I recently found a story in the New York Times, titled “Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem.” This particular passage set me off:
“A few weeks ago, a programmer friend and I were talking about unhappiness, in particular the kind of unhappiness that arises when you are 21 and lavishly educated with the world at your feet. In the valley, it’s generally brought on by one of two causes: coming to the realization either that your start-up is completely trivial or that there are people your own age so knowledgeable and skilled that you may never catch up.””
Even though the fear of failure is perfectly distinct, I’d like to look more at the first point: what does it mean for a start-up to be “completely trivial”? Though you or I might argue that any start-up without a means to implement true social change, or one that offers only “more pat solutions to serious problems”, this author’s generation would argue that a start-up’s “non-triviality” is based on financial success, not social. Tech is no longer primarily technology driven;” writes the author, “it is idea driven.” Yet in this landscape, companies like Tinder, Facebook, and Twitter (who are “driven” by ideas that don’t associate with social change very often) reign over all.
Maybe this is just a matter of opinion, but I think that MOST TECH COMPANIES DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING IMPORTANT. The young engineers who go to work at Google will never save anyone’s life, will never help to combat the status quo, will never encourage a critical lens in their users. As life becomes more convenient, resistance becomes less important.
“No doubt, Facebook has changed the world. Facebook has made it easier to communicate, participate, pontificate, track down new contacts and vet romantic prospects.” Is this what “changing the world” means to our generation?