Avoid Living Life Like a Lemming
Choose wisely.

Steve Jobs is one of my mentors. He had the ability to think outside the proverbial box. Jobs wanted to take on IBM in the computer market. He compared George Orwell's novel, 1984, to what IBM was doing in this commercial, "Why 1984 Won't Be Like 1984."

Jobs wanted to avoid America becoming lemmings in the new tech world. Merely following the leader assumes several things. First, there is the assumption that the leader is good at being a leader. Secondly, it assumes that the public can make good decisions. Finally, the leaders are concerned about the public.

Apple pushed the envelope even further with another ad attempting to warn customers from becoming lemmings. At least one potential lemming woke up to Apple's concern.

In both commercials, Jobs and Apple wanted us to be fully human and not merely act the part of lowly lemmings in life. Lemmings live in the tundra in the Arctic and are related to rodents. In the 16th century, there was the belief that lemmings, during storms, fell to earth like rain. While that theory has been dissed, another theory arose that lemmings were susceptible to live mass suicide by jumping off cliffs. That theory developed due to finding many drowned lemmings near the rivers in the Arctic rivers due to melting snow and ice. The dead lemmings were due not to mass suicide but merely the result of being caught up in large groups of migrating lemmings around the water areas in the Arctic. Since large numbers of lemmings migrate, some of them will inevitably drown while crossing rivers and lakes, like this one in Norway. Lemmings are able to swim short distances but will drown if they attempt to swim longer distances...hence the spotting of drowned lemmings.

Description: Tunturisopuli Lemmus Lemmus.jpg

A Lemming

There has been a great deal of discussion about those two commercials over the years. Jobs wanted to wake America up to living life to the fullest not merely live like human lemmings. The gist of both ads is to be whom you can be and not merely blindly following a leader who happens to be following someone who calls him/herself a leader.

The issue of lemmings extends to all aspects of our lives. While I am not Jobs, nor am I on Apple's board of directors, I do attempt to emulate the way Jobs thought. This applies to everything in life from politics, social issues, and education. Those areas of concern and others have been topics for essays of mine for years in newspaper columns, magazines, my website, and teaching.

For example, I have taught at the college level for nearly two decades. When I teach onsite or online, I will give the class a handful of simple rules when beginning the semester. What rattles me is that many students do not take education seriously. They often do not follow my written directions, which will mean that I will have to explain the directions. Even worse, some students will compound the issue by being lemming-students by following mistakes that other students made. It intrigues me that they behave like this cartoon.

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Human lemmings

The choice is clear and it is up to us to decide whether we become all we can be or merely function at the lemming level of life. Choose wisely.

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