Silicon Valley Bank failing has stirred a lot of hate. People desperately need an outlet for their anger.
I get it. I see your rant about how tech has failed humanity and I add my voice to it. My criticisms of VC and the tech industry aren't private or quiet.
There's some inkling, a fraying thread deep in my brain or being that resists what people are saying. Because there's a version of me that wanted to be a tech founder that I've never let escape. I was too afraid of who that person might be. I didn't have many examples to look towards, of someone like me building a company in an ethical way. Everyone I talked to said my idea was too big. I heard too big.. for someone like me.
Perception's presence distorts whether it's reality or reality's reflection.
"Go start your own business", they say. Yet no one offered real tangible support. I could pay to go to women business retreats or pay to be a member, even though I didn't have revenue or a clear plan to be profitable. I could consider a business coach even though I suspected I'd just be ripped off. Life didn't teach me how to ask others for help. I don't view others as an opportunity or a source of support. I don't prioritize my business. Most of the time I'm too uncomfortable to even talk about having a business. It's like I'm allergic to centering myself or being "successful" or both. Advocating for my community feels much more comfortable than advocating for myself. So I've been on my own. Just like I'm on my own as an immunocompromised person during an uncontrolled pandemic.
It's hard not to associate my business with the pandemic. I started my company 3 years ago, February 2020. I have little to nothing to show of it. My whole life and relationships fell apart in that time. Did I ever have hope or was I just throwing shit at a wall? Did I grow as a human? I don't even know. The pain in me is shaky and suppressed. I don't have the energy for it. Twists of confusion. Did I fail or never try? Is it because of my identity or because of me? I shift between roles and stories and questions.
Being human means never knowing the true quality of your decisions and the role of luck.
You still need to douse yourself in pseudo-control and certainty, because your brain and everybody else's craves it. It doesn't matter if your confidence or competence is false. Unless your identity violates other people's expectations about your allocated control. Then you absorb their stress, either through visibility or hiding. Over and over again.
I tell myself I'm on the precipice of quitting but it's more accurate to say I gave up a long time ago. Burnt out from a contract, tired of fighting the benefits system or begging for grant money I'd never receive. Disclosing I'm autistic only for that to backfire. Knowing an external sign wouldn't be enough for me to believe in me anyways.
How do you put something out into a messed up world and pray it won't do harm?
People don't take risks without a community backing them. My community doesn't have the energy or resources to elevate our own. And when we do, why should it be me? I wouldn't bet on me anymore. My dreams and sense of self corroded under the rust of severe isolation and abandonment. With a probable sprinkling of unknown post Covid brain and energy issues. How many are out there like me?
Millions. We number in the millions.
Isn't that why we rant? Because most of us aren't given resources to see our ideas blossom.
Because most of us are fighting for basic needs. Of course we will resent the few who get an unbridled chance: millions in funding to grow their vision. Why them? Why me? Why not you?
The failed founders and failed ideas that never got to fail because there was no support given in the first place. People who experienced true problems and saw solutions. People who fought until the stress wore them down and pushed them out of the industry. Like most women engineers leaving mid career because of discrimination and harassment. Like successful women founders still having a harder time raising investment than unproven men. The statistics worsen exponentially for each and every marginalized identity you have.
The loss is invisible until it's your story.
Being a statistic is tiring. Worrying about the price of eggs is exhausting. We are all worn out but we are collectively avoiding the deeper reasons why. If we confronted them, we would each need to take responsibility even if the fault is not ours.
Founders worried about payroll is not relatable. And relatable is our currency. Isn't it?
There's no bailouts for inauthenticity. Tech companies and founders are guilty.
People want software for free now, because we need software to be free now. Business models push towards forever rent: SaaS is the healthiest model for the company. B2B SaaS, business to business, is the business model that works best for self-funded companies. VC relies on 10x hyper-growth and 90% of companies failing. It's more of a valuation scheme: beef up those traction metrics, collect as many users as possible. CAC to LTV: customer acquisition cost to lifetime value. How much can you make off from how many people, with what growth rate? It's not even the fun kind of math, it's not complicated.
Almost all of us are being squeezed by that math, so we learn to hate those who are squeezed a little less.
Consumer software needs to be essential or entertaining to be part of people's subscriptions, to be part of people's rent amid rising inflation. Or software is free and steals attention which means it must manipulate a person's emotions and energy. It has to brew conflict and reactivity. It has to make people creators and consumers, tied to endless scrolling and ads.
My Tiktok ads are mostly cat litter and IUDs. I don't own a cat. The 1 time I had an IUD, after the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision.. it was so painful I had it removed after only 2 months. I'm not being targeted, I'm just being confused.
If you want to avoid ads? If you're looking to build something and fight inequity? Even an additional $5 or $10 a month is a burden for people with the greatest needs. Markets don't solve human needs, in the present or future. Markets make up needs and sell them to people with funds.
We are sold expensive make believe needs to bury our real ones.
We produce and consume, connection and community are commoditized. Especially for those of us who are excluded from the offline world. Our chronically online status becomes a dismissive joke.
Markets won't solve my isolation, because markets don't solve pandemics. Markets and profits are built on pandemic denial and minimizing. But still I water the lie within me that says I could build something. I could build something that let's me live more than just in my house. I could build something that helps with low harm. Maybe I could be a healthy leader and creator, maybe I could create a healthy product.
Then I see video after video, tweet after tweet, of hatred at tech founders. And I internalize it yet again. I remember all the founders who were terrible to me, whether I was working with or for them. Or dating them. Thank God I only dated one. Internalized hatred and fear of what I truly want to be crystallizes my bitter loneliness and stagnancy.
I think maybe being a founder is like being a cop, all of them are bad. Maybe I should let that dream die. It feels like one more loss in a series of losses. I am not a strong focused person with a clear vision. I am lost and crumbly and uncertain. I am not one of them, I am one of us. Or I'm just me. Depends on the day, on the moment, on whatever is consuming me and my attention.
Tech distraction has cannibalized it's own creators and builders.
I clear the notifications on the founder inside me. You will not build that. You will not be that. Don't you want to be liked and accepted? Why would you add one more aspect to your identity that invites hate?
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Oscillations piece, Nucleation Invitation Collection 2022. Bright and colorful picture of 2 eyes over 2 hands with overlapping wrists. 2 hands, dark and slightly rainbow-ed. They cross at the wrist. On the left side the fingers are outstretched. Words on hand are "can I can will I will do I do am I am". Lots of thin rings. Long pointed speckled nails. Right hand fingers are curled, with short black nails. There's a heavy chain, every other link has a "n't". For can't, won't, don't, aren't. The opposites of the other hand. Between the two hands is a large leaf bracelet, with overlapping curls, half a rainbow feather, and lots of tiny leaves. Above each hand is an eye. Both have red pupils and blue irises, with yellow lids. Accents of green, purple, and pink. The left side eye has a large hood with a tree on it, and roots underneath that connect to the wrist. It looks demure, with curls on the end. The right eye is more open with an oval pupil/iris. The eyelashes are thin and split at the end. Large triangles come out of the lower right side of the eye. Above the inside corner is a geometric line design in a triangle shape. Underneath, different sized circular shapes filled with blue dots connect to the right wrist. Background is paint splatters with tiny dots.