Silicon Valley is leading with its chin again. Besides sexism (See Blog 7/25/12) and anti-union labor practices (See Blog 2/12/12), ageism is another charge to be added to the list of complaints.
Noam Scheiber’s article, “Over the Hill in Silicon Valley,” exposes the frat house mentality that dominates the industry. (The New Republic, April 2014, pg. 21-27) Anyone over the age of 32 is considered a has-been, not only because a person of that age is deemed to be less creative than someone in his twenties but also because being thirty-something doesn’t fit into the culture. One 22 year-old team leader admitted he found it difficult to manage someone twice his age and didn’t want to work with people who thought like his parents. (Ibid pg. 25)
This youthful prejudice about who’s creative flies in the faceof facts. People in their 30s are responsible for much of the innovation taking place across the country with a 30% contribution coming from those in their forties. People in their fifties rank the same as those in their early twenties, about 14%. (Ibid pg. 27)
The quality of innovation comes into play, as well. Elon Musk, in his mid-forties, is responsible for Tesla, the electronic car, and SpaceX, a commercial venture into the cosmos. In contrast, twenty-somethings are churning out computer games like Angry Birds.
If entertainment is the sole objective of electronic innovation, then perhaps society should turn a blind eye to youthful arrogance. If not, it’s time for Silicon Valley to grow up. Creative ideas come at any age and what’s considered useful depends upon what you value. At forty-seven, Christian Barnard, cardiac surgeon, developed the procedure for heart transplants and is responsible for saving countless numbers of lives as a result.
In 2007, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook told a Stanford audience that, “Young people are just smarter.” (Ibid pg. 21) He turns thirty on May 14. I look forward to welcoming him to the old fogies club.
(Courtesy of thelocalbrand.com)