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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Call Me, Tweet Me: Jobs’ death a reminder to step back from technology

Published: October 7, 2011
Section: Featured, Opinions

I haven’t yet joined the iPhone cult (BBM is just too important to my lifestyle) but I do consider myself a Mac person. In high school, I switched to a MacBook because it would be “much better when I got to college.” I didn’t really understand what could make it that much better … but then I got one. Only someone who has switched from a crappy Dell laptop to a MacBook can begin to understand the elation I felt. As it joined my iPod Classic, I fell in love with Apple. I’m now the proud owner of an iPad as well.

So why am I writing about Steve Jobs in my communication column? Simple: Not only did he revolutionize technology and the concept of personal computers, his technology revolutionized human communication.

As President Obama so eloquently put it, “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

For me, that meant a tweet from the Associated Press. “BREAKING: Apple says Steve Jobs has died.” Short, simple, to the point.

My column this week was originally going to be about the merits of Twitter in journalistic spheres, including instantaneous and easy access to breaking news and updates, among others. For now though, I’ll put that on hold.

Because of Jobs, Apple and other innovators, the personalization of technology has made easy communication more accessible to the masses. With the advent of personal computers and laptops came e-mail, instant messaging and social-networking sites like Facebook. We are able to talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, at the click of a button.

The ease, however, at which we can sit in front of Apple and other companies’ gadgets and tap away has had a detrimental effect on face-to-face communication.

As wonderful as it is that our friends, family and complete strangers have the potential to be just a click away, human interaction is, in my mind, still the most vital form of communication. Technological advances are great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s just nothing like sitting down for a long talk and a cup of coffee or (of course) a Diet Coke with a friend.

Steve Jobs recognized the importance of life outside technology. In his letter of resignation as CEO of Apple, he spoke little about his professional success or the technological advances of the company he founded. Instead, he recognized the relationships he had created through working there: “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, I use technology as sparingly as possible. I don’t catch up on shows I missed, I don’t respond to e-mails unless they are urgent and I don’t go on Facebook. Last year I was home and spent quality time with my parents and sister, and this year I plan to go to services with my roommate. Throughout the day, I will reflect on the past year and the coming one, contemplating how I will strengthen the relationships I have with my family and friends.

“You’ve got to find what you love … If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking,” Jobs told the Stanford class of 2005. For him, that meant the entrepreneurial path that brought me the MacBook on which I type this column.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I do know that this column is only the beginning. I love communication. I love learning about it, writing about it, talking about it and doing it. I’m still trying to find a way to turn that into a career but I’m going to keep looking and I urge you to do the same.

It’s beautiful not to know where you’re going to end up but it’s also (I would imagine) incredibly rewarding to figure it out.

So, take a break from the world that’s flying past you, and search, seek and scavenge until you find your passion. When you do, share it with the world.