These four paragraphs from the representative libertarian loon on a Seattle Tech Startups mail list I follow represent about the most perfect example of projection I’ve seen. It belched forth on a thread regarding some WSJ editorial written by a Seattle tech bro who has decided to pack up his startup and move to Texas.
I could ask where Seattle went wrong, but I am starting to think it was never right to begin with.
This city has some of the least sunlight in the country and it manifests in the region’s collective personality. Low vitamin D levels result in endemic chronic SAD and other psychiatric issues, which in turn lead to the infamous passive aggression and bizarre, competitive, performative pseudointellectualism (as anyone who has read a few local OK Cupid profiles can attest). Anywhere else, these weirdos might be regarded as a mere curiosity, but somehow the inmates have taken over the asylum in Seattle and their influence reflects in our knuckleheaded city council and corresponding public policy.
But it goes beyond that. All the major tech centers suffer from this problem to some degree - not least because dense, urban living has a deleterious effect on personality and constitution, leaving one neurotic and servile - which means that the cultural and psychological tics that are leaving their mark on policy are also affecting technology itself. I’ve been in software design for two decades now, and I can actually see the state of design going backwards , not forwards. Users are given less control over their software, and even hardware. The same infantilized mentality that leads people to want more nanny-state regulations leads to a willingness to cede personal agency to a piece of technology made by a callow, banana-headed techbro… one who seems to support regulating every business except large tech platforms.
Technology sits downstream of culture, however, like water, it ultimately finds its way back to the river’s source. We’re looking at a very dangerous feedback loop that is already turning the tech industry into a big fat target for regulators. Seattle sits at one of the inflection points of this process. Its dysfunctional culture is absolutely a key factor in the state of the industry. The only question is, what is anyone going to do about it, besides leave?
Performative pseudointellectualism indeed!