The Bold Italic Takes a Quick Break From Stereotyping Everyone to Ask Others to Stop Stereotyping Techies

The Bold Italic has built an empire lost their parent company Gannett Company, Inc. millions of dollars by pushing borderline racist listicles and backstories exploring our city's most tired stereotypes.  Now, their completely oblivious editor “producer” Jennifer Maerz has had it up to here with commonfolk stereotyping poor techies, goshdarnit!

According to Maerz, techies The Bold Italic's primary customers aren't making assault weapons (true!, kinda) and not every techie is a yuppie satan-spawn that would have been a Manhattanite financier if born a generation ago (true!, obviously), so let's cut them some slack and save our stereotypin' energy for Chinese people and everyone else in the city, okay?

She explains why you should get with the brogram:

I don't blame an entire industry (and every single person who works within it) for a city growing expensive, and I'm getting tired of hearing complaints from friends and strangers who make mass generalizations about people they likely have never met or worked with. I know we've done our own stereotyping on TBI of tech folks too, but our writers have approached the topic as parodies. It's hard watching the very serious hatred for people who have tech jobs grow stronger in posts and forums. It's not like these folks are making assault weapons for a living. Most of my friends who work in startups are helping build information systems that benefit universities, organize and label your iTunes music collections, and help get the bands you want to see to your city. You can't lump all tech work, or people using the medium to push out new ideas, as evil.

We completely agree.  Wholesale dismissal of people based on what employee badge they carry is a real poor idea.  And we know plenty of people who ride the shuttles and are perfectly bearable humans.  But the idea that the industry's occasional nobleness and lack of complete sameness makes it somehow off-limits to criticize its rampant racism, gender inequality and sexism, insularity and cronyism—never mind the widening inequality and and Republican tax policies it promotes—is completely baffling.

(Besides, should we not criticize bankers despite the fact their industry is by and large corrupt?)

Anyway, if the brogrammer apologists at The Bold Italic really want to stop techie stereotyping, maybe they should start with themselves?

Comments (39)

well said. good job. seriously.

but stereotypes are fun and easy. plus they make me feel better about myself.

Bravo. Good friggin’ analysis.

She writes, “As the Bay Guardian also shared, evictions in this city are up. But I wonder what are these “tech people” supposed to do? Not live in San Francisco?”
What are they supposed to do? How about not offer landlords hundreds of dollars more on rentals that jack the prices up ridiculously? How about researching a home to make sure it wasnt an Ellis eviction before purchasing it? How about not over bidding by 50K on homes? How about asking their supervisors to support the TIC legislation? There is a lot that they can do.

Why worry about the consequences of your actions when the consequences don’t affect you or anyone you know?

There are also consequences to not having a plan for the future.

Yeah, they owe it to everyone who lives here because we were here first. What gives them the audacity to think that just because they studied hard and found a career that pays well they can just move on into the area and push people out by paying the market rate for rent.

Or they can cut the commute time and live in Palo Alto, which has hip trendy bullshit just like here, or to Santa Clara, etc. There’s no law saying you have to live in SF to work in Santa Clara County.

I’m a tech worker, but I work in San Francisco. Does that mean I get to stay here?

no.. get the fuck out.. no really.. your dot com sucks and makes no money.. but you make rent higher.. go back to the midwest

Not all tech workers are “dot com” workers. Most big companies have an IT department. Adobe has offices here. Etcetera, etcetera…

So…not live in San Francisco?

pretty damn good post. According to generalizations that I may have made in the past, you are calling out “peers” on
tired bullshit.
I think the coming bust and depression may make Kevin into a real journalist. I hope so.
I think the coming bust and depression will leave people at bold italic completely adrift and confused, and ready to latch
onto any ‘leader’ they can….with the usual disastrous results.
One thing though, I hear all my working class/old middle class left friends bitch about the ‘techies’,
but it is really surface generalizing. All of us know, there are some amazing and engaged people
working in the industry. I met many at occupy. People in their 20’s that could eloquently and logically
lay out why aligning with the same old hierarchies was a dead end. Better to let occupy fizzle, and
create real bottom up mass organizing. That is going on to a certain extent in all large cities.
And I for one, will let any left young ‘techie’ speak before me. The idea of a new priveledged class of workers,
actually attacking the economics that put them in that position, having the knowledge that it is completely
temporary, and at such a young age, being able to examine and dissect, is a truly new thing, and worthy of
any work I can do helping ‘them’ organize, with ‘us’…..

Why do lefties in SF always talk about a coming bust and depression as if it’s a desirable solution? In such a scenario the poor will suffer the most.

It all sounds so bitter and dismal.

Probably because fighting the rich and powerful once they’re already oppressing you is nigh impossible. See: American history.

As a black, female software engineer working for a major tech company in Silicon Valley and living in San Francisco for almost a decade, I found this post quite…entertaining. I’ve spent months learning how I’ve been driving up prices, consuming San Francisco resources without giving back and trampling all over quaint San Francisco culture with my nouveau riche sensibilities. And now you tell me you don’t hate me because I’m a boring overpaid nerd - you hate me because I’m a racist, sexist brogrammer? The countless articles teling me to screw off back to the South Bay where I belong were actually rooted in your concerns about the social injustices in the industry? Here I was thinking it was all about $$$…I didn’t realize it was such a noble crusade.

You’re doing that too. Inequality and gentrification are not mutually exclusive.

Yeah, the but the point that this post seems to be making is that attempts to defend the technology industry are invalid because the industry itself is evil, as it actively promotes inequality and social injustice. Which to me sounds like BS. None of the bloggers and journalists who’ve been railing against the influx of tech people in SF have been doing so because they’re concerned with how racist or sexist the industry is. If so, then I’d be exempt from the tech hate that I’ve personally experienced, seeing as I don’t fit the brogrammer mold. In fact as a minority in the tech industry, I resent the use of this strawman to defend the anti-tech position; there are many reasons to hate the tech industry, many of them valid, but let’s not pretend any of this stems from concerns about minorities (or the lack thereof) in tech. Let’s just call a spade a spade shall we? This is about money, pure and simple. That it is pecuniary does not make this position less valid but we don’t need to dress it up in any moralistic tones either.

On another note„ one thing that always baffles me is how people seem to act like all these tech people just stumbled across their financial success. I can’t speak for the entire industry, but at least in the circles I’ve run in for the past near decade, nobody magically inherited a ton of cash. We’re not digging ditches (then again, how many people commenting on these blogs are?) but we are working hard - my partner and I work a minimum 12 hour day - not including the hours spent working at home and yes, on the cursed shuttles. This job didn’t just land in my lap either - I worked my ass off through college to get this job. And now you tell me that because I’m not an English major turned struggling writer I don’t deserve to have nice things? W/E

I am thankful for your success story. And of course, you deserve nice things. B

Yet, I think it too simplistic to make the binary choice its about money or nothing. Maybe when you were working so hard in college you missed out on some of the discussions that happened in English, philosophy and other “softer” liberal arts course about the societies.

Look, no one is going to say all (or even most) people employed in the tech industry are greedy, evil individuals set out to kill culture and price-out the working class. There are plenty of people in tech who are generous with their money, time, energy, and intellect. (I myself having been doing freelance web work to make rent for the last 5 years, so I've been around plenty of conscious + considerate people in the industry—along with lots of dicks, too).

But as someone who has always despised the greedy, riches-over-people in the world (be it Wall Street CEOs or corporations like Walmart), it's difficult to look at The Silicon Valley Tech Industry and not lump it into that category.  Sure, the industry started out with noble intentions, but that's not where it is now.  It's biggest political operative, Ron Conway, has his hands on dozens of SF-based firms and is a lifelong Republican who uses his influence to buy tax cuts for billion dollar companies at the city's expense (and The Shuttles are the gun that companies point at the head of City Hall, allowing Twitter and their ilk to credibly threaten to relocate to suburban towns if they don't get a pass on paying their fair share).  Now Zuckerberg, Facebook, Airbnb, and a hot mess of other company leaders are dumping money into supporting climate change deniers and Republicans just to push an industry-benefiting immigration policy?  Even the most socially-conscious, liberal executives are hypocrites when it comes to the bottom line.

While a lot of local criticism has narrowed on “gentrification” (which, as a previous commenter detailed, isn't without merit) and the aggrogance, there have been plenty that has talked about the industry's other negatives (for example, the “brogrammer” criticism wasn't born out of attacking douchebaggery in tech, but its sexism… and, again, let's not ignore the massive amount of ill will the Twitter Tax Break generated).  However, you insistence on linking it to money directly, rather than people's concern over driving out working class people, students, artists, and other creative class individuals, pretty much demonstrates the problem I outlined above—too many geeks see money as the goal, not community and the broader goals of a progressive society.

And if your basic argument is “I'm not a boring overpaid nerd, so the generalization isn't correct,” then it seems your major objection is people are lazy in their criticism by saying “techies are driving up rents” when they should be saying “many techies are driving up rents.”  Seems like a minor difference.

Ultimately, the industry is tainted, maturing into something ugly, and no one's personal story can redeem it.

(And I'm sorry you have to work 12 hours a day. It's unfortunate you are employed by people who think that's a stable, reasonable way to grind out one's youth.)

As a counterpoint, Zuckerberg’s political group is proving too conservative for its backers. Mark is still new to the Bay Area and it seems like he’s made some initial missteps.

I think the bigger issue though is that the tech industry is only portrayed as the “enemy” because it’s where the local money goes. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything inherent about the tech industry that makes it a poor citizen; if Sand Hill Road funded, say, furniture companies, wouldn’t the same arguments would be used against them?

I think it’s important to note that while two people have left (and good for them!), there are still dozens that haven’t. Their attrition rate is very low.

But I agree there is nothing inherently wrong with tech to make it a poor citizen (and its foundations reflect that), but it hasn’t manifested well (see previous comment on turning into the same conservative, pro-deregulation, anti-tax, pro-lobbyist industry like most others). Again, I don’t blame employees themselves for that (really), but so, so many of them defend it, claiming that because of tech’s scale and importance, this behavior is somehow excusable, it can make it hard not to put some blame on them too.

On another note, it’s funny watching Larry Page preach about deregulation lately, despite begging the government to regulate net neutrality. No irony there. Nope.

Thank you for the first civilized dialogue I have had about this topic in….ever? I think as we’re all coming into this conversation with our own personal biases, it’d be nigh impossible to come to any consensus but it’s worthwhile to hear the differing POV without sweeping generalizations and insults being hurled my way.

Ultimately, you could say I’m mostly taken aback at how much animosity there is in SF towards the tech industry; up until about a year ago, I was under the impression that the city/Bay area *liked* the tech industry, if only because having a thriving industry in close proximity contributes towards the local economy. For all the negatives of the tech affluence, it does mean local businesses can always count on customers.

I must say, it’s certainly a novel experience being on the “wrong” side of an Us vs Them debate…

would you like a badge because you work in online advertising?

she’s gotta check in first

Most people stereotype because they’re lazy. It’s far easier to look at the people surrounding the problem and make generalizations about them than it is to identify the root cause of the problem.

But in the case of The Bold Italic they’ve always been more about form than function, with drawings that obviously took longer to make than the articles took to write. You get the feeling they could just use lorem ipsum text and most of their “readers” wouldn’t even notice.

Just for some color, I think I’ll post how I ended up being a tech worker in a TIC unit in the mission, and here is the truth, not trying to be defensive. At the end of the day I’m just someone with a job and a family.

I’m a white male. I grew up in the exurbs of a city in flyover country. I went to college in Los Angeles and moved back to home afterward. I worked in tech in my hometown, but the best and most interesting jobs are in Silicon Valley, so after a time I knew I probably would end up in the bay area.

In 2006 I got a job at a large tech company in Silicon Valley. I relocated to the bay area, but like many people in my generation I really did not want to live in the suburbs anymore, and Silicon Valley did not seem nice at all. So my wife and I moved to San Francisco. We lived in the outer sunset for a while and I took the shuttle to work. My wife got a job in SFUSD, she is a teacher. Eventually we decided we wanted to move somewhere more central. I got a job downtown (still at a large tech company). We searched for rentals but could not find one that would take us and our three cats and fit in our budget. However, we did have a enough saved (yes, tech pays better than most jobs, but worse than the traditional professions like lawyers and doctors) to put 10% down on a TIC unit, which ended up being cheaper than renting and we were able to find a place in the mission we liked.

Today we have two kids, live in the mission and I commute via BART. My wife walks to work. I’m not sure about the policy or political implications, I just thought it would be nice for people to know a little about what some tech people are like. I’ve had a lot of privilege in my life, and I know that things that were open to me aren’t open to many people. I didn’t move to San Francisco because it was somewhere I really wanted to be, I just knew that I wanted to live in a city, not the suburbs. I prefer walking or transit to driving. In the bay area San Francisco is the best place to be, and in tech the bay area is the best place to find work. I’m not an artist. I don’t go to burning man and I would say I don’t participate all that much in the local community aside from shopping at the corner store, hanging out with our friends and neighbors and going to the museums and local kid activities.

That’s my confession. Doesn’t mean much, but there you go.

If only more people moving to San Francisco for tech work had your perspective …

Thanks for all the links KevMo. As a regular Uptown Almanac reader (and fan) I feel privileged to make it on the site. I also enjoy a good debate, so I’ll let all of you get into the mud slinging details and I’ll just clarify a couple facts for those getting into the conversation.

Although it may be more fun to link to the Chinese people on the bus story and call it racist, if you go through and actually read the story, you’ll discover it’s written by a Chinese-American woman about Chinese culture in SF and her own Chinese family. She’s an awesome writer, who has done pieces for The Moth and NPR, about Chinese culture. Not quite sure how it’s racist, but go at debating it however you like.

Not sure what the piece celebrating specific Berkeley icons has to do with the tech world, or stereotypes, but link to it however you see fit, as we appreciate the traffic there too.

Yes, the Bold Italic has run tech parodies. I pointed that out in my piece too. My issue is with the ranters who spew hatred for people who work in the tech field. Not the jokes, but the pure hate, saying shit like these people need to leave San Francisco, and other talk that’s borderline xenophobic.

Take the companies themselves to task for their policies and impact on the city where you see them doing wrong. I said that in my piece as well. I think that’s smart, and it’s different than trying to smash an entire industry of people based on what you think they eat, how they dress, how they get to work, and whatever else.

That’s all from my end. You guys can take the debate from here.

A few people touched on it above (and Kevin talked about people who wouldve been finance types back East)„ so I want to explore the notion that some of this resentment lies in the nature of these “tech” jobs. I imagine that “tech” as it was originally known felt like an industry that was enabling benedits to society.. Even if we can debate about specific contributions, the feeling was there. One could have assumed 30, 20, 10 years ago that a Moores Law concept applied to overall advancement might have opened up more than what we ended up using all of this for: social media. And, really, thats all the tech industry has become. Are all of the kids on these buses engineers from CalTech or English majors from Swarthmore? What is so techie about these jobs? Even most of the programmers or hardware people are only enabling photo sharing, advertising, and video consumption. So, in the end, the people who are angry a the rent raisers are likely just looking at a bunch of new age sellouts that have just jumped on the latest Wall Street revenue scheme. And, trust me, its a Wall Street revenue scheme. Selling advertising via facebook (or even Google, who will always have facebook in a gimpsuit) is about people buying shit, plain and simple. So if youre not on a Genetentech bus, you are just a cog in the wheel for selling the latest colored denim for American Eagle.

Johnny’s comment provides a good analysis.

The newest generation of functionaries for the profit seekers should save their money rather than spend it at the expensive restaurants and boutiques they like so much. Because the finance people are going to figure out soon that they get the same product from cheaper programming labor in India or China and replace much of the low/mid level workforce. And as is inevitable, Wall Street will crash the economy again, although this crash will occur before the real economy recovers from the last one.

Finally, for all their outrage at being targetted because of their contributions to gentrification, the techsters show little social awareness. Surely, some have strong social consciousness and contribute to the greater community, but for the most part, this new generation of the upwardly mobile equate eating at exclusively priced local (maybe even healthy) restaurants with community activism.

“Because the finance people are going to figure out soon that they get the same product from cheaper programming labor in India or China and replace much of the low/mid level workforce.”

Uh, they figured this out long ago my friend.

Fair enough. I still advise the techsters to be careful with their money. At the first slowdown, many will lose their jobs. I still have vivid memories of the exodus of new live/work owners back to their parents’ houses after the 2000-01 crash.

You’re a necessary voice, Kevin. Gracias

Maybe the problem with stereotyping techies is that because the industry has grown so much, particularly here, the portion of the population is too much to make any successful generalizations. Many techies ride bikes and also many techies drive cars, if you generalize either way you’re missing many techies. Even within these comments people are confused about whether techies are money obsessed (“too many geeks see money as the goal” -KevMo) or undervalue money (see asdfg’s comment).

So what kind of job would someone have to have in this city to not get shit on by all you guys?

Struggling non-profit employee. Dispensary or restaurant worker. Bartender. DJ. Un or under employed.

The key is not to challenge anyone’s fragile self-worth.

Way to completely miss the point

Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of BI’s singular focus.