Sipping my zin’ on cheat day, I sit down to watch the blood, guts, swords and nakedness in “Game of Thrones.” It all seems fantastical until “Silicon Valley” comes on. In each episode, I feel like I am reliving several moments of my life in tech, and it’s not that funny. Our world is so over the top.
I can’t help but think to myself: How many informants does HBO have within my network? Recently, I made my best friend watch an episode about a party that she planned in real life and I attended. Last year, I worked for a startup where stock in the company was a little wonky, like Pied Piper. I am dating a coder who kind of looks like Richard. I feel like I am in the show, watching the last couple years in San Francisco on-screen.
Sometimes it’s funny, but sometimes it gets weird. My friend was just being recruited hardcore (iOS engineer) and was sent nice things like wine and cupcake-making kits. I guess they stalked his Instagrams of donuts and other confections and took note. Wild but true.
To think that there are millions (yes, millions) of people that watch the show feels intrusive. When I tell outsiders I work in tech in San Francisco, there is always the comment: “like the show Silicon Valley?” I can’t help but answer, “Yes, it is like the show,” while thinking to myself how awkward and uncomfortable I feel with being associated so closely with it.
I can trace the content back to various VCs, startups and people I know personally. It makes me a little paranoid, and I feel the need for privacy even more. You never know when people are listening, and it makes networking difficult. Who can I tell what? How do I build rapport without drawing from personal experiences? How do I maintain authenticity if I’m afraid to reveal some of my cards?
I wrote an article about two years ago pertaining to the content overload on Medium, where every other article is some tech CEO ranting about why he built a product, what his team culture is like and why you should listen to him. It’s too much for me to read every single one, as I constantly feel like I should be contributing at the same level. But I got burnt out on the content overload, and took several steps out of the writing limelight.
So what does this have to do with “Silicon Valley?”
I can’t get through an episode without feeling super uncomfortable because I’ve lived it. The good, bad and ugly are right in my face, and I can’t move on. I am constantly reminded of a world that I have a complicated relationship with. It’s like having people I’ve dated parading through my inbox. It may not be so much public sentiment but a private lull in excitement. People laugh at the stupidity and misfortune of people I know being reflected in the show.
Why do I feel so damn uncomfortable?
• It makes my small world even smaller.
• Situations that break companies and cause people to lose jobs/equity are made to look anecdotal and easily resolvable.
• Women are downplayed and made awkward in the show.
Who am I in HBO’s “Silicon Valley?” Just a booth babe who gets men to write my code — right? Look at what happened when shit got really real at The Crunchies this year. T.J. Miller hosted to only trivialize our existence off-screen as well, most notably by picking on a woman. Like it isn’t hard enough? We as women are trying to ditch the stereotypes that we live with everyday, by showing up and pushing haters aside.
Don’t get me wrong, most people love the show. It’s funny, stupid and strangely relatable. But for me, I think it is it’s too close for comfort.
With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.