There are folks out there working minimum wage jobs who are truly miserable, back breaking labor, standing on their feet all day, standing in the hot sun or out in the cold weather, avoiding dangerous machinery and avoiding trying to be maimed or worse loose their life. Dealing with stupid harassment and constant abuse from their boss who makes a $1 more above minimum wage.
Folks out there are really going through it. It doesn't mean that we don't have tough challenges in tech, but we have become spoiled and a bunch of whiners. The majority of the population are outside the industry and they roll their eyes when these type of articles come out and these incessant complaints don't endear them to us.
Then there is a vocal minority who leverage that no individual's performance really affects the money printing machine. They blatantly view the company and its resources as a means to further their political goals.
They come across as incredibly entitled and tone-deaf against the actual working class or people actually suffering from oppression (say, women being incarcerated in Iran for decades for taking off their veils, or protesters in HK). No matter how petty and entitled the request, anything denied is interpreted as some larger act of "violence" against them.
What I didn't/don't understand is why management allowed that to happen. Either they actually believe in the political goals themselves, are afraid of the conflict, or believe it just does not matter for the company.
I think what management fails to understand often is that giving in to a demand is not viewed with gratitude but merely as accepting what's naturally right and good. In other words, giving in to demands 1..n does not give you credit when demand n+1 is posed. The ultimate conflict is just delayed.
Each of the major FAAMG companies has a political/dominance issue of some kind, one that comes to mind more immediately than all the political issues associated with those companies. Taking a swag at it:
* Facebook: privacy - exploitation (personal data exploitation)
* Amazon: automation
* Apple: privacy - enforced (withholding from gov't)
* Microsoft: [I'm not even sure, they're flying low.. perhaps monopolization, or government backdoors?]
* Google: politicization/curation
I would suggest that Google's the clearest "ideation" company here, where censorship/curation is the most core part of their business model (Facebook is social media, Google is a borg-like machine collection all of the Internet and then putting algorithms around access to it), and most prone to politicization crossing the internal/external cultural barrier.
Keep in mind that true evil is MBS ordering the murder of journalist Khasshogi. True evil is invading and conquering Crimea. True evil is murdering your generals with anti-aircraft guns or watching dogs tear them apart while still alive.
Serving banner ads across sites does not even remotely compare.
That’s not whining imo, that’s standing up to exactly the breed of ‘True Evil’ you define here.
We have seen this before in tech: Nazi Germany was probably IBM’s second largest customer at the time. There is a moral imperative to not let something like that happen again.
We should all be disturbed that the executive team at Google felt that Project Dragonfly was appropriate.
If not, why single out Google when Apple / Walmart / ... are allowed to benefit from Chinese market?
This is a straw man argument. The critique made of Google is not that has come to embody "true evil". But that it has (by degrees) slouched towards moral ambivalence, and acquiescence of (yes) evil.
I think you are perfectly aware that Google is engaged in a lot more than simply the business of serving banner ads.
While I completely disagree with a commentor who calls “not interested in politics” an euphemism, as if they were disgusting and uneducated, your set of scary factoids likely falls right into this category.
I agree with you completely!
The vocal minority you refer to doesn't influence my day to day or month to month. You get people posting manifestos, and people whining about XYZ, but you only butt heads with them if you actively seek them out and want to get offended.
The idea that there are some kind of political commissars reprimanding me for "whitelisting" features for certain customers, or giving out demerits for using gendered pronouns in promo packets, is a paranoid fantasy.
Obviously some people think there's more to life than cashing a large paycheck and writing code. "Not interested in politics" is an euphemism for clueless and easy to manipulate by those that are.
That it is due to a vocal minority doesn't mean it is due to this vocal minority. Not all vocal minorities are equal, and nor should all vocal minorities be treated alike.
Freedom of speech is a great thing. That doesn't mean everyone exercising their freedom to speak results in a positive.
I did not say that the same vocal minority is responsible for all progress. Neither did I say that all vocal minorities are alike. All of this should be blindingly obvious to any adult, unless they're trying to twist words, be pedantic or generally argue in bad faith.
This is obvious and should go without saying. The parent comment gave an example of a positive consequence of an instance of this so-called "vocal minority", since the grandparent comment left no room for any positive angle on this.
I'm seriously confused how this translates into treating all "vocal-minorities" equally or that they all result in a positive.
I do not see this. Grandparent said "a vocal minority", which I interpret as a specific vocal minority. Like when someone says "there is a vocal person in my team who is obnoxious" - it does not imply that all vocal people in all teams are obnoxious.
My point was the example given by the person I responded to is kind of irrelevant. Yes, vocal minorities have done great things for many, many people. The GP to my comment was not talking about those, and listing positive vocal minorities that exist or have existed is irrelevant.
However, I see where you are coming from and thank you for clarifying.
I countered by saying that vocal minorities were able to achieve great things in the past, so implicitly their arguments should be evaluated on their merit.
Or a polite way of saying "I fundamentally disagree with you but don't feel like getting into a debate at work, please leave me alone."
That there exists a vocal minority does not mean they are right. There exists vocal minorities calling for the dissolution of most of your most fundamental rights.
I do this for all manner of things, including political discussions at work. That other people don't hold this as a default position is astounding to me.
Notably absent on their list of demands was the dissolution of most of anyone's fundamental rights.
Conversely, there are also those who are "too political" and want to bring their politics into every aspect of their lives and the lives of those around them. People like this can be as toxic as those they are speaking out against.
...or perhaps they're not interested in talking about politics with you.
In other words, you could end up having absolutely no conflicts about scenarios like these:
Or maybe even end up patting yourself in the back at the end of the quarter for outperforming KPI (e.g. ISP marketshare increase) and get a nice bonus while you are at it.
The problem with your reasoning is that your actions at FAAMNG does not happen in a vacuum.
It sounds as though you believe you're simply describing facts, but that is bewilderingly far from true. To most readers here, saying things like "women tend to behave more childlike and are less willing to take on responsibility" is an extreme provocation. It's also a strangely limited and limiting statement, since we all know many people who would sooner make such a statement about men than about women.
You mentioned empathizing; my guess is that with a bit more empathizing, you wouldn't want to say such things any more. There's too much opportunity to hurt other people and start highly reactive, zero-communication arguments with them—especially on the internet, where the lack of any mitigating information (like tone of voice, gesture, or pre-existing relationship) guarantees that people will project into your words the worst and most monstrous interpretation they can bear, whether you meant them that way or not.
Would you mind taking a look at the site guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html? I think you'll find that several of them apply to threads like this, especially this one: "Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."
Since I just asked you not to do this and explained why at length, it seems clear that you don't want to use this site as intended. I've banned the account. If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email email@example.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.
This is not as self-evident as you imply.
Women can be compared with children now?
Anyone in Sierra Leone could claim to a US citizen: "Sugar lobbies are meddling with public school meals and making children diabetic? Lucky you, my country doesn't have public schools and children are starving". This of course doesn't invalidate the issue.
Having lived in a third world country it would be very easy for me to dismiss "they refuse to call me by my preferred pronoun" as whining. After immigrating into the first world, it's a clear realization to me that suffering is relative and that's necessary for civilization to continue progressing through time.
The utility of the example I gave depends on your moral values , which admittedly was crafted for the perceived majority of the HN crowd.
The example for me is a sign of respect for the freedom to be who you want to be, in contrast of imposing your morals on others. It's a sign of advancement to me that individuals feel comfortable with themselves, instead of wasting energy hiding trying to conform to an arbitrary standard. I spend less energy calling people how they like to be called than they would spend by being uncomfortable with themselves their whole lives. I won't get into the accounting of energy wasted, take my argument or leave it.
I'm sorry you're being downvoted without explanation - cold shoulders divide people even further.
 Moral values change according to time and place: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mores
They want to be called a certain pronoun because they want to be thought of as their preferred gender. They don't really care about the pronoun. They care about the opinion it signals. An opinion they don't want people to be allowed to have. In order words, they want to change language in order to change people's thought patterns and mental models. If people were allowed to speak however they want it would break the spell. It would break the suspension of disbelief.
Having your thoughts decided for you is exertion of power and dominance that makes me deeply uncomfortable. It is no small thing to give up.
Morality is something we impose upon ourselves and others precisely to coordinate the polity, in order avoid or manage conflicts (e.g. driving on the left vs driving on the right).
Actually, all of you Westerners are rich entitled whiners. You have consistent access to clean water that comes straight to your house, you even have a house, with insulation and carpets no less. You have a cornucopia of diverse and nutritious foods, and your social institutions will even feed you if you're poor! Not only do you have all these necessities, even your poor people have opulent expensive toys like cars, TVs and cell phones!
This is provably wrong, many people are not whiners no matter which country you look at.
Now the question becomes, how much is this attitude responsible for all the richness you described? If it is partially or fully responsible, then others should adopt it as well, and they'd be better off "whining" as well.
Let's give a scenario, two kids at a table, one shouts "I demand desert". The other responds "Stop whining, I didn't even get to eat anything, at least you got an entree". Whose most likely to get what they want? Maybe the other should have whined instead: "And I demand a full meal!"
Exactly - and managers would do that to tech workers in a second if they could. Let's make the best of our negotiating position while we can.
If worker-boss relationships can't be fixed at a company where the workers are economically valuable and highly educated, how can that be propagated downwards to the rest of the economy? Do people actually want it fixed, or are they more afraid of their fellow workers than their abusive boss?
The average tenure at these companies is ~2yrs, so clearly the money isn't worth it for most people. It's interesting to hear why that is without dismissing any possible problem out of hand.
It's really sad.
And yes, they're also human and discuss whether single-use water bottles are bad enough that they're worth replacing, how best to keep fit so that they don't cost their employer-funded health care program too much in the long run, and yes, like many nerds, they discuss the type of laptop they like best.
But hey, if it makes you feel better to judge people, go for it.
Our boss knows that having TrackPoint is a "conditions of employment" issue. Yes, it's a privilege... at the same time, it's what we spend 50+hrs of week on, so it needs to not cause ergonomic and usability issues every second of every minute of the day ️
But it gives tech workers in general a really bad vibe. Pompous, spoiled brats.
Of course, most of these people are nice human beings, but somehow they get lost in minutiae and 0th world problems the moment they join some hot startup.
But that whole "don't complain, people have it worse" vibe extends to almost anyone living in the United States vs other countries where money means nothing, rule of law doesn't exist, or the mother country is about to slaughter thousands of people for wanting democracy.
The point is: Maintain perspective, but still continue bitching about the uncomfortable chairs.
Fun fact: when Google employees had Windows laptops, the government of China hacked them, trying to steal identifying information about dissidents.
Do you have state-funded hackers attacking your laptop so they can kill people?
Quite common fallacy and useless misdirection. Article is not about minimum wage work struggles but about a struggle of people with particular skill set in particular environment. Not sure how your inappropriate outburst and lack of focus is relevant here?
Multiple easily findable sources suggest that the median tech salary at Google is well below $150k -- probably more like around $130k.
I get your point about the "whining" -- but while the average Google definitely does better than someone with a non-tech salary -- it most cases they aren't bulge-bracket either, or anywhere near it.
It's not a valid argumentative tactic to dismiss legitimate concerns as "whining", especially since you haven't addressed the substance of the issue at all, and it's pure what-aboutism and crab mentality to suggest that because somewhere there exist people who have it worse, you shouldn't try to make things better.
Or are you saying that, this kind of article will not win us sympathy from the greater populace, and we should adopt a different strategy in that regard?
Or something else?
And that is also very unacceptable.
That statement needs to be challenged. The Montessori method might be great at small scale in an educational context, but that doesn't mean it's a great way to run a company worth most of a trillion dollars. Yes, empowering employees is good. Yes, having a few "coddled geniuses" to drive basic science or radical innovation is good too. OTOH, having every single engineer haring off in random directions all the time might not be so great. I believe this boundary-less freedom to focus on whatever's most interesting and ignore everything else is why issues like privacy and social impact have been routinely shortchanged at companies like Google and Facebook. We've seen where that leads. (It leads to some characteristic technical problems too but that's not the topic right now.)
"Don't be evil" and similar promises don't fulfill themselves. At FAANG scale, sticking to such promises requires a certain amount of focus and discipline every working moment, not just a few people spending more time on internal groups/lists than doing technical work. I know that's going to rub most employees at those companies the wrong way, but that doesn't make it untrue.
P.S. I work at one of those companies. I do know how they work, and I'm not criticizing for criticism's sake. I'm trying to get at what I think is necessary for me and my colleagues to better ourselves and do things we can be proud of.
That statement needs to be challenged.
The Montessori method might be great at small scale in an educational context, but that doesn't mean it's a great way to run a company worth most of a trillion dollars.
Yes, empowering employees is good. Yes, having a few "coddled geniuses" to drive basic science or radical innovation is good too.
OTOH, having every single engineer haring off in random directions all the time might not be so great.
That is not true. To bring that kind of potential about in many people who thought they were not geniuses prior to encountering an environment where their skills are fostered is one of the greatest advantages a company could possibly have.
Some might just call this "good HR", or "caring about people". I have worked in companies where there were people who truly cared about their employees and about their strengths (and who could not afford the obvious "geniuses") and who thus almost "created" these geniuses.
I know there are many ways in which I am simplifying this and I know that no company should try to employ purely geniuses. I have worked in a small team of six "very, very advanced" people in their respective fields. It was basically impossible to create any kind of cohesion. I would suspect it would be similar with other teams of "geniuses". Maybe not, but I think you are overall right in what you say, but it is so incredibly important to understand that the lines between a "genius" and a "run of the mill" developer may be more blurred than most people expect.
As for retaliation, that's something else.
> “Everyone thought Google had an absolute right to stop you from talking about anything related to Google"
So, safe and open - as long all speech and action is completely controlled by the company.
PS - Google's corporate political line and that of most of its employees, from what it looks like, seems to have been aligned with the corporate/right-wing of the Democratic party, i.e. right of center even of US public opinion.
Have you ever worked under those conditions? It's incredibly distracting.
The alternative to trustworthiness and self-control is Apple-level secrecy. (And even they are leaking a lot these days.)
I support strong border control and Canadian style immigration (point based/merit based).
Where on the spectrum do you believe this idea lies?
The article, to me, seems to imply that perhaps working at a radically free corporation doesn't yield pure bliss and benefit.
Is there some reason this article needs to balance out any possible misery with all the luxurious amenities Googlers enjoy? Does anyone actually think that it's not possible someone could have a miserable experience at Google?
The "misery" I think is talking about the company, not the employees per se. None of the employees in the article claimed they were miserable... and as you can see the simple word "misery" has totally allowed the conversation to bypass anything substantive about Google's policies and focus only on feeeeeelings that aren't even in the article.
I think someone could be miserable at Google. Humans have a remarkable capacity for misery in all sorts of circumstances!
Not in so many words, but many quit for cultural reasons and (at least perceived) retaliation. Others are engaged in lawsuits, presumably not out of pure joy.
I think that. Google employees are at the top of the pyramid, so if the article was true, they would have left for an almost identical salary nearby. The fact that they don't means that either google pays way above its direct competitors (it doesnt) or these people are outright lying, and their actions speak louder than 12k words
In fact, the idea that any organization on the planet could be exclusively a place where only happiness exists, and no one could be misfit, is patently absurd.
I see an implication in your response that money buys happiness and there are no other significant factors worth mentioning. Am I wrong?
Both articles present insider perspectives lamenting how internal conflicts within highly exclusive organizations were pushed into the public sphere through leaking and protesting. Both organizations are experiencing disconnects between people in various roles (admins vs students, execs vs employees) and a sense of loss of culture.
So my thoughts are:
- is this a generational culture shift? Less trust in internal systems and better access to outside publishing means young people aren't making a real effort to stay within the system to discuss?
- is "internal transparency" an impossible thing at scale in the modern era? Keeping things internally private doesn't work because you only need one bad actor out of thousands to leak everything?
- are the culture of Yale and Google really that special, or were they just really well marketed? Why are people so personally and emotionally invested in these organisations? Are all big orgs like this now, or were the cultures at these particular spots just well evolved for loyal following?
But I also have a sense that lots of things that were considered positives in the early days of the Internet have become negatives, or are simply taken for granted. For example, growth was once considered good, but now it's bad. Giving services away for free is ho-hum at best and maybe suspicious. Trying to fix Internet problems is greeted with deep suspicion based solely on who is doing it. Personalization was once good, but now it's bad. And so on.
That's inevitably going to result in a different internal culture at an Internet company than back in the days when Google's search engine first appeared on the Internet and got near-universal respect.
I have some sympathy for Google, as flawed as they sometimes might be. I base this on experience working as a contractor at Google and also having just retired from a job managing a deep learning team at a large financial institution. Both companies seemed (to me) to make a large effort in diversity, ethics, etc. training and a general atmosphere of fairness.
That said, problems occur in large organizations. Really off topic, but I dream of a world with smaller corporations, a more decentralized world. I don’t know how we are going to get there.
Google management seems to give in so much and if you are a GOOG shareholder you could have a real case here (re the Maven project). [Disclosure: I am not a GOOG shareholder]. Management has to keep the interests of the company at heart - they are legally bound to do whats best for the company. One could argue that getting involved in AI+Warfare is bad for the image of the company, but the revenue it brings in as well as getting an entry into defense dollars would be a huge benefit for its nascent cloud division.
Whether you like it or not, employees will have personal opinions and it is great to accommodate their expression of such opinions. However, as a public company, GOOG management has legal obligations too. As conflicts with and demands of management increase, and it impacts revenue, we shall see top level management excuse themselves from interacting this openly with employees.
Unfortunately, more open and liberal companies are also more susceptible to such attacks and lawsuits when compared to a corp that is more authoritarian.
Google got to where it is by aspiring to have the best working conditions available, and much of its talent came for that reason. You can build companies other ways--just like Amazon did--but changing that deal out from under the employees who came based on that deal would be quite disruptive and result in turmoil during the transition.
Would things be better for the company coming out the other side of such a transition? Hard to say, but the costs would be quite high.
Shareholder value is more of a pervasive cultural thing. Most people and certainly everyone in charge has stock or stock options, so naturally everyone wants the stock to go up. People are also rewarded for increasing revenue. There are OKR's. And this is all justified as aligning the interests of the employees with the shareholders.
However, just because you have incentives to be pro-business doesn't prevent you from putting other considerations first when that's what's important to you. The pro-business bias is often not that strong, but it's persistent and pervasive.
It would be interesting to compare how this plays out in different companies.
Isn't the point that everyone should be organizing because working conditions everywhere are much worse than they could be, and the organizing at Google is a case study for how organizing works at one particularly unusual company?
Tonally, it is telling that some personalities had descriptions of their emotional states (from what source?) while others only had their actions and opinions described.
> In the memo, Damore wrote that hiring practices aimed to increase diversity “can effectively lower the bar” at Google.
Damore wrote that Google "...lowered the bar by reducing the false negative rate." Unsurprisingly, almost every news outlet chopped off the last 6 works of the sentence.
So here's my TL;DR, in an effort to refocus the conversation to what I think is interesting about the article.
* First, the article does not discuss personal misery at all, so if you're talking about rich people whining about their problems, notice you're in old-married-people conversation mode, having an irrelevant yet comfortable and reassuring conversation.
* The article is long and has a broad arc, contrasting "don't be evil" with 1) Google's steps and missteps in China, 2) Google's tensions with the US government, and 3) Google's controversies over sexual harassment payouts and the Damore memo (HN's favorite!).
1 & 2) The article alternates employee walkouts over the Trump travel ban (tension with US gov), the initial entry into the Chinese market (tension with the employees and the US gov), the exit from the Chinese market (Google employees in China sad, US employees joyful), the Maven project (working for US Dept of Def, trying to downplay it to employees), the political backlash for dropping Maven (US Gov: Google is evil & unpatriotic), and the Dragonfly project for bringing Google back to China (unpatriotic like I said right?).
* The geopolitical push and pull is discussed in terms of employee opinions and government opinions. The harassment and diversity issues are discussed in terms of employee opinions and media and internet opinions/doxxing/etc. The larger idea is to compare the internal and external forces pushing on Google and Alphabet's C-suite and examine where they're going.
So. Do you think the comparison of internal activism re: Dragonfly & Maven to internal activism re: the harassment payouts is warranted? To what extent should Google be following the lead of its employees, and how should it do that when employees disagree? Do capitalism and "not being evil" fundamentally conflict?
A cute meme that people like to repeat because it 'sounds right', not really accurate. Gmail was someone's pet project, Earth was purchased, and Translate was a boring statistical analysis program for 10 years. I mean, really, how "wild" does your mind have to be to write a crappy CRUD app or design an algorithm?
Gmail and Translate are, indeed, not extremely exciting.
I'm pretty sure there were plenty of geniuses on the Hotmail team at the time, too--maybe they weren't being coddled enough in the Ballmer era! ;)
What is this article about, anyway?
Privileged people making lots of of money acting like spoiled kids despite having limitless alternative options.
Thanks for the tldr.
It's about 12000 words long.
> “the only way to deal with all the heads of the medusa is to no-platform all of them.”
Shouldn't it rather be the heads of the hydra ?
But "the medusa" is also an error at another level, because one should write either "Medusa" or "the gorgon". Medusa was the name of a specific gorgon.
google can afford to fight all these ideological battles and employee spats because of their large revenue. If they weren't raking in so much dough, I doubt they would be willing to humor employees complaints on the scale cited in Wired (an entire social network for employees and supported by the company?). I'm sure similar incidents occur at other large corporations. They definitely happen at mid-sized companies, albeit with lower intensity. working in HR for google must be quite the safari
But remember that Google+ was a company-wide initiative intended to compete with Facebook, which is kind of a big deal. Yes, they had lots of money to throw at it, but it was for a purpose.
The internal version was originally for testing. (Also, the business version of Google+ is still a product as part of G suite.)
Of course it's just a pseudo equation.
1. There's a ton of dissatisfaction in the Google employee base
2. It's distracting company management and hurting the company core mission (making cash)
3. It won't go away any time soon
(FWIW, I believe the case is overstated.)
May have been better as a series of articles.
Spend 5 min reading the first few blocks couldn't make out what's this about.
"In their extensive review of research based on Maslow's theory, Wahba and Bridwell found little evidence for the ranking of needs that Maslow described or for the existence of a definite hierarchy at all"
I don't mean the specifics of the hierarchy, but the idea behind it. Sure, maybe the specific hierarchy isn't right, but the idea that some needs have to be satisfied before a person can contribute to other needs is absolutely spot on. I know this from life experience. So to convince me that the underlying idea is wrong would take a hell of a lot of evidence.
Man, I wish I had the problems of these Goooglers.
Sure, sexism and racial discrimination is bad bad bad, but this happens at the vast majority of employers. If I and/or my co-workers tried to do one of these walkouts, security would be there when we came back to take our badges and tell us to leave or the police would be called.
I find it extremely difficult to feel any sympathy for these folks because they have it much better than I do, and extremely better than millions of people in the United States and billions of people worldwide.
A cursory Google search (ha, maybe I should have used Bing) on-site physicians, paid PATERNITY leave, death benefits, leave of absence to pursue education, having Google on your CV probably helps tremendously if you try and get a job somewhere else, Google allows employees to spend 20% of their time pursuing a project that they are passionate about, apparently Googlers can bring their pets to work, have access to all sorts of other benefits like shuttles/food/recreation that simply do not exist for the vast majority of people in the world.
The lifter in my work chair has been broken for years now, it has recently started tilting to the left as well, it is 12 years old. Our windows 10 upgrade removed a functional calculator, something I use every few minutes, requiring me to either buy a calculator or use Google for work-related maths. There are 3 microwaves and 2 small refrigerators for 100~ employees. In the winter the upper 60's are not uncommon in the office with the upper 70's and lower 80's not uncommon in the summer with business casual dress mandatory. Need to go to the doctor, be prepared to at least take a half day which you have to request well in advance most of the time with about a month and a half blacked out every year where no one can take time off. Need a personal day, well you better fake sick and call in and if you call in 2-3x in a 6 month period you're now on their radar and risking verbal warning territory.
I'm sorry, but I just can't feel sorry for them.
The main point of this meandering article that I'm gathering, and that's being kind since it's basically a 'book' about notable events at Google over the past few years, is the erosion of communication and transparency between the upper echelons of Google and the lower level employees. The amount of doxxing in particular really scared me.
And I agree that there is a problem there, we should talk about it, doxxing is awful, and injustice needs to be tackled at every level.
However, I think your response is partly fallacious, in that the GP is not comparing a local situation to far away starving children in Africa.
Rather, in that analogy, they _are_ one of the starving children, like in Africa, and to rub it in it's in the same neighbourhood. Both make quite a different perspective, I think.
I think the GP's point was more that they struggle to feel sympathy for the Googlers, when they themselves are in a much worse situation, which they regard as just realistic life in their world for ordinary people.
I think they wanted to paint a picture for the rest of us of what "real life" is like for a lot of people in exactly the same country, lest we forget, and start to think it's generally good except at Google.
The Schmidt idea that they have to keep their "divas" like Andy Rubin seems not to be yielding results.
At the end of the day we're all going up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and as you get closer to the top you start freaking out about existential stuff the same way people working the bottom freak out about physical necessities. If you started out fairly close to the top (i.e. born to the upper middle-class, like many Googlers) then that existential stuff is likely the only type of challenge that's ever consistently existed in your life, which gives it even more weight. So you focus on it and don't appreciate the benefits of being a Googler. That's just expected after a while.
It's not all decadence though, in my experience a lot of people who had to rise from humbler origins are actually held back by their relative conservatism; they stop improving at a certain point because they don't prioritize the existential stuff as much. I work with some engineers hailing from blue-collar backgrounds who give me weird looks when I tell them about my side projects, they're shocked I mess around with tech outside of work. Why would I want to do work when I don't have to? How is it fun? It's like I told them I was mining coal in my backyard. As a result I sometimes know things about their work that, despite their fundamental competence, they never learned.
Plus, we need people to agonize about the existential stuff (although perhaps in a more coherent manner than this article). If everyone was satisfied with basic material needs things like sexism and racial discrimination would never get addressed (What do you care you didn't get that job you wanted? You still have a roof over your head and food in your stomach!)
Misery knows no social class, and everything's a trade-off.
Googlers are the first to admit we're spoiled. _Most_ of us are conscious of our privileges compared to other workers.
But as others have pointed out that doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to issues of sexism and lack of diversity, attitudes towards minorities, etc. which are issues more _parallel_ to the privileges you're describing than in contradiction to it.
I think we can all agree that sexism is bad, and that in a perfect world your coworker would not be looking at you with "hungry eyes". But the world isn't perfect, and you have a coworker who is attracted to you. Maybe even a bit too flirty.
But then people treat this as if the coworker is a horrible human being rather than maybe just an oblivious or socially awkward person who isn't really trying to cause any sort of harm. And this behavior then gets equated with sexual assault, "violence", and so forth.
The perspective is all skewed. It's not nearly as large of a problem as they're making it out to be. There was a story a while back about a woman who realized her drink (coffee I think) would start tasting strange in the middle of the day so she took it to a lab and had them analyze it. It turns out one of her male coworkers had been ejaculating into it when she walked away. THAT is horrific. Your male coworker being a bit flirty is not nearly on the same level, but people treat it as if it is. And that's where the problems arise.
And you just watch, atleast one person is going to respond to me affronted and imply that I must be arguing that it's ok for unwanted attention, or that I believe it can't cross unacceptable lines. It absolutely can, that's not the point.
Regardless of what your employer thinks, you don't need a four year degree to make a good living. There are lots of fulfilling careers that don't require you to go to college. On the other hand, if you get a solid engineering degree, you can take on a few tens of thousands of dollars of debt. If you want to study liberal arts, then you should look for ways do it without spending so much money. It can be done.
Figure out what your goals are and what you need to do to achieve them. I'm sure it won't involve staying indefinitely at your current job with the algae in the ice machine.
Your situation is awful. In fact, it's so bad that no one should ever have to be in it, and you're absolutely right that ours is eons better.
That doesn't mean this is the way things must be.
All of those benefits you listed—they are things that any decent society would provide. The fact that Google choosing to be decent is not only so rare, but also contempt-inducing in people who are ground down by other companies is a staggering win for every other company that doesn't want to offer good benefits.
The fact that instead of saying "hey, we expect to be treated as well as Google treats its employees, and we're willing to pass laws to that effect if need be", people are saying "man, look at those coddled Googlers" while aware of their own untenable positions—that's a triumph of the soul sucking machinery of modern employment.
I'm not suggesting action. I'm not even asking you to feel sorry for us—you're right, in most cases, there's nothing to feel sorry for, though depending on your sympathies, a kind thought towards those who receive torrents of abuse would be…well, kind.
I would ask that you imagine yourself in our shoes and wonder: is working at Google the be-all and the end-all of a life fulfilled? Is Google really perfect? That's what the internal fights are about. We should make search accessible to billions in China! No, we should never lend support to oppressive regimes! We should increase our reach by hiring across demographisc to make sure we truly understand our global user base! No, we should not mess with the hiring recipe that has given Google this dominant position!
These fights come from a sense of responsibility. We at Google are uniquely privileged to work at a company that has immense influence on the world. The fights are about what our responsibilities are to this world. To the people that come to us expecting truth, to those that come to us expecting safety, to those that entrust us with the details of their daily lives, and those of their children.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: the takeaway from this article isn't that you should feel sorry for us. It's that you should be aware that somewhere where you have little influence, fierce battles are being fought that will affect you in ways great and small. Whoever you back, I'd take away that someone is trying to have your back.
I've been trying to articulate this in this thread, but you've said it far better than I did.
You could buy your own chair for work and I believe you can write it off in tax as a work expense.
Given your long years of work experience you could almost certainly get into a distance learning Master’s degree in the U.K., e.g. the Queen Mary University of London MBA.
If you don’t have managerial experience of any kind I can recommend CeFIMS
You can start with an individual professional award and transfer to a Master’s proper and be done in three years for ~£10,000.
Alternatively you can get a US Bachelor’s for far less than tens of thousands of dollars through transfer credit and credit by examination like the community on degreeforum.net. People have done it in under a year.
It sounds like you’re in a bad situation. I hope things get better for you soon.
We have one employee with their own chair, it required a doctor's note, had to meet certain specifications (I thinks he actually had to show what she was going to buy first) and of course be purchased with their own money.
As far as the two sites you linked, I'm not in the United Kingdom and I doubt many employers would pay attention to those things in the United States.
As far as testing for credit, most colleges still require you to take a significant percentage of your courses through them.
The problem with a degree is I'm 34, if I magically had the funds today to pursue a degree I'd probably graduate around 39. Great, I'd be elligible for entry level work at 39 while there are many high school students graduating high school with an Associates degree and well on the way to their Bachelor's degree so I'd be competing for entry level work in whatever field against 20-22 year old applicants that are willing to work for less money and less benefits while I'm 39~.
Money and conditions aside, age discrimination is very real and degrees aren't even worth today what they were 10 years ago. I was browsing indeed.com trying to find a new job so I could cash out my pension and use it for tuition last week and was finding that even Administrative Assistant positions at small doctor/medical offices were wanting a 4-year degree and larger companies/government agencies were requiring them for the same type of job.
Now keep in mind there are millions, tens of millions, of working adults like me in similar (or worse) positions in life.
49~% of workers in the United States make less than 30k  yet 33.4 percent of Americans 25 or older said they had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher .
When we hear stories like this article, and then a quick search shows us that an average base salary at google might be 81-173k a year  with a mountain of benefits/perks and we here about 'years of misery' we just roll our eyes and think "well, if I cancel my gym membership, and don't have any emergencies, I can retire at 70 instead of 80 unless one of those AI companies puts me out of work."
They generally do but there are three with extremely generous policies, Thomas Edison State University, Charter Oak and Excelsior University in New York. The last demands only one capstone credit be with them. You can transfer everything else.
After the year you can apply to BYU Idaho online and they've actually structured the degree in 'certificates' so you earn a 'certificate' from BYU to pad your CV, then another certificate, then another etc and eventually your Bachelor's.
The benefit here is BYU tuition is INSANELY cheap (if you don't fail any classes, 7,800 USD for your Bachelor's but that still stings when I factor in interest and the age handicap when I do have the degree).
The problem here is though, I can't get a loan for the 3 semester and it's something like 400$ a semester, up front each semester, which is a lot of money to me (most of a week's take home).
Also consider I have a GED, haven't been in school for 15-16 years... I've been doing the Khan Academy basic math (started basic division last night) to try and get into the habit of regular study and testing.
Mostly though I'm just doing a lot of "what can I sell and get 400$ for so I don't have to blow my emergency fund". I cancelled my gym membership yesterday which sucks as it's my entire social life, basically the only thing I look forward to and the owner is my friend and we had a bro-hug and both got kinda sad even though we will still see each other, and that savings will cover the 2nd and 3rd semester but doesn't help me with the first.
Last year I had talked myself into looking at WGU since you could do as much as you could handle and didn't pay per credit hour but per unit of time instead... yeah... I had some credits from a failed attempt at an Associates degree when I was 18... I had my transcript sent to them April 9th 2018, they emailed me 4 days ago with the evaluation... glad I didn't take out a bunch of loans for them...
The inability to get even a $1200 loan when you have a sensible plan, sucks. Since you are LDS, famed for church community... is that something your church, friends or family might help out with?
In my experience, that's an amount friends lend each other if they've known each other a long time and can do it. Sometimes, with the understanding that the payback terms are extremely flexible. Because that isn't at all a hardship amount for everyone, and it sounds like it could make a big difference to your life.
Whatever you do, best of luck.
Yes, but I don't like asking for help. Worst case (hopefully they take card) I can put it on a card and then balance transfer to another card to buy some interest free time.
What chaps me is I fund a 529 (10-15$ a month over the past few years, figuring if I ever have kids I could transfer it to them) which would cover the first semester BUT since the first year isn't accredited... it's a non-qualified expense which means if I take the money to pay it I get hit with tax and penalty.
This is not like the other details. What the hell caused that?
- people wiping on the wall, also multiple instances of feces not IN the toilet (mostly 'I waited too long and sprayed on the back of the toilet sitting down)
- countless "whoops I peed on the floor/wall and couldn't be bothered to clean it up"
- serial nose pick and stickers at the urinals
- someone was trying to flush paper towels down the urinals for several months
- the women have had multiple issues of blood on the toilet seats/floors and at least one instance on the wall
The microwaves have signs stating "do not microwave metal" because people have microwaved metal. The sinks have signs saying do not wash food down the drains (since there is obviously no garbage disposal). Sign saying not to remove the coffee pots from the breakroom. Signs stating the building is fragrance free yet people still come in wearing choking amounts of floral perfumes.
Regular reminders of only TWO personal items, do not touch your desk partners personal belongings, log out when you leave, log out when you leave, log out when you leave, did I mention log out when you leave (because pressing ctrl+alt+del on the lock screen and clicking switch user is SOOOO hard).
Then someone complained about food trucks coming here every few weeks so corporate reminded us food trucks are NOT allowed on the property as it violates company solicitation policies yet if you want something other than reheated food your half hour lunch break does not provide enough time to drive somewhere, buy food, drive back and eat it (unless you eat while you're driving) and don't forget only 'finger food' is allowed at desks yet most of the managers eat in their offices and they'll throw out the rule when they sell hot dogs and chips for 5$ as a fundraiser or when they sell pancakes as a fundraiser (and they cook them next to the ice machine, which makes the ice hardcore taste like pancakes for a day or two after).
But gee don't you know, the company is consistently voted one of the best places to work! Must be those corporate employees that get bonuses (and probably cost of living increases unlike the other 400k plus employees).
I can only imagine the people this company employees if they are spending 35K on a software developer. 90% sure the majority of staff is making minimum wage.
With such low wages, you can't expect quality.
You do realize not every human being on the planet, or even HN, is a software developer, right?
>90% sure the majority of staff is making minimum wage.
I make 65% of my state's annual HOUSEHOLD income and 2.3x minimum wage... this is a problem with HN, many of you make 6 figure salaries and assume that everyone is a software engineer making 6 figure salaries.
The 2017 nominal median income per capita was $31,786 in the United States.
Am I wrong with my assumption?
I'm not offended by the statement, but if the difference's so pronounced I'll be happy to hear any opportunities for remote work :P
I dont know if notices went up telling people not to do it though! I could never work out if it was intentional or some people just don't know how to shit???
I dont understand it either...
On the current office it's a piss on the floor issue, no urinals in the men's toilet and apparently some guys can't consistently hit the toilet with their piss!
When people get to the point where they literally smear their feces on the walls, they're grasping at ways to make a statement about how god-awful their environment is.
Source: Our toxic geology department constantly had shit on the walls, until we completely gutted it and restructured/replaced the administration and policies. Better workplace, no more shit on the walls.
"If it makes you feel any better, I work at Google, but have found toilets with pee all over the floor and toilet seat and much worse I'd rather not talk about. :-)"
All actions other than status quo lead to something worse. (Loss of job, unaffordable debt, etc.) And it's a perfectly normal situation in their part of the world for their skills and occupation, so it isn't them, it's just real life for the peasants.
That's why they struggle to find sympathy for those whose situation is vastly better already. It's like listening to royalty complaining about conditions in the palace, when you're a starving peasant.
I meant the sentiment: Where life at Google sounds so remote and unachievable to the median-income 31k person, as if walled-off in a luxurious palace on the top of a nearby, annoyingly visible hill; a totally unrelatable life of relative luxury.
Rather than a numerically apt comparison.
> I find it extremely difficult to feel any sympathy for these folks because they have it much better than I do, and extremely better than millions of people in the United States and billions of people worldwide.
If you are living in the US, and making 35k, you are in the top 1% income worldwide.
So it is a world 1 percenter complaining about not being in the US 1 percenter, and saying by extension, they do not care about people who have it better.
Applying that same theory globally, 99% of people globally should not care about this post.
In my original comment I say:
>I find it extremely difficult to feel any sympathy for these folks because they have it much better than I do, and extremely better than millions of people in the United States and billions of people worldwide.
Much better than I, extremely better than billions worldwide implying I'm well aware I have it much better off than a notable percentage of the global population as 'extreme' is more drastic than 'much'.
99% of other companies, especially big companies, do way less than Google to accommodate social justice activists. Yet they seem to be least happy at Google.
Buddha was onto something about human nature.
They've got the paychecks, the perks, and even their politics are constantly validated. But they're not happy.
I have a colleague who ran into a software design problem lately. He is looking at all of the apparent possible options and none of them seem like they will result in good code. He's gone on the internet to see if someone else knows the solution to the problem, with no luck. Then he's spent time to see if anyone has written any frameworks that solve this problem. While some claim to have solved the problem, a purusal of the code show the cure to be at least as bad as the the disease. What can he do?
To me, this is the same kind of problem with the same kind of result. When we first see a problem, or instinct is to go and look for a solution. We go to experts to find out what the answer is. We look at proven best practices in order to find out what we need to do. Strangely, though, the advice of the experts and the best practices often lead to situations that are at least as bad as our original problem. Why?
The reason is that we are taking an internal problem and looking for external answers. Buddha said that life is suffering. This is not to say that we should give up and have a defeatist attitude, I think. It's more that you just can't escape it: life is suffering. And code is bad. (In case you are wondering just how crazy I can be, I once gave a talk in public about how code is literally karma ;-) ).
We have to accept the suffering first (or bad code) and then start "acting skillfully". There isn't an external answer that will solve our problems. The guru on the mountain doesn't have the answer because they don't know what the question is. The carefully built system does not work for our issue, because our issue never existed when the system was built.
One of the things I've found about people pursuing social justice is that, on average, they tend to be intelligent people. The more they pursue the justice, and the more the society gives them leeway to do so, the more unhappy they get -- because they discover that their answer is not matched with the problem they are trying to solve. All of that energy has been put forward to solve the problem and they very slowly learn that they might not have the correct problem. Of course some people are always blind and they keep burning the witches, even finding new witches to burn after they run out of the first ones. However, I have found that the majority get really unhappy the farther they progress down this road.
Google has been evil from... well, depends on how you look at it, but if not from Day One, then certainly by the time they started GMail. The whole point is to maintain a vast surveillance network over as many Internet users as possible (later also mobile phone users), to try to capture as much of what they do. The use is for deeply personal and intrusive ads, but also for mass government control (NSA gets copy of everything, remember), individual government control and intervention (through subpoenas by less-secretive agencies), and gradually - the shaping of public opinion and knowledge through more and more targeted changes of search results and content recommendations. And of course - nothing is ever erased, nor will it ever be.
> To invent products like Gmail, Earth, and Translate, you need coddled geniuses free to let their minds run wild.
Google didn't invent any of this stuff. They were just able to put a lot of compute power and storage behind it before others did.
Meanwhile a smaller tech startup will pay better and give you way more of a hand in shaping the product, and maybe even not work you 80+hours a week. I'm not sure what the appeal of the big names is for devs.
Having worked both at Google and at smaller tech startups, this is pretty much the opposite of reality. I wonder where are you getting these ideas from.
Google seems to consistently low ball relative to other companies (Facebook, Apple, uber, etc.)
Obviously depends on the team/role but seems like google is trying to leverage its “prestigious brand” to pay less
Also, from what I understand they tend to lowball much more aggressively than other top companies if you don't have any strong competing offers. Levels.fyi submitters will of course be the kinds of people who tend to shop around and get competing offers.
One appeal of the big names is exactly that — name recognition. It does a lot for the ego when everyone you meet knows that your employer provides free massages and a sushi bar for lunch.
And I'm not talking about mythical exit money, I'm talking about cold hard biweekly salary. I make more money at a small startup than it seems I would make at Google, for example.
Small startups vary a lot in what they pay, and in what they can afford to pay. Mostly it's lower than FAANG pay.