Are you there, Internet? It’s me, Megan.
Like a lot of people right now I’m reading articles about Steve Jobs’ resignation from his CEO position at Apple. And you know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think he had died. Every article I’ve taken glanced at reads like an obituary. Anyway, being that I’m a nerd, I decided to see if the Internet had similar sentiments. So what did I do? I searched “obituaries” & “obituary” on Twitter & here are some of the results:
“All these Steve Jobs Resigns news stories look like obituaries. Guys, both Jobs and Apple are still alive.”
“All the Job retrospectives going out tonite are written like obituaries. He’s still alive & bet he’ll keep kicking.”
“Guys, Jobs is alive and still at Apple. It is not time to write obituaries, and some of tweets look like that.”
And this one written by @justwright is my favorite because it coins a fantastic portmanteau:
“Jobituary (noun) an obituary-like article, published upon resignation, in which your job and life are equivalent.”
I hope it’s okay that I only credited the Tweet actually worth crediting because I don’t really know etiquette for Tweet-attribution on blogs by amateur linguists. But first of all, I think it’s great that I can see who’s thinking what I’m thinking by using Twitter. I can’t quite describe why it gives me such delight, but it does. Second, I really hope that Steve Jobs doesn’t die soon (an unfortunate, but not impossible event) because, well… would Reuters just re-publish this same article with only minor adjustments? I’m not sure how tasteful that would be. I even wonder if news sources drew upon their prefabricated obituary in reporting his resignation?
In short, I think that these articles that were written to sound like obituaries (detailing his battle with cancer, his medical leaves, trumpeting his achievements, etc.) are bad news. I have no familiarity with journalistic writing, so I couldn’t really begin to tell you how they could have been written to make him seem less moribund if not already dead. But someone better figure out something with a little more tact to prepare for the event that he actually does pass away while his resignation & the reports of it are still alive in our minds.
However, not every report has been so bleak. In fact, here’s an essay that cheerfully reminds you that it’s NOT an obituary.
Anyway, this is only tangentially related to language, so I’ll quit while I’m ahead! I do hope that Steve Jobs doesn’t read too many of his jobituaries — they would certainly depress me!
Megan L. Risdal