From the New Jersey Jewish News November 30, 2011
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recently went after the late Apple boss Steve Jobs, blaming him for creating a selfish consumer society. Said Rabbi Sacks: “It’s all i,i,i nowadays!” (The Chief Rabbi later attempted to clarify his comments, saying they were not directed at Jobs or Apple, although his statement “the consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs” seems rather unambiguous.)
I was struck that Jobs was blamed for what Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone described as a society in which individuals increasingly live in isolation from one another.
Although I see countless selfless acts in my congregation on a daily basis, Rabbi Sachs is correct: We do live in a consumer-based society. Often times, we are far too self-centered and self-consumed, and mobile technology makes it easier than ever for us to remain in our own private worlds even as we are surrounded by others. I have certainly been guilty of this on many an occasion. If I am not careful my iPad makes it possible for me to be enveloped by my own world.
But that’s only half of the equation.