August 3rd, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I encountered levels of homelessness and mental illness that I was entirely unprepared for, but was repeatedly discouraged from donating any spare change by my new American community. It’s not your problem, that was the mantra that un-ironically flowed from the lips of entrepreneurs that otherwise convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place, presumably for themselves and the people who were their problem. There was something absurd and almost obscene about watching the technocrats step over and around the homeless to get to jobs where they’re given free food and drink.
As a Swede coming to the States, I was disillusioned. I had, as I think many young entrepreneurs have, idolized Silicon Valley as a utopian vision of an idealistic but well-meaning band of technocrats building the foundations for a just and democratic society, but in its place I found vanity, pettiness and greed. Not only did the emperor have no clothes, but the naked corpus revealed was unappetizing to my Swedish quasi-socialist ideals. Ultimately, I felt alone in Silicon Valley… I left.
….But let’s be honest – Silicon Valley is often a parody of itself, and it has lost some of the things that made it great. Where Silicon Valley was once heavily subsidized to be a place of technical innovation, it is now an expensive but well-funded hub focused on business execution. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – good technology deserves good execution, and investors deserve to make money – but it is hard not to wonder what could have been. What if Silicon Valley stopped employing some of the world’s greatest minds to make us click ads, and instead served a higher calling?