Tech Workers Aren’t Always What They Seem to Be

The large, unmarked "tech bus" drives through a neighborhood in San Francisco. Tech buses have become symbols of the tech invasion in the city. (Photo courtesy of Don Barret/Flickr.com)
The large, unmarked “tech bus” drives through a neighborhood in San Francisco. Tech buses have become symbols of the tech invasion in the city. (Photo courtesy of Don Barret/Flickr.com)

By John Morrison

Over the past five years, the second tech boom has remade the face of San Francisco at the expense of the long-time social fabric that made my childhood city home. The pace of change from this economic boom has required many native San Franciscans and recent arrivals to make tremendous sacrifice to pursue their dreams.

One such sacrifice has been taking a job in the tech industry.

Last fall, I was lucky enough to accept an offer to work for a tech company.  I had just returned home to San Francisco to explore a career in journalism, but I also needed to provide for myself during this exploration.

I began working in tech while also registering for a spring semester journalism class at City College. With these competing desires, I soon found myself being pulled into two different parts of San Francisco.

Each day I step off the Balboa Park station, and I head to class, I enter a world where working class San Franciscans are putting in hard hours at community college to advance in life. Much like these people, I go to class so I can one day pursue a new path. For me, that is one dedicated to uncovering the truth in support freedom and justice.

Each day I also step off the 16th and Mission station, and I walk to my job at a small tech startup. I enter another world where San Francisco’s tech culture is always on display.

Sometimes, it’s a world dominated by privilege, affluence and contrarian arrogance. Yet, outside of the few grand success stories, I mostly encounter other young people working in tech until they figure out how to do what they enjoy.

 Not all tech workers are part of the privileged class. The fluid movement between working class SF and the SF tech scene is a part of everyday life for me.

It’s become a necessity for many of the young tech workers who not only have the skills available to get a job but also have dreams of pursuing a life of meaning while surviving in a city strained by its extreme economic success.

The second tech boom has created a massive gap between the successful and the marginalized, and even many of those in working tech are struggling to survive in a city on the brink. It may seem trivial in comparison to the social justice issues one encounters by taking a walk down Market Street where the extent of the social justice crises in San Francisco is on display:housing, homelessness, inequality, etc.

However, the struggle of a young tech worker finding his or her place in the world is very real. My experience as a tech worker working to survive while taking classes to pursue a career in journalism is one example.  

Although challenging, it also has given me a glimpse into the root of the problems in San Francisco. The difficulty is using this experience of two seemingly disparate San Francisco experiences to help those San Franciscans who need it the most. 


Contact the reporter John Morrison