Fresh-faced Stanford graduates yapping at their startups. A ruthless capitalist billionaires in their fifties. Soulful, hairy billionaires in their forties. Glutton venture capitalist. Truly liberal social media reviews. New York political candidates who do not work in technology.
What do all of these disparate characters have in common? They are all regularly called “tech bros”. A term that once mocked a particular cultural phenomenon of the Bay Area has become a universal epithet. In the process, he lost the analytical value and rhetorical punch that he once had. If the tech bros are everywhere, they are nowhere.
The brother of technology is, of course, a species in the brother kind. Generic fragility is well understood as a form of performative male camaraderie, typically involving an ostentatious commitment to partying and a slightly ironic preppy aesthetic. The brothers are the opposite of hipsters: aggressively conformist, intentionally old-fashioned, proudly loyal to institutions (be it Penn State or Deutsche Bank). With its roots in fellowship life, Brotherhood culture can include a darker undertone of misogyny, though the manual’s brother is more buffoon than threatening.
“Tech bro” was a logical adaptation of the concept, as a generation of male-dominated college graduates who previously might have sought their fortunes on Wall Street flocked to well-paying jobs in San Francisco. To many Bay Area residents, the term conjures up a specific image: a 20-year-old guy, usually white, presumably wearing a Patagonia quarter-zip fleece vest bearing the logo of his workplace in Silicon Valley. (These vests are also popular with its cousin, the finance bro.) This quintessential tech brother seems to have little interest outside of his high-paying job, Bitcoin, and possibly cycling. Callow and insensitive, he’s an irresistible target of mockery, blamed for pushing up the cost of living in San Francisco while still dampening his mind with his acquisitive lifestyle and cultural ignorance. While not necessarily sexist himself, he’s an emblem of the boys’ club culture that permeates the tech industry.
The tech meme struck a nerve in a city rocked by an influx of wealth and commerce, and in an industry where very young men had outsized influence while women felt like second-class citizens. All along, however, there was some ambiguity to this: Was the tech brother, like the finance brother, referring to the industry base – no one qualifies as Brother Lloyd Blankfein or Steven. Mnuchin – or his C-suite? The answer was both. This arrogant 24-year-old who gets drunk in the Mission could be an entry-level Facebook engineer, or he could be the founder of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, who in 2014 became the world’s youngest billionaire a few years apart. of the shipment. e-mails to his fraternal brothers at Stanford with lines like, “I hope at least six girls sucked your cock last night.” (We can see why he would keep inventing a dying message app.)
Somewhere along the line, however, the tech bro label began to be asked to do too much. It is used to poke fun at the claims of the upper crust of Silicon Valley: thus Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, a middle-aged man who has been in the bay since the Clinton administration and who is far from the stereotypical transplant. , becomes a technician when the subject is on his strange diet or world travel. It’s applied to straightforward manifestations of sexism: When Google engineer James Damore was fired for posting an internal memo suggesting that gender disparities in the workplace stem from biological differences, it was hard to find a item sure the matter who hasn’t labeled him as a tech brother (or, alternatively, a Google Bro.) Make no mistake: male dominance in the tech industry is a problem. It’s just that calling everyone a tech brother doesn’t do much to enlighten. The term is even used when the very fate of American democracy is at stake. “Don’t make social media billionaires arbiter of truth,” declared a recent opinion headline. In short, “tech bro” has become the term of choice for any tech man who deserves criticism. As the reputation of the industry crumbles more and more, it gets closer and closer to any tech man, period.