I have friends in Silicon Valley who refuse to watch the show because they think it’s just making fun of them. I always tell them: “You really should watch it, because they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve.” You can believe, as I do, that tech companies really are improving life with amazing tools and also admit that sometimes, who wins and who loses is pretty arbitrary. Somebody gets an idea almost right, but not quite, and their business fails; then someone else does it just a little bit better and they are viewed as a genius for the rest of their life. The show captures that perfectly.
I have enjoyed HBO’s Silicon Valley, for the few seasons that they’ve created and it doesn’t sting me nearly as much as a few others, apparently; I can laugh wholeheartedly because so much of it is really, really true.
This is what is so great about parodies in general is that it does, in fact, take great liberties with the facts and truth and certain posits wide-sweeping generalizations and exaggerations… but it resonates because it shows, in technicolor detail, the truths that underpin them. So much of what we do in Silicon Valley is laughable, but most dreams and ambitions kind of are…
The fact that Bill Gates, of all people, penned a full article on Silicon Valley is important because so much of our technological frame of reference is from him and many other famous luminaries of his time. I also gained a lot of respect for Bill (I already had a lot!) because he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, which is an important quality to have and one that I am particularly fond of.
We deserve a lot of ridicule, both for what we do and what we don’t do. Parodies give us a chance to observe and reflect on what we see in others and, more importantly, ourselves. And if you don’t like what you see, then… you still have plenty of time to change.