The UK Telegraph reported Sacks’ comments over the weekend, which were made at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen last week.
“The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune [sic], i, i, i. When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i’, you don’t do terribly well,” he said.
Sacks’ comparison of the Apple co-founder to Moses is unlikely to have pleased Jobs, who was greatly influenced by Buddhism.
“If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you’ve got an iPhone but you haven’t got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness,” Sacks went on.
However, Sacks’ comments are unlikely to have gained nearly as much press attention had he not singled out Apple and Jobs. Leaving the issue of speaking ill of the dead aside, it seems laughable to suggest that a culture of selfishness has ony existed since Apple was founded, or that one single company would be responsible for it. Sacks, however, does have a history of speaking out against materialism.
But it later emerged that Sacks is in fact an Apple customer. A statement released by the Chief Rabbi’s office after the comments were first reported reads: “The Chief Rabbi meant no criticism of either Steve Jobs personally or the contribution Apple has made to the development of technology in the 21st Century. He admires both and indeed uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis. The Chief Rabbi was simply pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far.”