Hey, you! "Tech people" are not the douchebags you think we are

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I hear a lot of talk, especially from my own queer community, about how “tech people” are ruining San Francisco. From skyrocketing rent prices and disappearing diversity to economic and cultural ruination, the tech community has become the scapegoat for a lot of the problems we are facing in the city as a whole. As a tech worker, I'm writing this to say: wake up and direct your anger at the real sources of these problems.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. The vast majority of “tech people” in San Francisco don’t make nearly as much money as you think they do. We are not making six-figure salaries, we are not personally driving up rent costs, and we are not killing the cultural community here. Simply put, we are trying to further our careers and make the city we call home a nicer place to live. 

From day one of living in San Francisco, I’ve put blood sweat and tears into building the cultural community in SF (music, mostly), and I’ll never stop doing that. I first moved here with my husband in 2006 from Indiana. We fell deeply in love with the city while visiting several times early on in our relationship, and knew this was where we wanted to call home. Of course queer acceptance came into play, but I loved the fact that the city had a life of its own, an entity with which I felt a kinship. I immediately immersed myself in the music scene here, forming a touring band and quickly becoming a booker and promoter for live shows. It wasn’t until several years into my time here that I snuck my way into the tech industry. Thankfully all those hours spent in my parent’s basement as a child on the computer helped! Here I am, five years into my tenure at Bay Area music tech startup Thrillcall, hustling every day to help build music communities not only in SF, but across the country.

I bust my ass doing this for modest pay just to get ahead and know I'm working in a field (music) that I love. I know many others like myself who have day jobs in the tech community that do the same.

However, accusations that I’ve been hearing lately would have you believe otherwise. Claims that “people like us” are ruining San Francisco by gentrifying everything and pushing out what San Francisco truly is. Protip: the Bay Area has, for quite some time now, been a hub for technology. This is not a new thing. Stop acting like it is. Directing anger towards us for what you consider woes to the community at large here is way off base. Bubbles have happened constantly since the early 1990s (or hey, 1840s), and anyone who has lived here for long can tell you this is true. 

The tipping point for me, to be honest, was the nonsense of people beating up a “Google Bus” piñata in the Mission, shouting epithets about how they’re the bane of San Francisco. The people that ride those buses are not to blame. They are not heading up that company, they don’t make millions of dollars, and they certainly don’t deserve the hatred being directed at them by many people here in San Francisco.

They’re utilizing a method of mass transportation (cutting down on carbon footprint) provided by their employer. If you want to be angry about something, be angry at the company, not the people who work for it. If you want to actually do something about it (beating a piñata in a public place solves nothing), then take your grievances to the heads of the companies you think are responsible for the predicament that San Francisco currently finds herself in.

You know what is ruining San Francisco? Complacency. Apathy. Misguided hate. Inaction. Put some energy into making change, not senseless whining.

If you’re upset about rising rent costs, be angry at the money-hungry landlords that do absolutely nothing to put money back into the city or help build culture. Want SF prices to stop skyrocketing? Let's organize and drive proposals with our city government. Upset about the recent sanitization of many of the lovely traditions and values of San Francisco? Get mad at a-holes like Scott Weiner, who is actually supported by a lot of longtime, non-tech residents. Want more culture, arts, music? Maybe try reaching out to people that can help in the tech world instead of complaining about everything going downhill. 

A vast majority of the tech workers here in SF are upwardly mobile, culturally involved people. We are not ruining this city. We live here for much more than just the jobs we have. We love it, and it’s where we call home. We have as much control over the cost of living here as everybody else. And we are not the companies we work for, however large or small. Corporations, for the most part, suck. We all know that. Demonizing the people that work for them (while contributing to this wonderful city) is baseless, classless, and makes you look like a total dick.

We’re not the douchebags you think we are. Let's put our energy toward doing good, instead of just pointing fingers. A great deal can be accomplished if people took an active role toward coexisting, rather than shouting “ENEMY!” to anyone who will listen. 

 

Comments

Good on you for making an effort. But by and large, a lot of "tech people" who are moving here today have no interest in this city and being a part of what makes it great. They are here for the job and the money.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:16 am

By and large, a vast majority of the tech people I know (and there are a lot of them) love this city and it's culture.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:26 am

think that there should be a place for losers in America and that this is it. Most people are here, or anywhere else for that matter, for jobs, families and real things. And not some discreditted 1960's hippie dream that all we have to do is not shower and all the world will be peace and love.

Welcome ot the 21st century.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:33 am

it was those very dreams that caused SF to be so desirable a place to live, and which fostered the rogue innovations that fueled the birth of the tech industry. So you're basically talking out of your ass. PS many of us hippies have familes thank you.

Posted by admin on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:37 am
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Invented the Internet.

Posted by admin on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

The whole switch to "invented" was, of course, reactionary paper-tigerism.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

The military (more specifically, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA) gets a lot of the credit, and rightly so, but a lot of the work they did was funding and overseeing a collaboration of universities. (Also, as I recall, Al Gore cosponsored the bill that appropriated the funding for much of the early Internet research, which is what he actually, originally, and accurately claimed to do, but that got condensed to "invented" somewhere along the way. Should've had a better error correction encoding in that transmission system, amiriteguyz?)

Anyways, setting aside the fact that most educated people are left-leaning, I can also tell you firsthand that software, especially, is peculiar among engineering disciplines for how much overlap there is with hippiedom, in everything from a concern for civil liberties to a taste for giant beards and psychedelics. Not all software people are lefties, obviously, but the further you get into the realm of deep wizardry and legendary nerds, the people who wrote - and then gave away - the software that is the foundation of our modern computing infrastructure, and are still today writing and giving away yet more - the more you start to see that while these people's technical forebearers might sometimes be apolitical, their moral and more broadly intellectual lineage can be traced through Luther, Thoreau, and Marx all the way down to Timothy Leary.

So yeah, thank a bunch of bearded, smelly, Birkenstock-wearing, dope-smoking, solar-powered hippies from Berkeley and Cambridge.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

Hippies are only one iteration of the many crazy folks who've been drawn to the Bay Area.

Not even the most interesting one, if you ask me.

As for the birth of the local tech industry, pretty sure credit has to go to the universities, Cal and Stanford in particular.

Posted by Nick on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:22 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Wasn't television invented in SF, way back in 1909, in workshop at 200 Green St?

Without the glowing screen computers never would have happened.

Posted by pete moss on May. 11, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

Absolutely! And the elitist snots (what an unfriendly snooty bunch, from my experience) have never heard of the concept of living near where you work otherwise there would be no need for two-story tall wobbling "tech" shuttles which are now more ubiquitous than Muni buses.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:29 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

I thought you said you were going to work on your reading and comprehension skills. Doesn't seem to be working. Again they didn't serve you well. I've capitalized the word you missed:

"the concept of living NEAR where you work"

Or do you need to see a credible ophthalmologist? (in addition to a psychotherapist).

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:39 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

1. Less time wasted by commuting

2. Less pressure on infrastructure.

3. Better for the environment.

4. More likely to be invested in the community in which you live if you also work there.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:24 am

1. I don't like the area my job is in

2. I don't want to keep running into workmates on the week-end

3. I don't want the people I work with knowing me too well, or my home situation

4. I don't my boss to think it is easy to call me in if he needs a spare hand

5. I just don't want to.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am

I notice that all of your objections have to do with you as an individual, rather than what's good for society. Why do I have a feeling that, like Margaret Thatcher, you believe there's no such thing as society. I'm sorry life has made the thing you do with a third of your time is so horrible that you need to spend the other two-thirds so cut off from it.

If you want to commute for an hour on a freeway, no one's going to stop you. The rest of us are going to work toward something a little friendlier, faster, and more integrated that won't kill the planet quite as fast.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

Nice generalization there. Did you talk to most tech people about who they are and what makes them tick? If they are there for the job and money, they might be in south bay.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 8:21 am

If they are there for the job and the money, they are probably in the Bay Area. This is not isolated in San Jose.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:05 am

You're going to be beat up endlessly in the comments but personally - I appreciate what you had to say here.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:21 am

here with the aim of wanting to appear "balanced". It may be too little, too late.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:34 am

makes you seem like an entitled "upwardly mobile" douchebag. What about the existing residents who aren't "upwardly mobile?" By definition, not everyone can be. Thanks for displacing us. Have you bought a TIC yet? You know, skin in the game.

I overheard one of your tech cohorts, undoubtedly "culturally involved," explain over her smart phone on formerly working class 19th Street and Capp, "If I buy a place and move in, I can kick out the tenants."

Of course, the Google Bus is not the perfect symbol for the ongoing gentrification fueled by the speculative tech boom, but your piece shows how clueless many of the workers who ride those buses are.

If you share our anger at the owners of the tech companies, then quit the industry rather than sell your skills to them.

We have taken our grievances to the owners of the companies. And what do we get for efforts? Tax breaks for them. Looking at you Twitter.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:27 am

So what?

Had it ever occured to you that maybe the city benefits from having eceonomic high-producers? But derives little benefit from someone like you?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:39 am

"If you share our anger at the owners of the tech companies, then quit the industry rather than sell your skills to them."

If you'll pay closer attention to the article, I actually work for a small startup. Light years away from the tech giants you're focusing on, but the sentiment remains re: blaming employees.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:40 am

depends on all of its cogs. Monkeywrench the system or accept your role in it.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

from the inside. Many of us are doing that, while you watch, rail and rant from the sidelines.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

or is the system changing you? From my viewpoint, not on the sidelines by the way, liberalism (ie changing the system from the inside) is failing miserably.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

maybe just a manifestation of the fact that your skills do not coincide with where the demand is?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:30 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

The exploitation of some human's labor by others. You just like your position in the system (probably a combination of a good birth lottery and your efforts) so you choose to ignore it or accept it as the Reagan/Thatcher bullshit TINA.

Our privilege still depends on others digging shit out of the ground for us, producing food for us, or working to produce our goods at slave wages (and sometimes dying for it--RIP Rana Plaza workers.)

Carry on, you combination of an ostrich and rising tide apologist.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

I was born poor, went to public school and paid my own way thru college.

I exploit nobody - that's just the myth that losers and failures tell themselves to feel better.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

investing in equities of companies that profit from the exploitation of labor. Congratulations on your social mobility. Does it make you feel better to label others "losers and failures" because of their economic position? You are describing one-third to one-half of humanity, at least.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 7:26 am

SF progressives have the luxury of dismissing human wants and needs, as well as human nature.

Posted by Matlock on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

really? you sound like an exploiter. i think you are right for yourself and wrong for everyone else.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:04 am

Why is everyone in tech supposed to be all the same any more than everyone who works as a teacher, a medical professional, an electrician, or any other group the same? When has that thinking ever been part of an enlightened point of view?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:55 am

You cannot fight a class war, as SFBG likes to do, without first categorizing a class of people, and then demonizing them.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:11 pm
um

except we published this piece to actually help humanize the tech work force. So there's that.

Posted by admin on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

Why not treat people as individuals, rather than stereotype them as members of a class?

Why would you ever even thing that tech workers are more this or less that in the first place?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

This categorization is something that I hear from others. My opinions here simply seek to diffuse those views that I've heard coming from so many people.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

rather than try and replace one stereotype with another.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

I agree with this message. My friend in Seatlle calls people like this young Koch a "clerd." On one hand, he's angry with what's happening to San Francisco and is aware of the apathy, etc. On the other hand, is he doing anything about the apathy, etc. that festers at the company where he works or with his colleagues, gay and straight? Does he realize that there's very little culture that remains in San Francisco outside of "Gay" culture (clubs, etc.) that anyone can afford? I'm assuming that he makes less than $50,000.00 a year and that he shares a domicle with several other people, which means that he may have $200.00 - $500.00 a month left over for disposable income and has no intention to build up his savings or credit. That's the situation for people who are not among the Clerds of San Francisco.

Posted by I agree with this message. on May. 11, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

I agree with this message. My friend in Seatlle calls people like this young Koch a "clerd." On one hand, he's angry with what's happening to San Francisco and is aware of the apathy, etc. On the other hand, is he doing anything about the apathy, etc. that festers at the company where he works or with his colleagues, gay and straight? Does he realize that there's very little culture that remains in San Francisco outside of "Gay" culture (clubs, etc.) that anyone can afford? I'm assuming that he makes less than $50,000.00 a year and that he shares a domicle with several other people, which means that he may have $200.00 - $500.00 a month left over for disposable income and has no intention to build up his savings or credit. That's the situation for people who are not among the Clerds of San Francisco.

Posted by I agree with this message. on May. 11, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

Too many who should simply move elsewhere instead try and stay, whine a lot, and try and ruin the place for the rest of us.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

Haters gonna hate.

I heard all of this during the dotcom boom and bust...and I am hearing it again. Statistically speaking the douchebag factor in tech is no greater than the douchebaggery in the general populace. Basically xenophobia is one of the most persistent behaviours the world over. Fear of the other. My advice is to develop a thicker skin and realize that the people critical of you are by and large fearful and ignorant. The good news is that the human being is capable of getting over itself if the will is there and the brain is intact.

Hopers gonna hope.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:41 am

fortunately fizzled out. No doubt some joined Occupy more recently which, not coincidentally, also fizzled out.

This too will pass.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

The City has been changing my whole life. I have lived in and out of her all that time. It seems that most never want it to change from how they know it; from their experience.

It has always been changing and always will. It is a better place now than it ever has been. We don't have as many poor. We don't have even a small percentage of the dilapidated housing we used to have. In saying that we have still lost of lot of the culture of the past, the poker rooms, the Fox Theater, the Jazz Clubs in Fillmore, Fern Bars, Maiden Lane when there were Maidens there..Sally Sanford's place (1144 Pine), Fleishhacker Pool, Playland, etc. etc.

They're all gone. Missed by those of us that knew them or knew of them. Despite all of that being lost, decade after decade, it is one of the most magnificent Cities on earth.

Ron

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:44 am

better because you pushed out the poor. In a time period when a greater percentage of people in this country are poor. St. Francis would be proud.

Let's rename San Francisco Mammonville for accuracy.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:52 am

observation that crime is declining.

Is that true?

And if so, is that somehow bad and wrong?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

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