The death of Apple billionaire Steve Jobs earlier this month garnered attention from people all around the world. Millions mourned his passing and paid respect to his life’s work, calling him an inspiration and genius to technology and innovation.

A similar thing happens with most celebrities and others in the spotlight — Michael Jackson, anyone? When someone of public recognition dies, the media is all over it, and continues the coverage well after his death because he is “important.” Granted, most of the time it’s well deserved coverage. These members of the spotlight have made enormous contributions to society through things like the arts, technology and leadership.

If this is the case, however, then why do other prominent figures of society seem to be left out of this “death coverage?” When a Supreme Court justice dies, you don’t see reporters in a frenzy over the details of his death, or similarly with the passing of government leaders, Nobel Prize winners, etc. Something is out of balance.

Even if these types of public figures were covered more after their death, problematic issues would still exist.

According to the Population Reference Bureau’s 2010 World Population Data Sheet, about 156,000 people die each day. The United Nations states that 25,000 of these people die of hunger or hunger-related causes. Why is no one paying any substantial attention to their deaths?

These individuals may not be important because of their contributions to society, but they are important because they are human beings. You might not see their names on the Internet or printed in the latest tabloid, but their deaths demonstrate a greater problem with our individualistic society — the fact that so many are still dying of preventable things like hunger and infectious diseases, and how we just don’t seem to care.

I’ve heard many times that a society is judged on how it treats its weakest members. How can we continue to ignore the deaths of so many that could have been simply prevented through awareness and relief efforts?

Instead of focusing on the deaths of those who we’ve already lost, even if they created a strong legacy as in the case of Steve Jobs, we should focus on preventing the deaths of those who are most at risk.
You might think that these people are nobodies, that their lives and deaths don’t deserve to be covered; after all they are just regular Joes. But they’re regular Joes who are ignored by society. In this day and age, we have the technology to help alleviate and eventually eradicate poverty and some common diseases. Sure, it’s never fun to focus on the downfalls of society and the nitty-gritty, but isn’t it better than constantly following those in the spotlight? Isn’t it better than ignoring true problems and, instead, settling for superficial celeb information?

If the right resources are used for the right efforts, poverty could significantly decrease and many deaths could be avoided. People who have been cast away and left to be ignored could be saved. By even preventing just one unnecessary death, society can benefit. These people aren’t any less important than you, I or any individual in the spotlight. Who knows? Perhaps the next great innovator is among one of them.