Cupertino youth spoonfed corporate propaganda and taught to not see economic class structure

Neil McClintick

Just two years ago, I was a part of a cutthroat network of overly competitive, judgemental machines, the resultant culture of which forced me into a self-destructive mindset of inadequacy and depression. These institutions are what locals might refer to as Cupertino ‘Tino’ High, Lynbrook, or Monta Vista High, where unbelievably high academic standards force bright youth into a tunnel vision, bereft of any understanding of economic privilege or corporate responsibility.

When Apple distributes free products like candy to grade schoolers, more or less resembling a drug dealer trying to get children hooked early on, the culture becomes so emphatically imbued by a dreamy longing not only to own these products, but to go onward and invent them. Yet, when the median income of Cupertino is roughly twice that of San Jose’s ($135,000 vs $77,000), class is practically slashed from the mainstream consciousness, along with any desire to use a specialization in STEM to better the lives of those most socioeconomically challenged.

The ubiquitous pressures among Cupertino youth cause many to become fixated on getting that dream tech internship, so that they can acquire the skills and social capital needed to swim in the Bay’s deep-end.

Graphic by Neil McClintick

I’m not asking anyone to give up their dreams (or maybe their parents’ dreams) involving the same major, internships, interests as half of my high school graduating class which inevitably result in an impressive resume and six-figure bank.

But when Cupertino youth map out their 10-step plans, they almost never consider the social and ethical responsibilities that local corporations owe to all of us, let alone how tech companies were able to accumulate so much wealth and prestige in such a short period of time.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, gets rich on their own — not Mark Zuckerberg, nor Bill Gates. The process requires roads built by construction and maintenance workers, services provided by cafeteria workers and janitors paid an unlivable wage, and underfunded public school systems that inevitably feed into the tech company labor force, while ironically being strangled by the effects of corporate tax avoidance.

Most of us remember the devastating San Jose flood just a few months ago; it ravaged homes, displacing hundreds and racked up an unbelievable $50 million in private property damage, with another whopping $23 million in public infrastructural costs. Yet, when San Jose flood victims, which is self-described as the “heart of Silicon Valley,” needed financial support, large tech corporations like Facebook, Google, and Apple did not step up to the plate. Even Wells Fargo and Comcast, who constantly make headlines for their corporate misanthropy, chipped in here and there.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, gets rich on their own

Cupertino youth are completely disconnected from the tech boom’s massive externalities. Just a year ago, many of you were on the front lines of social media, eagerly reposting Bernie Sanders disapprovingly wagging his finger while denouncing the wealth and recklessness of Wall Street with great furor. Yet, many of you will equally bend over backwards to fit the image of a multi-millionaire tech executive making 500 times as much as the servant class of which the entire system rests upon.

Often, areas like Cupertino will teach you the oldest fake-news in the book — that techno-economic advances and societal progress are somehow one and the same. Take one walk down East San Jose or even just listen to a batch of stories from De Anza College students, who on average have half the income of Cupertino residents, and it is clear that while tech companies are bathing in billions of dollars in profit, the rising tide that lifts all can’t be found.

And while the Santa Clara County public transit is forced to raise prices on a ridership that is 67 percent low-income because of a $22 million deficit, multiple tech corporations have enough money to run their own private bus systems all throughout the area.

The list goes on and on.

Cupertino youth must become more receptive to the presence of class differences in the Bay Area and disconnect from the matrix of prestige-obsessed sociopathy, because they will one day be sitting in those executive chairs, with the power to decide whether or not technology actually becomes a rising tide for all.