“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
-From Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign
Why in the world would a website like Sattvic Planet glorify the lyrics from a television commercial of a powerful corporation? Over the past year on multiple occasions I have written about the destructive role that corporations play on the health of people and planet. I often write negatively of the pharmaceutical industry, genetic engineering companies such as Monsanto, junk food companies such as McDonalds, and extractive companies such as Exxon. Yet, this is the third time a quote related to Steve Jobs has appeared on Sattvic Planet in the past year. Jobs led Apple to become the most valuable corporation on the planet, and today everybody and their mother has an Apple product in their pocket. Apple has very much become a mainstream product, perhaps not to the extent of Microsoft or Coke, but they are in no way a part of the counter culture. The irony here is that the Think Different campaign of the late 90’s appears to be born of the counter culture. In a society of mass conformists afraid of being different, the Think Different campaign is at least partly responsible for launching Apple to new levels of wealth and popularity.
A quick Google search reveals many people giving credit for the quote mentioned above to Kerouac. For a moment I believed it, as it seems like something he might say. Upon further searching I learned that an executive working for the advertising agency hired by Apple makes a detailed public claim as to being the author. I must admit, the quote is very inspirational to me, and I would be thrilled to learn that it was born from Jack Kerouac, an American writer from the Beat Generation. But it was not; instead the quote was born from corporate America, so should I dismiss it as yet another example of propaganda meant to promote mass consumerism? Life is rarely so black and white, and in this case the Think Different campaign is definitely a shade of grey that requires further inspection.
Steve Jobs was born 60 years ago on February 24, 1955. While he may not be the author of the quote mentioned above, Jobs was clearly the driving force behind Apple and played an influential role in deciding what image would be presented to the public. Despite being the founder of the most valuable corporation in America, he was a product of the counter cultural movement that emerged in America during the 60s and 70s. Raised in the San Francisco bay area and having spent time in Portland, Oregon, and even India, Jobs was in no way your average CEO. To me he represents the power of human potential, and the ability to create something from nothing. Like Jobs, I was not born to wealthy parents, and I never graduated from Harvard, yet I am one “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world”, this website is evidence of that. So, while Apple has transformed from being a rebel in the battle against giants like IBM, to the mainstream mass producer that they are today, some people choose to wear their logo like a designer purse. However, I prefer to view their products as powerful tools because ultimately that’s all my computer is, a tool used to accomplish a task, and whether you use your tool to “push the human race forward”, or to show “respect for the status quo”, that is your decision to make.