I Am A Tech Bro

Some of my friends in the tech space tend to get upset at my usage of “tech bro”, when I wield it in negative ways, showcasing some of the illnesses that exist in the space. I wanted to shine a light on my views on the phrase, how I feel about it, and why I wield it like I do. First, I have to state that I am a tech bro. I am one, and see myself as one, although it is not really as a positive thing, but it isn’t something I can’t just shed, or just say that it is good, or magically make it become something positive, even though I tend to view myself and what I do in a positive light.

I am a tech bro because I am male. I am a tech bro because I am white. I am a tech bro because I am a software architect and programmer. I am a tech bro because I have taken venture capital, and I have done startups. I am a tech bro because I have aggressive tendencies. I am a tech bro because I have tendencies to talk over people, including women. I am a tech bro because I tend to respond to swinging dick situations with an equal response. I am a tech bro because there is significant portion of society I do not see because of my privileged position, and because I am generally a pretty clueless dude, despite (and because of) me being very tuned into technology. I am a tech bro because I still get stupidly excited over (some) new technology. I am a tech bro because I still think technology will do good, even though I’ve seen it do a lot of bad things (and that is only what I see). I am a tech bro because when a VC tells me that if I have any interesting startups or ideas that they would be willing to talk more, I still get excited, even though I know better.

Sure, I’m a nice guy too! However, whether I like it or not I am tech bro. When I walk into many government meeting room I’m seen as a tech bro. When I tell a group of women, or people of color what I do for a living, I am seen as a tech bro. I have done some work to try and redeem my tech bro status, pushing back on my fellow tech bros for giving us a bad name, but it will never change the way I’m viewed entirely. It is because we have done a significant amount of damage to many other people’s world. We’ve willfully gone around disruptive people’s world, and whether it was the right or wrong to do in each situation, we are still disrupting. Just because we don’t see all the damage, and are often in denial of it, and it doesn’t make us immune from what we’ve been labeled, and that is has become something negative. I wield the term tech bro in a fight fire with fire sort of way. I know that I personally do not response to many subtle signs, and I miss many cues, so I leverage this phrase because I know if will make some of my friends stop and think, even if it pisses them off. There are a number of friends who are not bothered by my usage at all, as they see nothing wrong it.

At this point I wish I wasn’t a tech bro. I wish I could undo my upbringing and career choices, but I can’t. I have tried to think of other things that I could do for my career, but I am good at what I do. I wish all my fellow tech bros would do more good than harm, but I know that the majority of them will never change, but it doesn’t stop me from pushing back, and trying. If you are still reading my work, and find yourself bothered by my usage of this term, chances are you are my friend. Chances are you think along similar lines to me. I’m not using it in a way to say, “you over there”. I’m using it in a way that says, “hey look at how we are behaving, let’s think about how we can change it”. I don’t think tech bros are all bad, but there is a large portion of our society who do. Let’s think some more about how we can change it, and push back on some of tech bro friends and collaborators and help open their eyes, so that maybe we won’t be seen in such a negative way across the industries we are working to make change in. We are working to make change, right?