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

wow, paranoia runs deep. Developers would like to build buildings in SF, affordable or otherwise, its the City that opposes those efforts. unless the developers are losing money on the deal.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

I don't actually think the left needs their help in distracting itself!

But developers obviously have an incentive to build only market rate units, so the city can require more BMR construction and leverage its control over the permitting process to keep the project profitable. There's no way developers will just build affordable units out of the kindness of their hearts.

I absolutely agree, though, that general anti-development attitudes are foolish, and only accelerating the removal of lower income people. We don't need to tear down any more victorians (yet), there's still a TON of wasted space. I think we should speed up the process and generate a greater proportion of BMR/section 8 stock.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

enticed and bribed into building. At some point, they just go elsewhere if the ROI is higher.

The more market-rate units we allow to be built, the more BMR units we get. Progressives typically do not get that relationship.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

You're a SV tech worker living in San Francisco and you label yourself "pretty far left?"

As I've known for sometime, these labels have become meaningless. All of the "pretty far left" people I know completely understand the concept of living near where you work (therefore you would live in SV). They wouldn't conceive of living in one region and working in another (SV to San Francisco). And if "pretty far left" people grasped that "green" concept there would be no need for two-story tall wobbling "tech" shuttles which are now more ubiquitous than Muni buses.

So why aren't SV tech workers living in SV? There's "diversity" and "culture" there.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

I would much rather work closer to home--no question. But, if I lived down there and drove to work I would certainly have a larger carbon footprint than I do commuting most workdays via the shuttle (not even accounting for the fact that I don't have a car in SF and walk or muni everywhere--which is nearly impossible where I lived in SV). Nevertheless, left doesn't just mean green.

The joke is on me, I guess, moving here because I wanted to be part of the 'political project that was the city'. SV is just as expensive if not more so, and I figured I could invest my time and money here rather than the 'burbs, which are fine but didn't feel like any sort of community. I'm married already so it's not about the amenities for single people--I don't do any clubbing! My spouse and I wanted to be a part of the SF project, which is still radical and crazy and beautiful compared to most places in the world. Sure, we also like walkability and fantastic weather, but also liked hosting occupiers (before that imploded).

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

Better to have some distance.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

And make sure you turn on everything that uses electricity when you get home and keep it on. Use as much electricity as possible. And then pay the bill.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

What do you do?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

shit bag entitlement.

Go back to where you came from and save those people.

Your sloven begging and "but I'm progressive too" supplicating is purely pussy.

Go back to where you came from and save those benighted souls with your do good blatherings, we already have out of town a-holes like Avalos and Campos.

I love how the excuse is "but we are progressives authoritarians too" so accept us.

Posted by Matlock on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

I couldn't agree more, but if you live here for very long you learn to ignore the hatefulness and stupidity --most can't even articulate what they're really pissed off about because they don't know themselves, they just know they're pissed off and someone's gotta pay. The key is to be yourself and accept yourself and don't worry about the haters, unless of course there's a flash mob converging on your workplace.

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

Someone is letting their white privilege flag fly.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Oh snap

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

The fact is that the entry level positions and the minimum wages jobs are not making enough money to sustain a life in the city. Who is going to sell you clothes, flip your burgers, and clean your homes?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

Not everyone can afford SF.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

How many times have you've spammed that comment on here in cut/paste style?
You're like listening to a broken record with your patronizing "those people."

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

I don't think the city should be cast, or caste, in Amber as the so called progressives whine on about...

But most of you tech types are douche bags.

Your "music career" blech.

Posted by Matlock on May. 10, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

Two people wrote:

"I have lived in SF in the Mission since 1991. Please don't tell me and others struggling to still live here what we should be doing and what we don't do enough of.
SF has become so pretentious. Techies or not, Valencia Street has become a complete shit show. There is barely any sign of community and cultural humility left on Valencia and other Mission streets, only high-priced restaurants and shops that none of us long-term locals can afford or bare to even walk by without feeling complete disgust."

Another person wrote:

"San Francisco is rapidly changing from a city that had something for everyone and valued its working class residents to a playground for "upwardly mobile" and "creatively involved" affluent or wanna be affluent people. And as I write this, the real estate vultures are doing everything they can to convert rent-controlled apartments into starter homes for the techoisie."

Yes, I agree. Others here are gushing over how this city is now better than ever. What drugs are they on? They must not get out much and actually see what's going on here. Or are they too busy looking at that screen and texting to actually see what's going on? Are some of the gushers from the Chamber of Commerce? Regardless, they're using public relations sales tactics (you know, the usual "just say anything"). To those who say the city is now better than ever, I guess they haven't noticed the over 27+ closed store fronts in the Castro district alone. Gentrification is ruining this city and quickly making it dull, bland and boring place to live. It's becoming another Tiburon. One Tiburon is enough. For example, the Castro has been so sanitized to make it "kids, strollers, family-friendly and straights friendly." All that translates into is: we are the same as any place else. We have lost what makes us a special place to be/live. That one special place had to be deleted by the conservatives/right-wing to become homogenized with this rest of this dying and decaying nation. When sit-lie became law, the BG wrote that "San Francisco has decided to join the downward spiral." Absolutely true and accurate. And it's been going downhill since.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

from born and raised resident > 30 years.

"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."

That's about the point I stopped reading, and let me congratulate you on your recent move to SF. For a gay, white male you're not as torpid as is typical of the establishment (tertiary or otherwise) but one thing's for sure, you mistake activity (music) for achievement (understanding).

You obviously didn't live here to see the hell that was wrought from the tech bubbles, housing bubbles (1995-2001) (2001-2007) respectively. The reflationary policies of the masters of the universe have all but been exhausted this time.

fuck off, and may all your assets deflate maximally...

Posted by capitalismthedecay on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:24 pm
Posted by capitalismthedecay on May. 10, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

That's not an alias, that's my name, smart guy.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 11, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

It is actually beyond bizarre that no one is talking about the huge influx of hot Chinese money into SF real estate, probably much larger than tech.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 7:43 am

I am glad the writer points to the futility of bashing and singling out of an entire demographic group, the target of blanket generalizations, suspicions and general hostility towards a segment of the "new" economy. But in effect he just shifts the calling out, suggests we "be angry at the money-hungry landlords that do absolutely nothing to put money back into the city or help build culture".

Is that really what we want to do? Blame landlords for rising costs in a rising market? Might as well blame people selling their condos at market rate to the next buyer. Should we really make assumptions about who does or does not "help build culture"? Seems to me to be an as meaningless generalization as the one you argue against.

Posted by Aksel Olsen on May. 11, 2013 @ 8:29 am

Do people think landlords should finance poetry readings?

These are just nonsensical deflecting complaints using buzzwords, like "starting a dialog" when no one cares about your agenda.

The everyone gets a participation ribbon mentality of our progressives and new comers.

Posted by Matlock on May. 11, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

"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."

That sounds very naïve. People have very different views of what "toward doing good" means, depending upon whom you ask. The bottom line: You want people to stop criticizing the techbots and their 2-story tall ubiquitous shuttles using Muni bus stops and instead say, "Welcome to San Francisco. We just adore you." That's not about to happen. This tech issue is as divisive as any other issue that one can think of that this and other sites write about. Nobody agrees unanimously on anything other than the "pro" and "against" sides and the people in each group. So there's not going to be some massive lockstep "we all love tech" agreement on this, as with any other topic. That's not realistic. It's wishful-thinking. If anything, things will continue as they are in that the status quo will continue. This article is not going to change anything or change anyone's mind, and the comments demonstrate that. That's being realistic.

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

Dear Johnny, I am a San Francisco landlady who aspires to be like Mrs. Madrigal of Tales of the City. I probably make half what you do or less, and do nothing? I pay hundreds of dollars in SF property taxes every month, volunteer for local non-profits, try to go to local stores over chains, and have educated 1000s of local school children. Thanks for the slam. P.S. Even though I own and rent property, I am not cash rich - like many other families in America, I struggle to buy food, afford to go to the doctor, and I fight for the 99%!

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 11:27 am

landlords. It's a failed system, and i do not blame any landlord who Ellis'es, takes what profit they can, and invest elsewhere.

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

...is supposed to be richer than her tenant?

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am
Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:35 am

I am Johnny's husband and I seriously doubt you make "half or less" than he does. He never said how much he makes a year, you simply chose to believe he makes a huge sum of money just as you assumed he meant you weren't helping your community (p.s-he didn't say that either). Tales of the City was the reason I wanted to move to San Francisco so very long ago. It took me much longer than I had hoped (I am in my 40s now) but I did it. I saved for years and years, sold my house I'd fixed up back in Indy, made a little money, got a low paying job in San Francisco to just get my dream started, and lived in the Tendernob (or whatever the fuck you want to call Bush and Jones) and saved some more, got a better job (still not making a fortune, btw...I work in a library and do just a bit better than "ok"), took our earnings from our house we sold and bought a place. We live paycheck to paycheck like so many others do here and prefer eating in Polk Gulch over Saison...not that we could afford to if we wanted to! Johnny started at a job in 2006 making 10.50 an hour. He lucked into a tech job that pays better than that, but still not enough to ever take a vacation or shop at Prada or whatever the Hell people think techies do. I love San Francisco. I love it bunches. I write a blog about it, I explore neighborhoods every weekend, and like to spend my money locally as well. We pay a shit ton of taxes on our 785 sq ft condo and though it sucks, I am happy to do my part to be in the city I love. Mrs. Madrigal would not judge Johnny, she would find common ground. She would smoke the peace pipe, throw on a caftan, and share a sandwich. You may want to read the book again-I think you missed the message.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

The dirty little secret of big tech companies is abuse of contractors, temporary workers and h-1b visa holders. The ones who play this game love to speak about their commitments to being cool workplaces, with great benefits and a commitment to social justice, yet they harbor an underclass of tech and support staff who are paid substantially less, with weaker (if any) benefits, in roles which are in no way contract or temporary. And these folks are strung a long as much as possible by the promises of greener grass with a permanent position. Some advice: if you want to improve Tech's image in SF start with this issue.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

That was 25 years ago. Since then I've gotten a green card, citizenship, married, kids etc. I'm now as Amercan as you are.

I was never underpaid, starting out in the 1980's on about 60K a year, and currently make 150K a year, which isn't unusual for mid-level tech guys.

No exploitation, I had full benefits from day one, and was always treated the same as everyone else.

Doesn't fit your cute and convenient little theory, does it?

Posted by anon on May. 12, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

"I'm now as Amercan as you are."

Whatever the fuck that means. You should have written:

I'm now as sheeple as you. Because there are many people throughout the Américas who have fortunately not allowed themselves to be sheeple indoctrinated and sheeple programmed the way you have and are.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

There's so much rage in the comments on this piece. Isn't San Francisco big enough for all of us? Isn't its glorious diversity wide enough to encompass every person and a myriad of viewpoints?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 12, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

diversity appears to be a thing of the past, if the attitude demonstrated here towards San Franciscans who achieve any kind of success is anything to go by.

Posted by anon on May. 12, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

You've never had any interest in "tolerance" and "respect for diversity" to begin with (none of you useless right-wing trolls have). You and the other trolls use the terms as Orwellian newspeak. You turn them on their heads. You're the same piece of right-wing work who in the past wrote about "white liberals can't commit to a woman." WTF? In your fucked up world, all people are supposed to be straight apparently, Mr Prejudiced. And you've written other fucked up, ignorant, prejudiced and bigoted statements. So you're the last piece that should be going on about "tolerance" and "respect for diversity" when you have no interest in either.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2013 @ 3:01 pm
heh

I live in the Mission and find most tech types boring, free of any interesting culture and bay Guardian like progressives to boot. One asked me if Black Flag was like Nirvana and seemed to assume they came from about the same time. After recovering from the culture shock I just said "yes," why bother? To me thats like asking if John Cougar is like Black Sabbath.

I don't care that they come here, I'm even acquaintances with some at the local bars I go to. I find them unusually ill informed about most thinks while being well trained rote progressives, the "we just want to be accepted" non sense here as an example. They have shown up like Johnny Avalos and are here to save us all, although I doubt many of them could name ten different presidents or states.

They are worth a laugh, thats about it. This progressive hand wringing around buses and class is just high comedy. The attempts at being ingratiating by them is also a hoot. Two tragic groups.

Posted by Matlock on May. 12, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

enough to make his shtick convincing.

Sure: somebody asked if "Black Flag was like Nirvana"; and thought they came from about the same time. Heh.

"Rote progresssives" are usually ill informed about "most thinks" .... John Avalos... blah blah blah.

Nobody is fooled by Matlock's shtick; he's a rabid winger, haplessly though gamely trying to keep promoting his "moderate" bona fides by citing counter culture icons as though he were there or knew the first thing about them except what you can glean from an internet source.

It's be like me trolling a winger site and mentioning the "Glock 17 with full auto conversion" or "Genesis 25:21-22" while taking shots at their intelligence or character.

Matlock, keep it up. Repetition is one of the three forms of humor -- along with repetition and repetition -- and you are starting to get really, really, funny.

:0)

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 12, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

And you have admitted being banned from even moderate sites.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

No one like really likes, poetry readings, unicycles, drum circles, Latino and native American shit that even those people admit is lame, ... Lilli has to try and claim some sort of interesting culture for himself, when the lameness of jamb bands kicks in, claim something cool as your own so you don't look utterly like an asshole.

Posted by Matlock on May. 12, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

I mean it, you are comical.

Counter culture icons, so good, Nirvana, a second rate Wipers.

Posted by Matlock on May. 12, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

but the corporate and real estate interests are doing all they can to eliminate economic diversity. While you might prefer those being displaced to do so quietly, some resist and have their efforts misrepresented as "rage." The wealthier classes tend to get their way without appearing angry, and why should they be angry when they have money, politicians and the law on their side?

Of course, the greediest among them do get angry at any attempt to limit their largesse. Pages and pages of comments attacking rent control and tenants living in rent contolled units attest to that.

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

and then the other lot say "Unions, blah blah" and "Tenants, blah blah"

When will all the hate based on stereotypes end?

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

...who, I think, believes that crime and poor people always go hand in hand. And who, as a result, doesn't want to ameliorate poverty but send all the poor people out of San Francisco.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:35 am

In fact, it is usually liberals who invoke it to argue that blacks only commit more crimes because they are poorer.

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

But instead of wanting to ameliorate the root cause, you just want to send anyone below out of the city to make them someone else's problem.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 16, 2013 @ 11:43 am
heh

I live in the Mission and find most tech types boring, free of any interesting culture and bay Guardian like progressives to boot. One asked me if Black Flag was like Nirvana and seemed to assume they came from about the same time. After recovering from the culture shock I just said "yes," why bother? To me thats like asking if John Cougar is like Black Sabbath.

I don't care that they come here, I'm even acquaintances with some at the local bars I go to. I find them unusually ill informed about most thinks while being well trained rote progressives, the "we just want to be accepted" non sense here as an example. They have shown up like Johnny Avalos and are here to save us all, although I doubt many of them could name ten different presidents or states.

They are worth a laugh, thats about it. This progressive hand wringing around buses and class is just high comedy. The attempts at being ingratiating by them is also a hoot. Two tragic groups.

Posted by Matlock on May. 12, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

Not only do I work in tech, but I do also happen to know the difference between Black Flag and Nirvana. AMAZING, right? I also know that Henry Rollins wasn't Black Flag's original vocalist. I know that Greg Ginn ran SST, one of the more prolific labels of the era. In fact, I used to live around the corner from the SST store/office on Sunset blvd. I used to read zines, real ones made out of fucking paper. And, yes, I saw Nirvana play many years later, in a tiny dingy dive off Pico blvd. in '91, scant months before idiots like you all of a sudden "found punk rock."

But I work in tech, so how could that be? How could it be that I listen to records, actually collect AND listen to them? How could it be that I, and others like me, are actually—whoa—interested in anything beyond variables and APIs and...and...NERD STUFF?

Is it because you think we're all culture-less people who are all 22 year olds who don't like the same things as you? And we're the close-minded ones?

Your assumptions about age, salary, and popular culture norms are all way off base.

Posted by Mission Dweller on May. 24, 2013 @ 10:22 am

San Francisco used to be big enough. Now everyone who is interesting (people that don't identify themselves as their job) is not in the city. I ran an underground community arts gallery in the Mission for 5 years. I remember when the neighborhood was engaging. Now its Disneyland for rich people. The techies should just admit it and stop acting like they are cool people. Just acknowledge that the Mission is the new Marina. The only difference is the yuppies here have more street fashion sense. Other than that they are exactly the same.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 10:50 am

What a perverse, prejudicial attitude.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2013 @ 11:02 am

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