Just Say No To Gods

Silicon Valley and the tech industry in general has a god problem. This is a short post on how we can even begin to fix it: just say no to any and all tech industry gods. Take what’s good, but refuse to accept that “this person alone…”

If you see something wrong, speak up. Do not be afraid of any god of Silicon Valley, as they may not exist, anymore.

One of the proudest moments in my life was when Scoble followed me on Twitter a long time ago. I felt, wow, that is an opportunity to break through from the pack. He was a god…

Imagine growing up as a young kid in the bustling urban city of New Delhi, India, where your parents are barely able to make ends meet, but still ensure you have a happy childhood.

They put you through a good school, plan the annual-but-memorable-for-a-lifetime trip to nearby towns, with a lot of fun times with family and friends. All in all — you have it good.

You are looking forward to an exciting future ahead. But there is competition for scarce resources up ahead. You need to get into the best colleges in order to have a shot at a better life ahead.

There is no god who can refer you; no amount of praying or worshipping at someone’s altar will help. You just have to study really hard and build out your profile and skills, yourself, there is no other way.

Fortunately, the system is this way, merit-based. Whether you are in the US, China or India or elsewhere, a similar, merits-based approach plays out.

If this system was based on “gods”, established people who could refer you, to give you that edge compared to others, then such a system would be prone to abuse.

That is exactly the predicament Silicon Valley is in right now. Because some people developed “weight”, and god-like status in the valley, that system allowed a few of them to turn into monsters.

They thought they were invincible, in a valley where “who can refer you” is the #1 guiding principle. If you didn’t play well by the gods, your chance at the next interview, next job opportunity, funding for your venture — and in turn your dreams and ambitions — were held hostage.

What is shocking is that a lot of these abuses happened in front of other people — who didn’t speak up either, as presumably, they too feared the gods.

A few god-turned-monsters have gotten away with apology blog posts. If they were black, brown, an immigrant or a refugee, and were not gods, they would have gone to jail, or even deported.

All those groups don’t get to write long “I am sorry. I should have..” notes on Facebook/Medium, cross-posted on Twitter, and call it a day. No, their lives get turned upside down, they lose their jobs, sources of livelihood and struggle through in prison and whatever comes after it.

But for tech gods who have been accused of sexual harassment, fate plays out differently and more softly. Why ?

Unless how the system works is changed, there will be more such gods. If enough is enough, and I hope it is, after the brave posts of many women who have come forward, then lets strive towards a 100 percent merit-based system towards all aspects of work and opportunities.

We see where individual human biases of “people in power” don’t have sufficient power to strongly influence a person’s career. While that will take a long time to develop and for us to reach that goal, we have to start preventing the conditions to exist for “gods” to thrive.

Lets be in transactional-relationships with people who offer good thoughts/leadership/advice, or lets just call it X — absorb what is good, but don’t let that become a sense of “anything this person says or does is fantastic”, and that “this person alone can do this for me”.

Just say no to gods, and lets just enjoy being human — where everyone is equal in every respect. What only differentiates is the individual transaction activity: a good blog post, a past success and lessons learned, etc.

Take the good but lets stop worshipping and making the Scobles and McClures of the world. They have hurt certain individuals, let us down, and made the whole ecosystem worse for everybody.

We, you and me, anonymous readers and supporters are the ones who gave the power to these people, who then exploited it with others who happened to cross their paths.

Lets take that away from them and lets at least try to not worship anyone anymore. There can’t be any more gods in Silicon Valley and in the tech industry in general. No more “this developer alone..”, “this blogger alone…”, “this investor alone…”. No.

In a free and fair world — everything needs to be transactional and merit-based. We don’t need gods in the tech industry to decide anyone’s fate.

Thoughts ? Does this make sense ? What am I missing ?

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