Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
This Is Your Life in Silicon Valley (medium.com)
480 points by jaytaylor on Aug 16, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments

You guys take yourselves too seriously. I think this article is funny as hell.

"You briefly use mobile Safari to browse for Vipassana retreats — you hear a 10 day retreat in Soquel may be the ticket to shake things up. You realize it’s not going to be possible. You download a meditation app. You turn it off. You don’t have time."


The fact that a lot of posters here don't even realize it is satire speaks more to the point than anything.

"You skim the HN comments about life in the valley. You haven't bothered to read the article so you do not realize it's a satire. You decide to comment anyway."

"Six minutes of continuously refreshing the page later, you get a reply from a throwaway account calling you out for not even skimming the article. You contemplate deleting your comment but decide that would look even worse. You then wonder why you don't set up a throwaway account of your own for your less thought out comments."

"You re-open the article and confirm that the string 'HN comments' in fact does not appear in the article you skimmed."


"You are now faced with a risky decision. If you can't beat the feeling of having been meta-duped, turn to page 4. To try your luck, and put your reputation on the table, turn to the next page..."

Well, satire like Kafka is satire.

Very surprised to not see any jabs at Burning Man, or waiting in line for brunch.

I don't really know about brunch, although I guess there's something about waiting the better part of an hour to eat that makes it attractive to hipsters because I sure have seen them do it a lot.

But my guess is that Burning Man is rather passé, and has been roughly since people who hadn't been there started hearing about it in large numbers.

Burning Man is your equivalent of Glastonbury. Used to be cool years ago, but now its just for posh kids to say they have been.

You know this because you've been?

What does "cool" mean to you?

Waiting around to eat provides more time to see and be seen at trendy joints.

Would have been great if it ended with something like:

Your friend emails you a satire on Bay Area life. It isn't perfectly written, and it surely doesn't fit your life, but it fits so many of your friends' lives. You continue to read it anyway. Something about it bothers you, but you post it to Facebook, because you're sure that it will get many likes. Your friends love reading satires about their lives.

I used to work for a non-US company's US Bay Area office during the dot com boom. I recognize a lot of this, especially the parts about our own company. And about myself and my coworkers at the time - worrying a lot about status and superficial issues, a lot more than about our product and what we were actually doing there (nobody really had a clue). That startup didn't even tank but was sold for a few hundred million - because the "market" carried us and at least some people, especially the developers, did some work, and because the Dilbert world is everywhere.

The good thing: I learned that there is no magic in either SV and/or venture capital, they muddle through like everybody else. I learned that I suck at anything "business" (I'm a good techie and communicator, that must suffice).

I also learned that while an American business may be really horrible in many of the details - but on the executive level I experienced (as a techie "guest listener") that when it comes down to business the 0.1% they get right blows most everybody else out of the water. It was so embarrassing for my own executives. At those high-level meetings I gained a huge respect for some of the guys at the top of American firms. It seems they figured out what's important and what is only "nice to have" and concentrate on the former. They also managed to ask exactly the right questions - we didn't have an answer for a single one of them. But we still felt very, very important...

It's not just Silicon Valley though. I remember that my 2nd job after university was with that (foreign) startup (at first in their country). The very first conversation getting a coffee in the kitchen when I came in Monday morning for my first day was a guy heavily complaining about perceived injustices and "office politics": Will I get the (big) office I deserve? I should get the group leader position, that other guy is a leader then so should I be, etc. It was all about status. My 1st job had been with a major multinational company, and while politics certainly existed it wasn't that... childish. Most of the time we thought about and cared about what we were doing, not about status. That's a side effect of joining a huge organization where there isn't nearly as much dynamics, so much less fear of missing out on opportunities of quick advancement. In that startup you have people go from barely-graduated to department head in a very short time (and this was a several hundred people "startup" by that time becoming a "leader" wasn't just an empty title on business cards). Personal connections to the founders mattered a lot!

I think there's a lesson in this. High growth and opportunity for advancing quickly can be quite dangerous for what people are focused on.

For the last decade since I moved here, my life in silicon valley was more like: wake up without an alarm, brew a cup of dragon well tea, walk my dog, hit my gym for slow and steady progress, check email for crises, deal with anything other people care about, maybe go to the office. Have some lunch, write code until I'm tired, then maybe make an effort to socialize. As far as coal mining goes, these are sweet digs.

Great! I'm really glad to hear you've found a lifestyle that works well for you. Is it possible your experience isn't representative?

Likely not, but this portrayal in the article isn't close either. It only applies to 'hot startup' folks, which are a subset of startups, which are a tiny subset of employees here.

But, looking in from the outside, it's the subset which everyone not already in it appears to desire on some level to join.

Is it possible your experience isn't representative?

I'd say it is very probable. But I don't think that means the satire has no value.


well it's representative of my experience, so that is why I shared it ;) The hidden node here is that I took my first programming job in 1996 when I was 16 and I've been continuously programming since (also, I first learned on an atari 800 basic cartridge). I'm also 35, fit, disciplined and high energy. So for these factors, it's probably representative.

My life is similar: 6am wake up with my 2yo son. He wakes up early. Make coffee and breakfast for him and I. I do some emails and do some lightweight coding while we watch Masha and the Bear again.

At 9am I wake up my wife. She's in SF State getting her MBA. If its not a school day for her, I then go to the office and do a meeting or some more intensive coding, otherwise I'll go teach a spin class or lift weights and come home to hang out with my son and we go to the park or for a bike ride while my wife goes to class.

At night and on weekends I'll find myself sneaking in coding work, mostly to put the brain wheels at ease over whatever thing I'm working on.

We have a baby sitter one night a week when our schedules need it. We aren't a dual income family and I don't make a killing but my work is super flexible. We are barely comfortable and I have to teach spin classes on the side but my son and I have an amazing connection. I don't have much work life balance or separation but I think I prefer it that way.

Yep, I agree with this. I am a highly paid senior engineer at my current tech startup. I basically wake up at noon every day, on some days I pop into the office for a couple hours, but most days I just chill at home, go to the gym, hang out with my dog, take vacations. I basically check emails when I'm having my coffee in the morning but that's pretty much it as far as work.

I've been enjoying this lifestyle for 12 years with no end in sight. Living in Silicon Valley is the greatest thing I have ever done and is absolutely nothing like this article claims.

Great read, not just for people from Silicon Valley. It's good to put things into perspective.

It also reminds me of an article [1] about John Carmack and his choice of Dallas. To quote,

> “A lot of people, especially from California, say, ‘Texas? Why the hell are you in Texas?’ But I am generally happy to wave the flag and say, ‘No, I am not here under duress.’ I actually like it here. And we appreciate the sense of the Southern hospitality. You don’t get the sense that everyone needs to be coddled and taken care of. You get the sense of gumption.”

I have since fell in love with that word, "gumption". It's something you don't see in companies where people are being treated as kids and catered to with little superficial perks. But it's what get shit done.

I hope tech "visionaries" don't decide to adopt it and make it a new buzzword, however.

[1] http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-ceo/2015/september/v..., discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10136565

"southern hospitality" is great if you're straight and white. as a counterpoint, Dallas is the only place I've lived where people have shouted homophobic slurs at me on the street in daylight.

I'm openly trans, I didn't pass until a few months after I went full-time (and even now I pass only 90% of the time; I've been clocked by other queer people), and I've lived in Dallas all my life. I've never had anyone shout anything homophobic or transphobic at me on the street.

Mind you, I live and work in the suburbs, so I'm not on the street very often, but I used to work downtown and the only harassment I got was from panhandlers. They got really angry whenever I'd say I don't carry cash, and a few got up in my face while I was eating in a restaurant and demanded my food, but they never said anything about my orientation or my gender. Hell, I still go partying in Deep Ellum on occasion, and nobody's ever said anything to me there.

On the other hand, when I visited NYC last year, some guy shouted "FAGGOT!" in my ear as I was crossing the street into Times Square.

Well, at least he's probably not from NYC if you were in Times Square.

But sorry, anyway.

Coming soon: The TechCrunch Gumption Awards™ 2017.

In seriousness though, it seems like Carmack hasn't been kicking ass like he used to, though it is probably just a lack of visibility. Didn't he start on rocketry too at some point?

I think it's lack of visibility combined with the fact that there's not much more to innovate by sheer force of will in the game graphics world anymore. The industry has matured, so now it's all about scaling a team and being within budget and whatnot rather than two guys bringing their vision to the world in 2 months. When you see a history of success in independent games recently, it's invariably because of a fresh idea rather than some unseen technological innovation.

He's still doing a lot in bringing Oculus' software to maturity, and to helping the industry in general. He had some role - both technical and logistical - in bringing Minecraft VR released just recently.

I think he retired from rocket science.

> It's good to put things into perspective.

A bunch of made up bullshit, no matter how entertaining, is NOT putting things into perspective. Oh, the irony.

If people relate to it, yes, it would put things into perspective. Just because something is "made up" does not mean it cannot be influential or give someone perspective. A lot of the fiction I read is more insightful than a history book.

I disagree. When one can find parallels to their own life in a tale (even if fictional), it can start a more comprehensive look at the overall system of values one employs, or how one uses their time.

Silicon Valley was once just hills and vegetation, and then some people arrived and started making shit up. Silicon Valley is made up Bullshit. We just made it up.

How do we get perspective on all this billshit people made up?

With more made up bullshit, of course.

I assume he's in Menlo Park now at Oculus. I wonder if he still feels the same way.

His quote is exactly in response to that. He is not moving there. People act surprised when he says that, so that is his reasoning: he prefers the culture of Texas/Dallas.

He still lives in Dallas. Which by the way is a far better option than Austin if you were to move to Texas.

Could you explain why? I was always told Austin is the fun, SXSW college town and Dallas is a nice big city but boring.

Coming from my friends who are from Dallas and went to Univerity of Texas.

Because the hipster pretentiousness of Austin is annoying. I'm reminded of this article: http://www.vice.com/read/reasons-why-austin-is-the-worst-pla...

The first point is the most salient:

> But you’re not keeping Austin weird. You’re engaging in this fake, utterly distasteful blend of irony and feigned enthusiasm that will eventually cause the city to self-implode under the density of its own facetiousness. Soon you won’t be able to identify a single genuine emotion within its borders. You don’t actually care about whiskey-infused bacon. You don’t give a shit about whiskey-infused bacon. You’re pretending to, because that’s what keeps the whole city from feeling like a big lie.

Also, the smugness of a good chunk of Austin's citizens is unbearable. See, this guy: https://np.reddit.com/r/Austin/comments/4ts7mt/hawaiian_fall...

I don't really want to live in a city like that. Honestly, I enjoy living in a safe, quiet suburb with a low cost of living. I have that in Dallas.

And, hey, you know what else we have here? Ethnic food, of every kind. There's at least one good pho joint in every shopping center. We have an amazing Chinatown with some incredibly good Sichuan restaurants, Cantonese barbecue places, and more. We have multiple great Koreatowns. We've got a section of town filled with Ethiopian places. We've got all the ethnic food diversity of a coastal big city, married to the low-key, low-cost lifestyle of the suburbs. I love it here.

Most people don't want to admit that the suburbs are underrated. Bland compared to city life? Possibly. But the quality of life is definitely there.

My anecdote as a Dallas resident: Your description is correct. I visit Austin often. I personally want separation between what Austin offers and where I live. Dallas is boring and clean, an important aspect when comparing to living in inner-Austin. Granted many do not live in Dallas city proper and the northern suburbanization that has been occurring for many years in Dallas has/is occurring in Austin and were you blindfolded and dropped onto a northern tollway loop outside of either city you would not be able to distinguish the two.

From Austin, living in NYC, and I feel like Austin is boring and clean now.

This article is far too on-the-nose for my taste. As an exaggerated critique of Silicon Valley, I much rather enjoyed Anna Wiener's "Uncanny Valley".

Article: https://nplusonemag.com/issue-25/on-the-fringe/uncanny-valle...

Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11565691

Uncanny Valley used specifics to satirical and humorous effect, whereas this post just deployed brand names every 10 words. I was really bored.

This article seems too far removed though. It's hard to relate to much in it.

Reading this was an interesting anthropological experience to me as the lifestyle is so different from my own though it seems the underlying long-term goals are similar to mine (wealth, meaning, having smart and interesting friends and acquaintances). I too live in SV, but in a modest home I own in the East Bay. I too commute a little less than an hour to work, but I do my own grocery shopping and I don't care for nice restaurants, fancy cars or the latest gadgets. I still drive my 08 Prius.

I have a fair amount of stock options I've collected from 3 different mid-size companies over the last half decade; all are still in business but none are showing extremely promising outlooks, so I no longer count stock options in my long-term financial planning though it would be a welcomed bonus to my plans. Instead, I count the value of $5000/month left over from my decently high salary minus my non-materialist lifestyle invested in index funds to achieve financial independence the old fashioned way. Somewhat anti-Silicon Valley philosophy? Perhaps, but the Bay Area is all testing diverse ideas and out of the box approaches to life satisfaction. I don't claim my life is superior to the theoretical in this article, but it is much simpler and probably lower stress, and I'm pretty happy on a day to day basis so I'm not yet tempted to dive in to the alternate approach.

Most people would consider $60k/year in discretionary income a little more than "decently high".

Of course, discretionary income and salary are not the same thing. If you are a developer in the valley paying to live in Palo Alto, driving a BMW, etc. you too could choose to have a lot more discretionary income.

$60k is more than 88% of Americans make in total income. Having that for discretionary spending would place you well within the top 1-2% of Americans, regardless of how much or how little your living expenses are.

The top 1% of earners make $450k/year [1].

Although they obviously spend a lot [2], at some point discretionary income gets pretty blurry. I'd hope any reasonable society would consider they have a lot more than $60k at their discretion, though. I make about a third of that, putting me just barely in the top 10%, and have more than $60k at my discretion.

Wealth inequality is pretty insane in this country.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/income-rank/

[2] https://douggollan.com/2015/05/02/how-do-the-super-rich-spen...

The calculator you linked is measuring household income, not individual income. Rerunning your numbers with a calculator that uses individual income [1], I find that the top 1% of individual earners make at least $270k/year and an income of $150k/year would put you just barely in the top 5% of individual earners.

[1] https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-calculator/

Sure, you're right about the average American. I'm pretty sure most people in this discussion are taking about the perspective of someone who works in the tech industry in the bay area since that's what the article is about.

Right. Talking about that kind of money as merely "decently high" is only a slightly different kind of bubble as the one this medium post is satirizing.

Living expenses make up the majority of most people's living expenses, and this person owns the house they live in, which means it's possible their expenses aren't that high to begin with. They imply as much in their post. So it's possible their salary is like $70-75k.

The median salary in the US is $52k.

In light of that, I, too, would call his salary "decently high".

> Living expenses make up the majority of most people's living expenses

True, true.

$52,000 is the median household income, not median salary.

For reference, "median net compensation" appears to be just shy of $30,000 (if it's safe to extrapolate from 2014). https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/central.html

> owns

It is customary to say you "own" a home you're paying a mortgage on, whether or not you have meaningful equity in it yet.

Yes, rents are part of the price of the ticket to work in SV, and as such does not constitute discretionary income. The extra cash you spend to drive a BMW instead of a five year old Nissan definitely most certainly does.

Yes, but even how much you pay for rent can be controlled, if you choose to.

You can easily find a room in an apartment for less than 1000 $/mo anywhere in the bay. It won't be a nice room if you choose to live in, say SoMa, but it's housing. So you could argue anything over that is "discretionary".

Obviously, many people would consider such a living situation unacceptable. But in the most general sense, it is still a choice.

There is a huge difference in rent between the different parts of SV. You have to pay rent, but it doesn't have to be Palo Alto rent.

That's true -- according to Trulia, the median rent right now in Palo Alto is $6100 vs. $3495 in San Jose. But I think it's kind of easy, living here, to lose sight of just how out of whack those costs are with the rest of the country. In Tampa, Florida (which is actually pretty close to the US average), it's $1495; even in Sacramento, about two hours from here, it's $1600. If you could stand the time sink, it's quite likely it would be cheaper to live in Sacramento and commute to the Bay Area.

None of this means that there aren't valid reasons for staying here; even giving up a fairly significant portion of my income as rent leaves me with more money than I'd likely have after rent if I had a comparable job in Tampa, assuming I could even find one. But I don't think this is a sustainable situation for the region. The nanny in the "This is your life in SV" satire, and other people in her salary range (or under it), are on the cusp of being pushed out of the area entirely.

I'm saying "decently high" compared to my software engineering peers in Silicon Valley. Of course, nearly every worker in the US has at least a decently high income compared to most of the world. The minimum wage in India is $3 per day.

You do not live in SV. You live in the East Bay.

I spend most of my waking hours in Palo Alto. Unless of course you don't consider time at work "living", in which case I hope your plan is to retire ASAP so you can finally have a life.

Cut all the prices in half and replace startup stupidity with enterprises-trying-to-act-like-startups stupidity and you have most people's lives outside of Silicon Valley. Not to make it generational but this feels like how most people my age live anywhere.

Nannys? Going to fancy restaurants hoping to see venture capitalists?

Most people your age do not by any means conduct themselves like this, nor could they if they wanted to. Their "nanny" is their sister or mother or mother in law or a neighbor.

They don't go to a fancy restaurant because they don't have the money for both the fancy restaurant and a baby-sitter.

They're a two income-family forever, not until stock options vest and can be sold on secondary markets to speculators with easy capital.

This whole scenario is ridiculous and not at all representative of anything but a very small demographic. But I guess that's the Valley, at least to this outsider reading articles like this.

Let me put it this way: I have lived in Silicon Valley my entire life (and I'm not that young), and the only person I've ever met who was raised by a nanny was a rich kid who went to my high school. I've never met anyone who hired a nanny, except that kid's parents. But maybe that's because I don't live in Atherton.

And let me put it this way: Every working couple except for one that I know with a kid has hired a nanny for at least some portion of the time, including myself.

A nanny is not a part-time worker. That is a babysitter. A nanny lives with the family.

Is it in the US ?

In the UK to be a nanny, childminder or work in a nursery you have specific regulation and qualification required. A babysitter requires nothing, it can and generally is some teenage kid.

The difference with all 3 is where the child go. Nursery has special dedicated facilities to take care of several children, number limited by the number of employee and size. A childminder will take care of 1 to 3 children in her own home. A nanny will come to your home and take care of 1 to 3 of your children.

All 3 are available in full-time ( i.e. working hour full time ) or part-time.

The movie type, stay at home Nannies are "Au Pair". Depending on the qualification ( from foreign student doing a bit of cleaning and getting the kid to and from school to fully qualified nanny ) the price varies enormously. Au Pair is not unusual, Au Pair Nannies is rich people stuff.

"Au Pair" means "on par" meaning living as part of the family. As such, au pairs get house and board and a small amount of pocket money, but no salary as such. They also don't have clear-cut work duties, they help around a house, as a member of the family would be expected to do, cooking, cleaning, washing etc. As a parent, you're generally not supposed to leave the au pair in sole charge of the children for more than brief periods of time (as you would a babysitter). That's the general theory, of course, individual arrangements range widely.

A nanny is a professional employee of the family, generally has training and certification, has clear duties and makes an actual salary. An "au pair nanny" is an oxymoron, that would be a "live in nanny" and, yes, definitely rich people stuff. Au pairs are definitely possibilities for the middle class.

Again UK-specific: They only _need_ qualifications to register with OFSTED, and as a parent, it's up to you whether you require your childcare to be registered. If you leave your kids with a friend, for example, your friend doesn't need any kind of qualifications. However, you can only get Government subsidies (like child tax credits and childcare vouchers) for a registered childcare provider.

Technically, the requirements are a little stricter: "You must register with Ofsted or a childminder agency if you want to be paid to look after children under 8 for more than 2 hours a day in England"[1]

In the example of leaving your children with a friend, the exemption is for a maximum of 3 hours (per day), if the friend is being paid. Any longer and the friend is obliged to register with Ofsted (with a penalty of an unlimited fine and/or jail for not being registered).

I doubt many people would think to check the legal requirements though.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/register-childminder-childcare-provider/o...

Blimey - I didn't realise that, and I will continue to completely ignore it as it's ridiculous.

Here in Spain I know a family that hired a young girl "au pair" (in their case a Polish girl who wanted to learn Spanish). The father told me they paid her about 400 euros/month + food and accommodation, so it's not something prohibitively expensive.

Given that is half of the salary of many people in the peninsula and above the Portuguese minimum wage, it looks expensive to me.

I mean, that only medium level and upper classes can afford it.

To use your numbers, a person would have to make less than $11,000 a year for that salary to be half their income. I doubt there are many people reading this discussion in that income bracket.

There are many things in life that aren't feasible if you are at the poverty line: Apple laptops, electric vehicles, extended vacations, etc. I would argue that the only difference here is that many people are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of paying someone to take care of their children in the home.

I am living abroad, and I will let countrymen/women correct me, but in Portugal you can hardly aspire to earn more than 1500 euros before taxes, in the best companies.

Most of them pay less than that.

So a university degree will land you around 1000 euros, a bit more if you are doing lots of overtime.

Renting a flat will always be above 300 euros, or 500 in the biggest cities.

So unless one if living with a significant other, and reserve one salary for such expenses, they aren't possible at all.

In Spain the salary level on average is around 25% more than on Portugal, but given the actual situation the real numbers on the bank account aren't that much different.

And I am writing about people with degrees, let alone those that only learned their profession hands on the job.

you are correct.

> To use your numbers, a person would have to make less than $11,000 a year for that salary to be half their income.

400 euro a month plus food and accommodations is a lot more than $5,500/yr.

I think you ignored the "plus food and accommodations" part.

A nanny doesn't necessarily live with the family, but the 'primary care setting' (i.e. where they take care of the children most of the time) is the child's home. They can also be part-time.

The key difference is that a nanny is usually a formal salaried employee with regular contracted hours, whereas a babysitter is typically paid an hourly rate and is self-employed.


False. Wife was a nanny in college. Never lived with anyone. At least in the US nanny means long term babysitter with more steady hours.

In the US in the 21st century vernacular (at least in NYC and Bay Area), nanny means child care provider with fairly regular hours, taking care of a smallish number of children (1-5ish).

The phrase "nanny share" is very commonly used. Sometimes the nanny is in their own home, sometimes in [one of] the parents' home.

Babysitter generally means someone who comes occasionally to watch a single family's children.

There are obviously fuzzy lines separating the two terms.

By portion of the time, I meant a full-time nanny working for many months or years, and eventually sending the child to daycare or school.

Nanny != babysitter

I'm raising a kid in SF. Many people have nannies. Go to any major playground in the city during the work day and you will see nannies. Sometimes on weekends too.

> I've never met anyone who hired a nanny

I doubt you know that.

Also make your logo have your name in all lower case now. It's hip

Man, stuff like this makes me wonder what my life will even be like when I graduate.

Went here because dude, Silicon Valley! Then ended up spending a year depressed and just burning out on the whole thing because as it turns out changing your entire life down to the language you speak doesn't really remove the fact that you're a huge introvert and procrastinator.

Lot of world outside SV

This is so sad, especially the part in the beginning about hiring a nanny to watch their kids as they grow up. You can't get those memories and time back.

But hey, you have a WiFi coffee maker and Roomba.

What's with the current cultural obsession with spending every single moment with ones children? How can this possibly be healthy for the children (never mind the parents)?

I was going to make a comment along the lines you have here, but I held off because I think you are mistaking his argument. He just is talking about the memories and time you, the parent, can't get back, not any deleterious effects on the child. You're right that people in general way overrate the importance of high interaction parenting on a child's development, but I don't think you're right if you're saying the parents don't enjoy it and won't be glad they did it later.

What's wrong with having memories and time that have nothing to do with child raising? Having a balance between child raising activities and non-child raising activities?

Some people want to work outside the home.

You aren't handing off your children to a stranger never to see them again.

I went to a babysitter during the workday for a few years. I bonded with her very strongly and it was nothing but a positive experience.

We send our daughter to daycare [1] and I spend every minute I can outside of work bonding with her. There is some truth to it, they only stay babies so long and parents should enjoy it. Spending time with them is one of the magical things that makes it worth it. Without that, what's the point?

[1] No nanny for us... I'm a CTO in a duel-income house and I can't afford that no idea how this character would.

Per your footnote, in SV professional households, combined salaries north of $300k/year are not uncommon. A nanny costing $40k to $50k is not trivial, but it's manageable.

In fact, a nanny is generally cheaper than sending two children to daycare. (point of reference: the closest daycare to me charges $30k/year)

The median household income for SF is $83k a year. I wouldn't say that $300k /year is common.


I'm referring to common in professional circles; professionals already represent a small number of people. SF has high income inequality, so median says little about what the top 20% actually make.

See details here: http://www.city-data.com/income/income-San-Francisco-Califor...

Note that for 2 earner households, median income soars to $131k/year.

31% of married households pull over $200k, which is the highest tier the data has.

My wife and I made a decision not to move to SV because we figured the boost in salary wouldn't justify the higher cost of living (I'm in the greater Boston area). But based on this statement I'm not sure I made the right call. My wife and I make barely more than half that even though I'm senior and she has a master's degree in engineering.

But per your point of reference, daycare here "only" costs $18k a year.

I suspect moves to a lower COL generally only work if one of the following are true:

A. Your income is below X percentile in your current area. (not sure what X is. Maybe 75th?)

B. You value having a large home more than the average person in your current area.

There's also a shortage of professional daycare providers in the Bay Area.

Two of my co-workers hired a nanny because of the >1 year waitlists for infant daycare around here. It's really tough to find a daycare if you don't sign up in the first trimester.

> There's also a shortage of professional daycare providers in the Bay Area.

> Two of my co-workers hired a nanny because of the >1 year waitlists for infant daycare around here.

Given real estate costs in the Bay Area, I'm not surprised that the economics favor in-home nannies (where the day care facility is the home of the family receiving service) over day care centers, compared to areas with more affordable real estate.

Yup. Many day cares are also small 3 child ones run out of the providers' home.

I'm pretty sure that having both parents work and raising your child via nanny is the current obsession and having a stay at home parent was normal human operating behavior for ~200,000 years.

No, it's not the current obsession. The current cultural obsession is over-parenting and massive anxiety and guilt about not "spending enough time" with children no matter how much time is actually spent with children. The comment I replied to is reflective of the current cultural attitude that its "so sad" that kids get a break from their parents for 40 hours a week. Time spent on childcare has actually increased since the 1960s[1] which reflects the increased amount of emphasis on childrearing. There also seems to be little to no questioning of what is healthy for children and parents, it's just seen as "natural" and "obvious" and certainly ideal if possible.

The people with this "so sad... you can't get those memories back" attitude never explain why its ok for the working parent to miss out on "memories" while they are at work whereas its absolutely essential that the nonworking parent gets in the maximum amount of "memories" possible. Or why its ok to ever send a child to a public school because "memories" certainly happen during the school day and you're going to miss out! Or why its so terrible for children to bond to several caregivers rather than one or two?

[1] http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2007/DoParentsSpend...

>Time diaries indicate that married fathers spent an average 6.5 hours a week caring for their children in 2000, a 153 percent increase since 1965. Married mothers spent 12.9 hours, a 21 percent increase. Single mothers spent 11.8 hours, a 57 percent increase.

>These increases are powerful because the figures are for "primary care" where the child is the main focus of attention, not for time spent with the child while doing other things. Time-diary numbers, however, do not say whether mothers are as accessible to their children at home during as many hours as they were in the past.

> The current cultural obsession is over-parenting and massive anxiety and guilt about not "spending enough time" with children no matter how much time is actually spent with children.

More time spent with children != over-parenting. That's your own personal opinion.

The OP also was explicitly stating that they don't have time with their child and that they pay for a full time nanny (a situation not mentioned in your linked report).

Dual income households have indeed increased massively since the 1960s: http://www.pewresearch.org/ft_dual-income-households-1960-20...

The word "parenting" was coined in the 1950s.

Prior to modern times, groups of people (maybe related, maybe just neighbours) shared childrearing responsibilities. It's unlikely anybody was a dedicated caregiver in the same sense as modern parenting.

More often than not the mother was highly involved. Almost never was a nanny the primary caregiver.

Maybe for the lower classes, but the upper class has always had nannies raise their children.

Correct, but the OP was about middle class people where both parents work. That's new.

PG's article on this one was great.

You only get ~8 Christmases where the "magic" is still there for kids... from roughly 2-10 and then it's just another day of gifts and (potentially) envy.

I'm traveling a ton right now with an 18 month old and dying to get back there.

Edit: PG said it here: http://www.paulgraham.com/vb.html

Can you elaborate on the Christmas thing? I have a very different view than you on Christmas "magic" than you, I believe.

FYI this is satire. He doesn't live in Silicon Valley. Everything he is describing is a negative that he wants avoid by not moving. Its all bad -- not just the nanny bit.

Meh, not written by someone who lives here: "the 280"? Freeways don't get articles around here, bub.

Clearly a plant from the LA startup scene.

"The Noe" jumped out at me, too.

An exceedingly brief look at his other Medium posts finds a sentence stating that he was born in Santa Clara.

Good catch!

Puzzler: at what latitude does 101 become "Teh 101"?

The same latitude at which hipsters turn into douchebags.

Source: I lived in LA for nearly a decade.

Probably between Oxnard and Santa Barbara.

The screenshot of Excel '97 running in WINE is what makes the post great.

Looks like he really struck a nerve based on the comments.

Half of the comments are along the lines of, "yeah those guys, but not me, I bought muesli instead o artisinal cheese".

I wanted to say something to that effect, but you nailed it! I hope stating that isn't against the etiquette here.

Being nudged, even momentarily, from our delusion that none of us are all that special, will always hit a nerve. I think these things are healthy to reflect upon occasionally. Delusions are fine, to a point.

I really enjoyed this piece.

Is it possible to diagnose an entire geographic region with narcissistic personality disorder?

Diagnose? No, probably not. Finding another label for a group of people in the Valley you are already predispositioned to hate isn't insight. And limiting it to a geographic region with such flimsy cultural boundaries smacks of projection.

Want a bold stand? The (now defunct) blog The Last Psychiatrist spent years arguing that narcissism was society wide and generations deep.

see 75% of the posts, but maybe these in particular (?) http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/11/a_generational_pathol... http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2008/10/the_dumbest_generatio...

Unfortunately, it's spreading. You see a lot of this in London as well. I think of it as a learned narcissism with clustering behavior. I would argue you can see it across many groups although they differ in how it manifests - we notice the "hot-startup" narcissist because he/she is in our industry.

Social media certainly hasn't helped. It appeals to the worst in human behavior. Communication devoid of truth or nuance in exchange for the shallow and sadly addictive approval of strangers. It teaches us to play games in which we are rewarded for what we portray outwardly rather than to be introspective. It is unfortunate that this mindset has been brought into the workplace, but perhaps much sadder that it likely affects relationships (parenting in particular) as well.

American Psycho with smart phones and a family.

For awhile I've been thinking the previous generation's American Psycho finance robot is this analagous to generation's startup/VC ecosystem. Everyone's delusional and eccentric, some more than others.

The kids who used to go to wall street go to San Francisco now.

Silicon Valley didn't win, they were colonized.

Sounds like a horrible person living a horrible life in a way that will never affect me in any way. I'm okay with this.

Reading things like this makes me glad I've stayed in the Midwest.

Funny that this is still super relevant for the life in London, particularly in East London, where everyone you meet is working in or has started their own startup. I feel like "silicon valley" mentality has spread far beyond just the bay area these days.

I admire the fact that the author was able to add a humorous twist to almost every paragraph. However, to get the humor they indulge in a bit of exaggeration. That's fine, I have no problem with parody. I would find this style revolting if the article was longer, or if this was a book, but as a short blog post it reads fine.

I am curious if the emphasis on status symbols was meant to be so exaggerated? The first joke was funny, but there were several on the same theme. By the time he got home and was thinking about watching stuff on Netflix, only because other people were talking about it... by that point, either the joke is over-used, or if it's meant to represent "real life" then it is just sad.

Well written. I like the tone. I think it's a particular case of a global concern : what the purpose of life and how to live it well ? Even if i'm very different and put my efforts in other domains than "looking smart for other people". I'm asking myself similar questions: doubt about past choices, job, city, and so on.

At the point you get to 'self-actualization', you realize that it's best done by helping others get to that point. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a pyramid scheme.

>> "Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a pyramid scheme."

I don't think I've ever done a '+1' style comment on HN before but couldn't resist. I really love that idea.

I always liked jwz's take:

> But in 1999 I took my leave of that whole sick, navel-gazing mess we called the software industry. Now I'm in a more honest line of work: now I sell beer.

livin' the rat race one latte at a time

A lot of this can be applied to modern day middle class life in Stockholm, Sweden, too for example. I guess SV is a bit more extreme, but the same things are there: the lust for gadgets, using podcasts to find conversational topics with your friends, sharing half-read articles, the "perfectly Instagrammed life", and, perhaps most of all: "The reporters all share photos and videos of the homeless person, but no one talks to him."

I'm not sure how much of this is satire and how much is just jabs at the way things are. It reads a lot like "Cracking the Coding Career" or "The Lean Startup": a piece written for the older (35+) generation trying to understand this modern field that generates so much money. For instance, when you're working for a startup having kids is not an attractive option. Startup hours are nothing like a 9 to 5 and insanely risky. Not to mention the cost of living if you in the Silicon Valley area.

Why wouldn't the majority of your friends on Facebook share similar political views? That's surely a factor of why you are friends in the first place. You wouldn't share a political article to them with the intention of proving an argument. There isn't much debate to be had with them.

Why would you not use small apps that make small things convenient? This is brought to attention so often in the article but it's not even unique to Silicon Valley. It's common to a whole generation.

The constant use of social media also makes it painfully obvious that this article isn't following the life of an engineer.

Most of this probably is satire, but it seems in poor taste.

Most of my good friends, let alone Facebook friends do not share similar views. Some people are pro legalizing drugs, some are anti, some are more socialist whereas some are free marketeers, some are pro foreign intervention and some are isolationist. We don't spend most of our time talking politics and it just doesn't matter that much.

If you don't have any friends with different political views, this is an unlikely enough occurrence via chance that it seems like it's a deliberate choice, and that's not a choice that I have anything good to say about.

>> Why would you not use small apps that make small things convenient?

I think what it's getting at is the attitude of 'I'm willing to spend $20 on this simple thing I could do myself for free because my time is worth $x per hour so those 10 mins would really be a waste of $40. I think the point is, chill. Your time may be valuable but you don't need to earning every second you are awake.

Honestly, reading this reminds me of why I intend to never set foot in NorCal and why I'm glad to live in Texas.

Edit: and, to be honest, this isn't exclusive to NorCal: this also reminds me disturbingly of NYC culture, and I'll describe NYC as a place I like to visit but would never, ever want to live. I have no interest in coastal urbanite culture.

This is trying to be funny, but it's not that funny. For a bunch of different reasons. Unless you're an insider telling an inside joke, tech isn't funny, because there's too much to explain, and explanations kill jokes. For the same reason that Wallace Stegner said you can't right novels about Mormons (no one would get them), you can't really write satire about tech. So the author falls back on jokes about Roombahs. Ha! Also, tech workers are not so powerful that they deserve satire. A better attempt at making SV amusing is the book Chaos Monkeys. And a very good example of how to skewer an industry is American Psycho (book, not movie).

I remember reading about a third of "Portnoy's Complaint" and then closing the book and putting it aside forever when I realized that it was supposed to be comedy and not tragedy. Same thing happened with this article.

I've read the whole thing, it is tragic. Even more so in the context of modern technology's affect on sexuality.

Sounds more like my friends doing ibanking in NY than my friends doing startups in SF.

Yes, part of this definitely reminded me of my cousin in NYC. Her husband is some big shot at Goldman Sachs, and their toddlers are raised by a nanny and being pushed into elite schools (yes, as toddlers). Their attitude towards restaurants is basically the same, and her husband has a similar lack of time (he works all his waking hours on the weekdays... and then crashes on the weekend).

Oh, and the kicker: they shop for clothes for their kids exclusively on Amazon. How do they know the clothes will fit? They don't; they order the clothes in every single size Amazon has available. I don't know what they do with the stuff that's the wrong size.

I went to school in NYC and I always thought it takes a special kind of person to do finance. My friend's brother works from 9am until 7-8pm, sometimes more, everyday. Yet my friend is determined to follow in his footsteps. I can't imagine doing that.

Yep that's the zeitgeist.

I got chills after reading this article. OP has gathered his thoughts brilliantly in writing. Explaining each situation we face in our day to day life thoughtfully. Kudos.

This was an enjoyable read. I especially appreciate the ending. At first it had a somewhat dystopian feeling in the sense that the protagonist's tastes align with whatever's trending at the moment. He's smug and superior. But in the end it was the realization that he lives in a beautiful place and the awe at seeing the sun set that brought true comfort. Nothing else in his life really works, including the meditation app.

This article makes me wanna go back to working in a bar or something and just never come in contact with computers or tech people ever again.

Your 27-year-old CEO wants to make every enterprise company in the world switch to your product. He’s never worked for an enterprise company, or any other company at all.

Eloquent synopsis a certain well-funded, highly buzzed-about "disruptive" startup I know.

Perhaps its same back in silicon valley of india too.Life here comes with reduced perks from unlivable traffic to substandard infrastructures.But the story is same everywhere across the industry I believe given greatest advantage is being close to your loved ones.

It reminded me of "Chaos Monkeys" that I read recently.

Would u recommend it?

The book is frequently mentioned in HN comments. In general, it is well recommended even if not overwhelmingly.


This article is amazing. What a great way to start the day.

How timely. I just started reading Disrupted.

Sounds like a character straight from http://wumo.com/wumo webcomics

Which I could not recommend enough, I'm having wumo flashbacks all the time just as with obligatory XKCD.

bravo - tickling read!

Hmm. Okay.

My reaction exactly. I read through the entire article (inexplicably) and I can't tell what it's trying to "say." What am I supposed to feel after reading this exposition?

I think it's supposed to be a satirical think-piece? The author is linked to The Bold Italic, the king of local pretension.

Something something something unexamined privilege, I rather suspect. It'd be funnier if the author wasn't trying to make some kind of political point muddled by half-baked humor.

>unexamined privilege

Silicon Valley is famous for its navel-gazing. There's even a hit television show devoted to it. The privilege is well and rightfully examined. That's why, I think, this satire falls flat -- it doesn't say anything that isn't painfully obvious to anyone who has even a casual familiarity with the local culture, and even worse, it doesn't say the painfully obvious in any new way.

It doesn't 'bite' like the onion does, where it comes too close to reality for comfort. It's not zany and off-beat like a Mad Magazine bit. It's just... not that good.

Only if you want it that way.

none of this resonates with me at all

Imagine the author had first tried psilocybin, then no one would've gotten cancer from reading that borderline sociopathic, materialist screed.

It's satire, bro. Chill out.

You enjoy writing about yourself in a detached second-person style, but with a dull sadness you realize that it's pretentious and does little to mask your inner emptiness. A solution in search of a problem, like many other things in your life, the way you write brings out the worst tendencies in you, and does little to actually improve the way you live.


No, seriously, stop that. Narrate in the first or second person; those are easier to relate to rather than the not-so-abstract "you". Invent a protagonist for your story if it doesn't already have one. Character building seems to be quickly fading into obscurity as a lost art of sorts, and you can help revive it.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact