Being Humble In The Silicon Valley

When I was growing up, I tended to gravitate towards the kids who were less affluent, or had problems at home like I did because I could relate to them more. I didn’t have to hide my true life from them because we had that in common and we wouldn’t judge each other.


Now that I’m older, I’m starting to think that maybe what made me gravitate towards them was that they were humble and that is what we actually had in common. A good friend of mine who is not from the Silicon Valley but lives here now, recently gave me his thoughts on the people here.


Since I was born and raised in the Silicon Valley, I was interested in an outside perspective. His view was essentially that nobody here has common courtesy. They won’t wave for you to go ahead of them at stop sign, they cut in line, they push and shove, and they act like they are trying to get everything they can for themselves. Whether that’s a faster commute home, more food at a buffet, or a better parking spot. They act entitled and don’t seem to care about strangers. People don’t even know their next door neighbors here.


One of the things like a lot about this friend and his family is that they are down to earth and humble. I’m sure they make good money even by Silicon Valley standards but they don’t get caught up in the race to act affluent or keep up with the Joneses. They are just down to earth, good people.


Again, just like my childhood, them being humble is what attracted me to them. I’ve never lived anywhere other than the west coast, so when he tells me about the way people act and treat each other where he’s from, I always listen admiringly, like listening to a story about a fantasy land.


Now, I have to admit it’s certainly not the case with everyone and while I am sure he is generalizing, he definitely touched on a nerve that I myself, as a Silicon Valley native, had been feeling.


Of course there are some humble and down to earth people here but there’s also some creedence to thinking that think the vast majority are trying to give off the impression of wealth and get so caught up in their quest for wealth, it comes at the expense of how they treat others. Since I was born and raised here, I am used to people treating each other that way. And that is sad.


There is a never ending cycle here of comparing themselves to others, consuming just enough to one up their neighbors, and making just the minimum payments in order to keep up and barely stay afloat. Perhaps the reason people don’t take the time to get to know eachother or treat strangers with courtesy is because they are so wrapped up in their own lives.


There was a recent study that found people in Silicon Valley making up to $400,000 per year consider themselves to be middle class.  I would be curious to see a study that asked these same people how many of them felt that they deserved to be middle class and not upper class.


This sentiment could be partly because anywhere else in the country or world, they would actually be upper class. It could also be because many of them have Ivy league degrees and because of those factors, they feel they are entitled to something. But in reality, that’s the type of arrogance and entitlement that is rampant in the Silicon Valley.


Titles, salary, and wealth does not entitle anyone to anything. Being humble and having courtesy for others is worth more than all of those things.


I am a minority in Silicon Valley because I was born and raised here. Most of the people here are transplants from all over the world. So the larger question I am left with is does the Silicon Valley attract these kinds of people? Or are these kinds of people created as a byproduct, when searching for wealth and success, after they’ve moved to the Silicon Valley?