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.