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

Seemed like the Big Troll Lie redundancy had been dying down. Let's keep it that way.

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

but now that it's become a playground for the rich, it lost all its character. Without a diversity of peoples, artists, families, etc., it's not interesting. You can have it.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

some 20 years ago. Now it has a stronger economy, better jobs, less crime and poverty, better restaurants and museums, BART to the airports, and a more international feel to it.

You can keep the hippies, and there is nothing "diverse" about having a lot of losers here.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

LOL. 27+ closed store fronts in the Castro district alone is your idea of "a stronger economy?" You must not even live here or never get out.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

If San Francisco has become such a bore for you, have you considered moving, for example to Detroit? They can certainly use some more people there.

Posted by Otto Von Titslinger on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

They want the rest of us to do a 180 just because they cannot make it here.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

Moving right along, nothing to see here, keep an eye on your iPatch, ask no questions, get out of town in 2 years and you won't know how or whether the city has changed or not.

Posted by CLUE: NEW APARTMENT LEASES NOW REQUIRE 2-YEAR MAXIMUM STAY on May. 11, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

People who live in San Francisco for little over 6 years but "know" everything about it and what is best for it and feel compelled to educate those of us with 20+ to a lifetime crack me up.

Yuppies Suck!

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 11:59 am

Actually this was spawned from a disagreement I had with someone who has lived here even less time than I have.

Yuppie? LOL I'm so far from a yuppie it's not even funny.

Yes I own my home in the city, but how does that make me a yuppie? You just sound bitter.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

crappier job than a techie, is still renting in his 40's, and acts out about that by lashing out at those who have achieved even a very moderate amount of success here, and in much less time of course.

Ignore him.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

I liked your piece, Johnny, and see no reason why someone who has lived here for six years and has obviously thought a lot about these issues is less entitled to speak than someone who's lived here for decades and whose attitudes may have frozen.

On the other hand, while I think the term "yuppie" is outdated and vague, you have to admit that owning their home just isn't financially possible for most San Franciscans. People who aren't even comfortably off do own homes here for all kinds of reasons, but the initial assumption is that a homeowner here has a larger-than-average income.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

a home. It is only necessary that there are ENOUGH SF'ers who can afford a home, such that all homes for sale do in fact sell.

Which they do.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

Rather, I was showing that it doesn't matter, even if it is true, for you anyway.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

How does that make you a yuppie? Dude, *you're* the one who used the term "upwardly mobile" with pride. Just sayin'.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

This place is the land of milk and honey; apathy is certainly not killing it. I've lived in a poor city for most of my adult life and the homeless people here live better than most working class citizens in New Orleans.

However, all the tech douchebags who can't get their shit together and ask me on a date are ruining my life. They're all boring squares who are too busy to have fun (and instead are writing cranky articles like this). Mama needs to get some.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

And you cannot get a date because the guys you like are in the wrong job?

Whoa.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

People in SF don't even get my jokes! Dammit. Someone write an article about it. And also include a whole wheat bread recipe.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

gluten-free. LoL

Posted by admin on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

The reason everybody hates tech company people is that they are building the greatest attack on human privacy in the history of the planet, right in Downtown SF and Silicon Valley. The "Poor" programmers and "SEO Engineers" and Search Engine underlings are building "tracking technologies" which spy on every single that that one does online. The "little people" in the workforce are designing and building this spyware. If you work at a company that uses "business intelligence" or "ads" or user data you are abusing everyone that uses the web. I saw this posted on reddit about why nobody likes Google:
"

"GOOGLE is ACTUALLY DOING MUCH EVIL! They are simply a spy service. Every location you search on google earth is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies. Every word or sentence you type into google is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies. Every page you click on in google is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies.A data file about everything you do on the internet using any google technology is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies.

Google makes most of its money by spying on people.Why would you use something that makes you cooperate in spying on yourself? Everything you watch on googles youtube is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies.

Google reads all of your email. Google sends any interesting emails with words it doesn't like to agencies and the rest are put in an advertising database to trick you into thinking you stumbled upon certain ads when, in fact Google is secretly pushing those ads on you.

Google GLASS is the ultimate spy-on-you-tool, it has face recognition, fashion recognition and pretty much spies on everybody and everything around you, and you, and then Google sends that data off to the Government. Never get near anybody wearing a Google Glass. Ask to have them out-lawed. Google Maps camera cars take picturs & capture wifu data for everyone in the US.

Google saves a file of everything you have ever done, looked at, sent or moused over IN YOUR ENTIRE HISTORY OF USING THE INTERNET. It isn't a business right anymore, it is an abuse of the public trust. https://anonfiles.com/file/08d71da7cfd68cc782e50cd156283457

Google has thousands of people that work for them to create technologies to control the internet in order to make people give more information to google about themselves and that personal information is logged and tracked and sold to government agencies and ad agencies. Do you like being used as a tool? Do you like Google infesting your life for profit and special interest control of what you do? Twitter & Facebook are just as sinister and evil. Dump all 3 of them.

Use www.duckduckgo.com or any other non tracking search engine. Find a non tracking replacement for every service google offers. Google is very evil! You will NEVER be able to trust Google.

Write your Congressman. Tell them to outlaw Google data capture. Join a class action lawsuit against them"

PLEASE RE-POST"

Posted by Paul Westin on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

You should not be online - they are WATCHING you

Posted by Richmondman on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

Seriously, the problem is one of wages. There's nothing wrong with the city getting nicer, or with rents going up. The problem is that wages are not keeping pace.

For the work I do, (not tech, incidentally), my father would've been upper middle class, and my grandfather would've been upper class. Me? I'm barely scraping by, and happy to be able to live in the family house. I heard it said that minimum wage in the 60's would be equivalent to $22 an hour now--not a ton, but definitely enough to keep up with the entry level techies. There is absolutely no (good) reason why working class folks shouldn't be making enough money to live in the city still.

So, rather than targeting workers (can we have some solidarity please?), why don't we focus our outrage on those who are keeping wages down?

On a total aside though, the neighborhood where I grew up, and where my family has lived for four generations, has over the decades gone from being upper middle class, to lower class, and is now creeping back to upper middle class again. Someone I had never seen before, probably not from the area, yelled at me the other day for ruining the neighborhood. And I was born here!

Posted by Nick on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

or what you would like. It's determiend only by the value you are perceived to add.

If your SF living standards are below your parents or grandparents then that speaks to the fact that the value you are perceived to add is now less, relative to others here who drive the cost structure.

We pay by results and not by need.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

Do you actually believe this?

You think that the CEOs who are running HP into the ground are perceived to be worth the $80 mil or so in golden parachutes that they've received? How about the shadow banking managers who manage to pocket tons of money while jumping through loopholes the size of Bermuda? These folks are perceived to add value?

Pish posh.

I'm hardly a class warrior for extreme egalitarianism, but you don't need to be one to recognize that the wealth distribution in this country is not based on merit or value-added. Bus drivers getting paid more than teachers, university football coaches being the highest paid public employees, bah!

Posted by Nick on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

not the real issue here because that is a matter for the shareholders of that company. If they are happy to pay him 100 million a year, then it's none of your or my business.

But what you seem to be saying is that you don't get paid as much as you would like. That may be true but your boss sets your salary based on what he thinks you can do for him, and not on what you think, want or need.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:54 pm
Posted by Paul Westin on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

Your little private bus lines that ferry you down to the South Bay for work are a blight on the City. You take up bus stop areas. You kill Muni ridership. You damage the City's infrastructure and the Bay's infrastructure. Knock it off with that shit.

Posted by Jonathan Nathan on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

does not go to the Valley?

What it does do is "kill" car commuting down 101, which is good, right?

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

People who taked shared transportation to the south bay are not hurting muni ridership or damaging the cities infrastructure. In the past those people were driving a car single occupancy. These shared buses are brilliant for the environment. Unless you can tell me which Muni line runs to Mt. View?
The reduced cars on the road are reducing the costs to widen roads and repave them more often. The reduced cars is also obviously doing something to protect the environment.
Imagine if 101 was filled with buses with multiple riders vs all the single occupancy vehicles on the road today.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

While I don't think these buses are a bad thing on balance, the argument could be made that a perfectly good public transportation alternative exists, and fewer people taking Muni to Caltrain to the Peninsula means fewer Muni riders.

However, it's pretty obvious that the Bay Guardian's editors' real beef is that it's privately owned and can only be used by some people.

Posted by Hortencia on May. 13, 2013 @ 11:30 am

and kudos to the SFBG for putting it on their website after months and months of continuously lumping all techies into one large, despised, rich, entitled, gentrifying group.

I would point out, though, that Scott Weiner has done, and is doing, more to help the SF nightlife than just about anyone else in the City, so maybe you might want to rethink the "asshole" you dubbed him to be.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

I simply hold that opinion of him for the fact that other actions he has pursued make it seem like he wishes to sanitize the city (i.e. the nudity ban). Aren't there more important issues at hand here than a few people walking around naked?

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

and I'm hard pressed to think of another SF politician who is working harder on more issues than he is. Politics are local, and the people in his District were sick of these guys' constant cock exhibitions, so he took action.

but, lets not digress, thanks for the article. I hope that it in some small way makes the reactionary vitriol that is spewed upon "techies" mellow out a bit.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

much of the wealth created here (which apparently, liberals hate) is not from IT at all but such fields as biotech, management consultancy, banking, law, medicine, fund management and other service-oriented profressions.

SF has a modern, high-tech, professional, service-oriented economy and, comparing us to somewhere like Detroit, thank God for that. The American Dream is still possible here, but not there. Long may it continue.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

most of them on the bus make 3 to 4x what the rest of us make, they ride those buses because they are too good for the transpo the city provides, which would be better if it wasn't for the people it was made for taking their own buses.
The buses often run empty, INCREASING the carbon foot print, cause who is going to work at google before 10am? none of em. The buses add traffic and are a huge burden on the infrastructure of the city and give nothing back to anyone else.

Senseless whining isn't apathy. Maybe the energy is mis directed, but you can't say people are complacent AND doing something at the same time, even if you think it has no purpose.

My biggest problem with this piece though is that you assume that "tech" is the same as IT, or doing mid level things with computers. The "tech" that is pushing out SF are the designers and developers at the huge companies who do get the 6 figure salaries. No one is mad at you for being good at emails. You aren't tech. That you'd consider that tech shows how not tech you are.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

"No one is mad at you for being good at emails. You aren't tech. That you'd consider that tech shows how not tech you are."

You have absolutely no idea what I do in my job, and I very much am a part of the tech community. Your tone insists that you're woefully uninformed in much of what you say.

Posted by Johnny Koch on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:51 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

Kudos for writing this article. I've been hearing versions of "the tech industry is destroying San Francisco" meme since I moved here in the early 90s.

It was bullshit then and its bullshit today.

The solution to affordable housing is to build enough of it, especially along transit corridors, but oh noze, we can't do that because it would alter the character of the neighborhood (translation: affect someone's view). The other thing the city can do is run public transit to the burbs late enough and frequently enough that people don't feel compelled to choose between a social life and a decent place to live. NYC figured this out a long time ago.

Looking for boogeymen isn't going to solve the problem. Electing public officials who are committed to getting rid of barriers to building housing in line with demand will make a difference.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

thing we ever did was build BART, which opened up affordable homes for 30 miles around while still giving those folks the hour commute that people on the west-side of SF have anyway.

High-rise residential along transit corridors plus extensions to BART are the solution.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

Nerd resentment transcends San Francisco.

Perhaps it stems from evolutionary behavior where the wannabe alpha males (or alpha females) of a group resent the importance of the tool maker. In High School, if grades (ie: symbolic rewards based upon intellectual pursuits) just disappeared then the jocks and queens would feel better being undisputed alphas, and not feel an inferiority complex due to displays of nerd intelligence being appreciated by "The Man".

After all, respect and influence should only come from political alliances (popularity contests), success at warrior activities (ie sports), and paternal/social lineage (old money, land ownership, wealth). -- And not from using one's brain with skills that are hard to understand, to produce tools (ie: technology) for other people's use. (That was sarcasm).

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

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.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

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.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

The Italian, German and Irish folks who were here after WW2 probably resented the hippies and gays just like you resent tech and finance workers.

Such narrow-mindedness is part of what SF is - odd considering how tolerant it claims to be.

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

there have always been Irish, Italian, and German working class gays. And hippes. In fact, Germany basically invented hippes.

Posted by admin on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

And certainly not just because your time has past.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

Marke's time is now. You're the one who's time has passed, but are dense to grasp that. You would have lived most comfortably in another part of the world in the 1930-40s.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:05 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

Yes sure you are. Denial is your mode of operation.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

or whined about how expensive it is.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

I'm in the same boat, an SV tech employee who loves this city and considers himself pretty far left (also a much bigger fan of Avalos and Campos than Weiner...). I realized when I graduated a couple years ago that many of us won't get to do what we love and still make a living.

I've certainly been angry about this, frequently confronted with agression from people for where I work. Lately, though, I've begun to lament this as a missed opportunity--most of my friends from work are progressive and feel the need to give back to the city. I see this as an enormous opportunity lost. Many of us have skills that could be useful in political organization/information dissemination.

I think it would be easy to bring most tech workers into the fold. Remind those who don't readily get it why they love being here, and not some place like Atherton. Get them working with you in the fight. I think the shuttles are a red herring, and that--hands down--the primary issue here is affordable housing; what little we have rewards duration of stay rather than need/income/family size. I think we need more housing, and a LOT more BMR.

I think this requires some grace on the left, and a focus on the real problem. Most of the young people you see in those shuttles are making less than the SF median income, and could be great allies in the fight to ensure a class-diverse and progressive future.

Also, amazing if you're still with me :-) but I think it's important to note that yelling and screaming about the shuttles is not just a waste of time, but actually hurts us in an immediate sense, providing a distraction from real debates with lasting impacts (TIC conversion, diversion or delay of affordable unit construction, free muni for kids, etc). It's almost as though this hatred were constructed by developers to divert our attention...

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

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