On the “hacker hostels”July 6th, 2012 at 12:05 pm ET
From today’s Times, a story about group houses for transitory technology nerds in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Obviously group houses aren’t a new thing (Berkeley, Adams Morgan, Ditmas Park, etc., etc.), but I have to say that these group houses, with their bunk beds and drywall and cinderblock, their people coming and going, the fundamental selfishness of everyone working separately on their own projects, seem especially bleak.
At my last startup I lived on an inflatable mattress in the back of our office for more than a year, and many days I felt part of something big and energetic and communal, and on my most hopeful days I was proud of myself for the choices I’d made. But most of the time I just felt sad and trapped and poor and tapped-out, with all my hopes pinned on the possibility of a big score that I didn’t understand how to engineer or guarantee (and that ultimately didn’t come). And I was in New York City, a 2-minute walk from a panoramic East River view, 5 minutes from America’s most vibrant Chinatown, a 10-minute bus ride from the East Village! If I’d been on a random suburban street in smoggy Mountain View, on my very worst days I would have been suicidal.
Maybe it’s just the way the Times spun it, but the idea of these people as “aspiring tech entrepreneurs on the bottom rung of the Silicon Valley ladder, those who haven’t yet achieved Facebook-level riches” — as though the normal course of events were to achieve Facebook-level riches, as though most of these people would naturally achieve Facebook-level riches, as though “achieving Facebook-level riches” were a sensible goal to build one’s life around — leaves me feeling more than a little sad for them, like the down-and-out characters in a dystopian-near-future science fiction story. It’s not a patronizing sadness, it’s an empathetic sadness — I’ve been there or somewhere like it, it didn’t work for me, and it probably won’t work for you, either.ShareThis