DWYL and Other Legacies of Steve Jobs

Here, all along I thought I was some kind of unappreciative, uncultured, unhip curmudgeon who, alone in the world, found Apple’s Steve Jobs to be an insufferable bully and phony who built fame and fortune on the backs of others.

Then I met up with Miya Tokumitsu.

Met up with, as in I read her article “In the Name of Love” in Jacobin online, self-dubbed “a magazine of culture and polemic.” (Ah, polemic — I love both the word and the concept!)

Ms. Tokumitsu, who holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, in her polemic (love it!) takes on both Jobs and the culture of “DWYL” that he helped create.

DWYL, in case you’re as uncultured and uninitiated as I am, stands for “Do What You Love,” as in choose only a profession you’re passionate about. (I actually did — writing — but the profession didn’t always love me back.)

Please read her article to see why she disparages and hates both the concept and rhetorical imperative of DWYL. Meantime, I love how she takes on Steve Jobs (I’ve truncated her writing a bit, so you really need to read her masterful essay in its entirety):

Jobs … cultivated a very specific image of himself as a worker: inspired, casual, passionate — all states agreeable with ideal romantic love. Jobs telegraphed the conflation of his besotted worker-self with his company so effectively that his black turtleneck and blue jeans became metonyms for all of Apple and the labor that maintains it.

But by portraying Apple as a labor of his individual love, Jobs elided the labor of untold thousands in Apple’s factories, conveniently hidden from sight on the other side of the planet — the very labor that allowed Jobs to actualize his love.

Anyway, you get the idea: I was right. Jobs was a dictator enjoying fame and fortune — and doing what he loved — by breaking the backs of others who had to do the unpassionate jobs (pun intended) of actually doing a day’s work, out of sight, unappreciated and underpaid.

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