Catherine Bracy on the tech sector’s obliviousness to genuine social causes and crises:
The well-documented lack of diversity in the Valley would be comical if it wasn’t so harmful. It feels like, and often is, a bunch of Stanford guys making tools to fix their own problems. . . Barely any of them start from an entrenched social problem and work backwards from there. Very few of them are really fundamentally improving society. . . They really don’t care that much about making the world a better place, mostly because they feel like they don’t have to live in it.
This isolation has also deluded them into thinking that they are in fact making the world a better place, simply by building their products and platforms. The Silicon Valley rich are famously stingy philanthropists and a defense I’ve heard more than once is that the tools they spend their time building are inherently good. “Why donate money when people can just download my app and instantly have a better life?”
This feels to me like it stems from the same phenomenon that is responsible for the tech press’s bizarre unwillingness to face up to the human tragedy that was unfolding at Foxconn and its ilk until forced to. And when one of the prime messengers of this bad news turned out to have fudged his credentials a bit, they disgorged a torrent of bile at him, obviously under the mistaken impression that we were all off the hook to enjoy their devices guiltlessly once again — just because Mike Daisey unfortunately tried to have his story pass as pure-as-snow journalism.
The tech media that I follow so closely is indeed woefully sheltered. I think most of it is quite well-intentioned socially, but Bracy is dead on that its sense of priorities is distorted. It needn’t be, considering its ability and propensity to, well, search.