ADOTAS – Even that tech CEO of CEOs, Apple’s untouchable Steve Jobs, can be a royal ass to everyday folks. It’s not uncommon for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be unfavorably compared with Jobs (I’m definitely guilty of that) because Zuck surely wants to seen as a similar charismatic genius.
Except while definitely being a genius, Zuck seems to emit negative charisma — oh, there’s also a high-pedigree movie currently in theaters depicting him as a scheming misanthrope.
Alas, Jobs has also received the Hollywood treatment via “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” in which he was portrayed less than favorably by “ER’s” Noah Wyle. Of course, that was a forgettable made-for-TV movie and Bill Gates got off worse — his stand-in was John Hughes’ favorite nerd, Anthony Michael Hall.
Jobs lets his sainthood slip from time to time, especially when he callously answers random emails in stereotypical curt CEO format. For some reason he decided to reply to a journalism student who sent him a hail-Mary message regarding the Apple Media Relations Department’s failure to respond to her interview requests.
“Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry,” he wrote to Chelsea Kate Isaacs, a senior at Long Island University.
That was pretty uncalled for, buddy — trust me, reporters are used to being ignored, it comes with the territory. Worse, the understandably miffed Isaacs had a few more exchanges with Jobs in which she shared her disbelief. Jobs got the final word: “Please leave us alone.” At least he said please…
Fortunately, the always classy Microsoft one-upped Jobs by making Isaacs the winner of some contest, sponsoring her email and bringing her to the Windows Phone 7 launch so she could talk Apple smack to reporters. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s a photogenic 22-year-old — trash talk about your rival delivered with a sweet smile is near priceless.
In Zuck’s everything is social, share-all world, our jerkiest moments can’t escape the spotlight, especially if our profile is high. When the social web emerged, users initially developed distorted Internet personas based on how they saw themselves — or how they dreamed themselves. But as online privacy continues to dissipate, our control over identities is slipping with it. Increasingly you’re naked as a newborn on the Internet, and there’s no way to cover up your warts.
In Jobs’ case, I would have suggested Mom’s favorite saying: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unless someone’s paying you to be a snarky Internet commentator, then be mean as hell — it gets page views!