Apple is a new religion


As news of Steve Jobs’s death pinged around the world this past week on the shiny devices he helped invent, fans of Apple products made pilgrimages to the company’s stores. They brought apples. They lit digital candles on their iPad screens. Some left condolence cards. Outside Apple’s store in Tysons Corner Center, a card had this message scribbled inside: “You changed my life. I love you.” The response to Jobs’s untimely passing at age 56 was so unusual — particularly for a former chief executive of a major corporation — that even some fans were taken aback at such a torrent of sorrow. “I feel bad for the guy and his family,” a friend wrote to me in an e-mail, during a friendly debate over whether it was all overblown, but “if anything, the outpouring of grief shows just how obsessed we’ve become with our electronic toys.” I do think, as a gadget nut, that there is some truth there: We are obsessed with our gadgets, Jobs was the gadget king, and people want to thank him for the sleek, addictive objects he left behind. But I also think there’s a greater, higher power at work here, a mystical truth that has emerged among more enlightened Apple fans and on the fringes of academic research.

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