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

Pub date May 10, 2013
WriterJohnny Koch
SectionPolitics Blog

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.