Reflecting on the past year, I am learning more about my city than ever before. I’ve talked about our privilege, our bubble and how it compares to the world outside of us. My aunt, who’s only experience with tech is her nephew working at Uber, has seen the rise and fall and then the rise again of San Francisco. When she lived here 30 years ago, she and my uncle paid $192 for a two-bedroom apartment in Twin Peaks. While a far cry from the thousands of dollars we spend a month in rent, her perspective reminded me about the common theme that has run through my articles of 2016.
I have access, but do not acquire much of anything. Over the past three years of living here, my biggest purchase was my computer. It is damn near impossible to acquire a car, house or anything that doesn’t fit in my studio apartment. Instead of acquiring these things in my life, I have lived off of the shared economy of Airbnbs to throw parties and Getaround to literally get out of town or do a Costco run. Frankly, I do not need to acquire anything. With all of the perks of the tech industry, I now don’t even need a computer.
Imagine a world where we actually had to acquire things. Living here, I would be even more broke than I already am. That is why we are inherently different from our older generations. I do not want to collect, buy or need to own too many things. I want to use Google sheets, store my photos in iCloud and never need to use a DVD ever again. While I am spoiled with the amount of access I have, I am not spoiled with things.
I am, though, spoiled with access. I am able to travel unfettered, with just a small suitcase. We have access to experiences that many do not, from sailing to hiking to working remotely and getting equity at our companies. As mentioned in a prior article, we have access to insanely smart people. We don’t always need to buy books to learn. We can ask smart people questions and possibly work for them. Maybe that is why so much talent is rampant in San Francisco. We have more access to information and do more with it.
My aunt, on the other hand, lives a very different lifestyle. She doesn’t live in San Francisco anymore, but a suburb outside of Sacramento. Without our kind of access, it would make sense that she has to acquire more to makeup for it. I can’t imagine this world, until I go to my parents’ house that still has cable, requires you to drive to get anywhere and is stocked up on food. I don’t even have the cabinet space in my kitchen for a box of Frosted Flakes. But I do have Prime now to order wool socks and earplugs (both things I need right now).
But that is enough … on to the new year. Today is the day we are reminded to make ourselves better. While we may have the access to rise above the rest of the country, we don’t share enough. We spend so much time trying to optimize our lives that we don’t look around enough to see where we can close the gap. I make an effort by actively teaching my dad Google Drive or mentoring my friends in the Midwest. I am sharing my access because I feel like it is the right thing to do. Maybe if I didn’t spend the time, I would have an extra hour of sleep, work or personal hobbies.
But if you find a way to make it work, it will. That is the exciting part about moving on to the next year of my life; I can continually use my access to be the best I can be.
With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.