Crushing Dispatches from Inside the Silicon Valley Culture Bubble

Quora can be a place to discuss race relations, poorly. Quora can be a place to explain your company's position in the eternal geo-political battle between good and evil. Or it can be a cry for help: "I'm pretty sure my reality is stuck in a bubble of tech startup culture."

It's a simple question from a Valley denizen—"What are some things I'd be shocked to learn about the outside world?" It's probably, bleak as it is, an earnest one. The answers are a buffet of what we already know to be true: these people are living under a plexiglass of dome filled with cash, fantasy ideas, and delusion.

A selection of "shocking" facts about the world beyond Palo Alto—this is how the rest of us live:

  • Most of the world needs solutions to problems we rarely talk about, in areas like health care, agricultural production, sustainable construction, citizen activism and empowerment, childhood education, affordable transportation, supply chain optimization, community solidarity and efficacy, etc.
  • There's a whole range of perspectives that go underrepresented in Silicon Valley. There are a lot of women out there. Older folks.
  • That when you say you worked 80 hours this week, most people will think you are a workaholic. Not realizing that was a short week.
  • That most people spend all day at work trying to get home to their families, and friends, and don't consider sleeping at the office a night well spent.
  • A lot of people can wear shorts in temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I knew that our weather is fantastic and that other weather has extremes. But I was shocked that our idea of a winter day in late February is beach weather to most people.
  • People can and do separate their lives from their work. Until I visited a friend whose parents watched TV with us after coming back from their day at work, I did not think it strange that my parents are expected to work so much at home.
  • Houses that cost over $1 million are rare, even in other wealthy countries.
  • Even elsewhere in the United States from the bay area, unless you're in a big city, don't be surprised to see people using older flip phones and PC's. They remain far more economically sensible for most people. Still, I think the biggest difference to be seen is abroad.

Finally, a fellow named Rich Rogers steps in with something that might genuinely shock the startup sensibility:

You are part of the vanguard of a segment of society that is generating massive wealth for a small group of people while putting in place a culture that has led to the greatest increase in energy consumption in the history of the world—with the possible exception of the automobile.

Another Quora-er echoes:

Most humans belong to one of a few main cults other than the VC cult. That one's actually pretty tiny by comparison to some of the big ones, pretty much localized to a few big cities (SF/Valley in particular), and pretty much unknown to most of the wider population except as the stuff of the occasional wild-eyed myth.

It's not all self-delusion under the dome.

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