It’s time to build, yes. But it’s also time to leave.
The battle over tech’s supremacy has been waged and all of our premonitions came true: We wanted flying cars and got vertical take-off innovation hubs from every car maker in America. Software has not only eaten the world, but feasted on your screen-weary eyes. It has swallowed your children, your church, your bank, and your politics, and somehow it all feels inevitable. That these feats of human progress—of instant connectivity in a now homebound world—became the scapegoat of our time is another symptom of the era’s end, cueing the quiet exodus of builders who had bigger aspirations than the same-day shipping that keeps our households afloat.
Now, Silicon Valley is witnessing a reckoning, but it’s not the long-awaited one predicted by the New York press, or the antitrust bonanza that Washington longs for because too many people seem satisfied getting their news from Facebook. The reckoning is more of a realization that tech exceeded expectations and somehow squandered the fruit of its own garden, and that a city on a hill that could have supported so much innovation was not Florence in the Renaissance nor the Athenian Academy with MacBooks. Rather, it became a government-sponsored needle exchange, a haven for the homeless and forgotten that put government’s paralysis on display downtown on Market Street.
2020 is not the great reckoning predicted in the book of Revelation, despite the fires, the plagues, and the wailing on Twitter. It is the resignation and determination of Exodus, of a dogged people packing up U-Hauls and fleeing this frontier state to seek an even newer, more eternal world.
San Francisco had four times as many deaths from overdose this year as it did from the COVID-19 virus.