I Feel Like Part of the Problem

In San Francisco now, I no longer feel like a useful, contributing member of The City’s social or cultural scene. Merely by virtue of being “a developer”, I feel like I’ve become Part Of the Problem.

I sure as hell try not to be. I try to encourage the arts; I try to defend and promote nightlife and clubs; I try to encourage affordable housing. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve tried to explain to other laissez-faire, “the free market will fix everything!” types why just building “housing” (i.e., market-rate housing) in San Francisco right now means “building housing for millionaires and multi-millionaires”, housing that people making less than, say, $200,000 a year cannot possibly afford.

But when a dear, beloved friend tweets: “Had one of those little things happen today that upped my feeling of “threat level” and need to bug the F out of SF.”, I don’t just feel the need to respond with “Do you want to talk about it?” or “Is there anything I can do to help?”

I also feel the need to say: “I’m sorry.”

Not just in the sense of “I’m sorry to hear that a bad thing happened to you today,” but in the sense of “I feel like I’m personally partly to blame for this, and I am sorry about that.”

Because I’m a developer. I’m not part of startup culture, thank Goddess — I bailed out of that toxic mess of sexism, overwork, and self-delusion five years ago, and haven’t looked back. But I am still part of “high tech” culture, to some degree.

And despite my efforts to improve it, I’m sick and tired of being associated with it.

I’m not about to change careers, of course. For one, I have a dependent; I can’t just chuck everything and take months to retrain myself (in what, anyway?) and do a career-shift. And for two, I don’t want to cede the field to the kind of brosephs and entitleist assholes who are making “developer” a dirty word in places from San Francisco to Hamilton, Ontario. Better that I stay and fight to make high-tech and software development be the forward-looking, inclusive, diverse kind of field I want it to be.

I just don’t feel like it’s working, right now.

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