have named all of them, since that first Bondi Blue iMac, “Singularity.” The name describes the source of all things, the original wholeness, the one that becomes many – fitting for the one device that contains, constructs – and ultimately helps direct and disperse – so much of my life. On each and every desktop, I titled the icon for the disk and attached an image to it resembling something akin to 2001‘s HAL, an act emblematic of my sense of the thing as more than just a thing. Many of us do this, I suppose. We name our cars and lend personalities to them. We ascribe character to machines and accept the quirks that come along with them, just as we do with people. My Singularities have all been faithful troopers, stalwart custodians of my digital self. And so I suppose it makes sense that the death of the man who made all of these things possible – these tools, and these loves – would seem personal, and that it would stir unexpectedly profound emotion. I look around my home and see his fingerprints everywhere. I pick up my iPhone – the only phone I use anymore, honestly – and still marvel, each and every day, at all that it is. I look at this computer screen, at this interface, at this blank space I am typing into, and feel the power of his genius and all it has given me.

Steve, I am so grateful. And I am so heartbroken. Thank you for everything.

This entry was posted in favorites, misc. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Conduits of my self

  1. That’s exactly why I cried, too.

    The man brought me back to life.
    I was dying here, in our small town, where I couldn’t fit in.

    And now, everyday: I have a place to go.

    God bless you, and I am more grateful than I can ever tell you, Steve Jobs.

    Thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ack. Sniffling now.

    (While typing on a somewhat-battered, workhorse of a MacBook that I’m hoping will last out the year, even though I know there’s nothing more glorious than leaving the Apple store with a gleaming, beautiful new slate.)

  3. Jen O. says:

    Confession: I have never personally owned an Apple product. Not on purpose – I’ve heard they’re fantastic – I just haven’t.

    However, Jobs’ fingerprints are all around my house – a family iPod Touch, Nanos for the kids, my husbands iPhone. He definitely changed everything.

    • kdiddy says:

      I use both and like both, though I find Apple to be a little more…precious. But I dig that.
      I’m not super affected by Jobs’ death. It’s mostly just too bad that someone young had to die in such a yucky way.

  4. Avitable says:

    I love this post. He was a true visionary, and I loved how he managed to run a business and stay true to his Buddhist ideals. He really will be missed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was really profoundly affected by Steve’s passing, too, though what really killed me the most was those awful pictures the rags printed of him wasting away. I had a fight with the BF who was annoyed by all the outpouring of grief on the Twitter earlier this week, because, as I said to him, whether you’re a Mac or a PC, you can’t deny he changed the world, and he made it a better place, not just because he invented new technologies, but because he inspired this sense of wonder, this feeling that OMG we’re IN THE FUTURE. I’ll miss his keynotes, his mock turtlenecks, his…energy, to sound new agey and dippy and oh now I’m tearing up again, dammit.

  6. MarinkaNYC says:

    Thank you for this post. For the reminder how beautifully intervowen our lives are with the technology we use. How connected it lets us be. The downside, of course, is that the mourning is more intense than we expect. xo

  7. Issa Crazy says:

    I adore this post. I have been sad since I heard. For many of the same reasons. The man changed our world and the way we do pretty much everything. I think we owe him a lot of thanks.

  8. This was the most beautiful post about Steve’s passing I’ve read yet. Thank you for articulating what I’ve been feeling.

Comments are closed.