Book review: Appletopia: Media Technology and the Religious Imagination of Steve Jobs

by Brett T. Robinson


A fascinating book. Technology is enveloping us in a new religious revolution, and Steve Jobs’ Apple Corporation, with its cult following, is leading the way. We gaze adoringly at media screens for hours a day, gingerly touching their magical user interface designed to help us overcome the linear thinking we were raised with. Jobs, by trusting in his esoteric brand of Eastern religion, has turned iEverythings into a sublime and transcendental experience, connecting humanity worldwide.

This is not a book about religion; at least not in the traditional sense. If you ride the current of the book, though, you realize that Jobs has led us into a new religion for the information age. A comment he made once after traveling from Delhi to the Himalayas, shaving his head and participating in various Hindu rituals in search of enlightenment, gets right to the point: “I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Karoli Baba put together.” It became clear to him that his mission in life was to help develop tools for the mind that would deprogram the Western mentality of linear rationality and formal logic.

For Jobs, technology was more than a tool, it was a way to elevate consciousness. He insisted on manufacturing computers without cooling fans to allow the user to achieve a Zen-like concentration, undistracted by the machine’s noise. His ad campaigns all focus on thinking differently.

Digital technology renders us omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent (the three omni’s attributed to God in the Bible). But is technology ultimately a false god? Are we reaching for the stars or are we shriveling inside? That question is left for you to decide.

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