Prolonged Adolescence in Silicon Valley

9 May
Stats on Mexican Facebook users

Stats on Mexican Facebook users

Yesterday, through sheer luck and twist of fate, I ended up having lunch at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, followed by a quick tour of the ‘campus’. Strolling through the central plaza of the campus, where young people in cutoff shorts were eating ice cream cones, riding bikes, and eating at cafeterias stocked with a salad bar, pizza, and sandwiches, I was transported to my freshman year at UC Santa Cruz, which looked and felt eerily similar (even the music playing in the cafeteria, such as Incubus and Third Eye Blind, was right out of my freshman year). As a mere thirty three year old, I normally don’t feel old. I stride comfortably between the carefree abandon of the 20’s and the sweet responsibility of family and career that many experience in their thirties. And yet I was torn while walking the Facebook campus yesterday, between yearning to work in such a carefree place and being a bit put off by a such a place. A publicly traded company that does everything in its power to keep its twenty something employees in a state of prolonged adolescence?

I couldn’t help thinking of the broader connection to bro culture and the infamous Peter Pan syndrome of many San Francisco men. They are able to live a life of little responsibility, having fun all the time and never committing to a community, a home, a woman, a career. And again, I’m torn. I don’t deny that it’s an appealing lifestyle. But it’s essentially a prolonged adolescence, a state of arrested development. It ultimately bothers me because at some point in life, we must grow up. College is awesome, from ages 18 to 22, but do I really want to relive that lifestyle as a woman in her thirties? No. I am free from the responsibilities of family, as I am unmarried with no children, but I do feel a sense of responsibility to myself and my community. I realize there is more to life than having fun (though having fun and enjoying oneself is important). Serving others, being a good daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, using one’s talents for good. I think these things are the hallmark of maturity. And because I’ve wanted to be a grownup since I was about 5 years old, I look on at the extreme youth culture of Silicon Valley with some bemusement. I mostly think, grow up kids.

Having said all that, Facebook, if you ever want to hire me, give me a call!

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