Tech is becoming very competitive, aggressive and toxic. Are we responsible?

Sep 20, 2019 399 Comments

News about fb employee committing suicide is really sad and reading comments in other threads are unsettling. We still don't know what was the reason but bad WLB could be one.

Tech wasn't like this until few years back. Engineers were often content with their jobs and there wasn't a need to pull teamates down to grow in career. Also the interview process has become a game and even if you are a good engineer, you still have to leetcode for months to crack interviews. Are we as tech community responsible for this ? We are so focused on getting higher TC and titles that we don't care about how it's adversely affecting us.

What can we do as a community to make it better? Any ideas on how interviewing process can be made better?


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TOP 399 Comments
  • LinkedIn / Eng

    LinkedIn Eng

    I think it is the society in Bay Area. I cannot speak for Austin, Seattle or NY, but the set of people who live here are very specific. I am an immigrant myself, but I feel that a lot of people from certain regions are here who are very competitive, egocentric and unsocial - otherwise they won’t be here (rich family, good school, connections —>USA). The people don’t see the value in free schools (higher tax for the rich) and at work team mates are treated as enemies and it looks like a popularity contest.
    Sep 20, 2019 17
    • LinkedIn ugsebkidv
      I am also looking at the possibility of someday leaving Bay Area. It’s a hard proposition though since my SO is from here and has family and friends here. It’s hard for me to see a future here signing up to pay for an expensive mortgage on a shitbox house so I can go to my frustrating job. What’s the purpose of any of it at that point. I make decent TC now but idk if I will forever and hence can afford a mortgage today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.
      Oct 7, 2019
    • T-Mobile OneT
      It's not just tech but the old saying, ' squeaky wheel gets the grease'....everyone is watching out for their backsides including one has time of motivation to look after the guy who is shy or doesn't promotes his/her work....should it be different? Sure that would be great and so would be a world with no inequalities... probably ain't gonna happen because people are greedy and selfish....maybe once we have universal income and people work for intellectual satisfaction instead of money.....
      Oct 16, 2019
  • Intel D’s🥜
    Only you can affect change. Be conscious of how you speak at the workplace. Battle the details of the issues & problems, not the person. Lift people up and don’t tear them down
    Sep 20, 2019 4
    • Amazon / Eng KHCr70
      I did this as an L4. Pushed hard for wlb, talked to team members, forwarded concerns anonymously to management.

      Also I think a big one was talking to new hires and especially new grads on the team that they shouldn't work overtime every day.

      Always pushing for addressing tech debt and ops load reduction also helps a lot.

      Biggest factor was having a manager that supported that and encouraged the behavior.

      I am sure the same behavior would have gotten me dev planned by some managers :)
      Oct 6, 2019
    • Amazon / Eng KHCr70
      Edit: fwded concerns anonymously with teams permission**
      Oct 6, 2019
  • Google Mr. Glass
    This is actually symptomatic of our current generation. When you never had to face real hunger or danger or risk to basic necessities, you stop valuing them and start taking it for granted. There will come a time when we will see bad upbringing lead to tragic cases such as where an idiot would decide to take their own life because they couldn’t afford to upgrade their car to the newer shinier latest fad of the year.

    This generation is the most pampered, irresponsible, arrogant and idiot generation from the bunch of them all. This is why people have no other personality than getting entitled and being sanctimonious little outraged Marxist brats - outraged at imagined-inequalities.

    You idiots need to live in a lawless land for a month where you have to fear for your life daily, then you’ll appreciate the hierarchical structures that we have in society today and start to feel grateful. That’s the cure. That’s what needs to happen to get these idiots to learn some perspective and stop cribbing about every small thing - and then have the audacity (!) to claim that your little office politics is just as bad as genocide, concentration camps and the Cold War that the previous generations had to face. Jesus Christ
    Oct 6, 2019 34
    • Google Mr. Glass
      ^ wrong. The only thing this generation withstood is a dramatic fear-mongering campaign where where less than 0.0001% of people were affected. The statement I made about the mentality and psychological changes in this generation compared to those before still stands true. Reflect on it more and you will see. The notion of personal responsibility which is crucial to living a fuller life, is deteriorating. I’m just proposing we acknowledge it and fix it before it’s too late. Nothing controversial at all in that statement. And I’m not interested in your stupid one-upmanship game. Think of the larger goal here.
      Nov 2, 2019
    • Google AC/TC
      - Calls other people's opinions "stupid one-upmanship game"
      - Provides no evidence that his opinion are correct other than his feelings
      - Ignores contrary evidence

      Ok boomer
      Nov 2, 2019
  • Microsoft iamletired
    I'm fairly certain people don't kill themselves over a bad review or bad management. It could be the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back, but there was an underlying issue. And if not this, it would be something else. Don't trivialize mental illness with these silky theories.
    Oct 6, 2019 17
    • Facebook Atyo
      Othi30, if you are waiting for God's judgement, the joke's on you.
      Oct 7, 2019
    • Intuit / Eng STFUorGTFO
      Othi30, well said...
      Oct 7, 2019
  • Yahoo wth3
    Didn’t read through all the comments and I will risk saying something that could be censored by Blind: it’s the immigrants’ work mentality that contributes to this toxicity—boasting at meetings, working overtime on weekends, purchasing after shiny work that gets visibility instead of real work, work hierarchy, putting down lower ranked coworkers and no one says anything to fight this bullying...when I complain to a coworker about this he/she often says “oh it’s worse back home. This is already better”. Sure we need diversity but we don’t need this third world crap
    Oct 7, 2019 13
    • The people in Silicon Valley are the cause of the toxic problem
      Oct 9, 2019
    • Bloomberg cg_ny
      I mean I don’t disagree, but they often have worse soft skills (communication, confidence etc.) so it all evens out, even if they work a lot more
      Oct 15, 2019
  • Tech used to be full of interesting sincere libertarian minded people. Now it’s pure Wall Street backstabbing politics
    Oct 6, 2019 7
    • Google / Eng lolol7
      yep nailed it. well said. happened in dot com boom too. after the crash all the a-holes cleared out of sf and became awesome for a while. now, the city/culture are very sick. perhaps another cleansing will come soon.
      Oct 8, 2019
    • Google Mr. Glass
      Bingo, you got it. I’ll add a bit: Tech motto in the 2020s: “I’ll build you a surveillance state apparatus for the highest bidder and go around with self-delusion yapping that my mission in life is to advance justice and goodness for the world, and my product really is a force for good.“
      Oct 19, 2019
  • Disney prbablybob
    Look toward your bubble 10x guy
    Sep 20, 2019 0
  • Google rUSY74
    There have always been companies with poisonous cultures. Within companies, there have always been teams with poisonous cultures.

    Don't put up with it. As soon as you're aware that you are in such a team or company: GTFO. Right away.

    I know that Bezos thinks engineers are fungible: I will never work at Amazon.

    Facebook has broken my trust on privacy a dozen times too many. Those ethical compromises come from the top. I will never work at FB either.

    I wouldn't have worked at Gate's or Ballmer's Microsoft, but I will work for Nadella's Microsoft (being careful about the specific manager).

    I will work at Google (obviously) but I'm keeping an eye on executives that might create poisonous problems. Very happy with TK replacing Diane Greene.
    Oct 6, 2019 8
    • Salesforce kVfz47
      What’s wrong with Diane?
      Oct 8, 2019
    • Facebook ris
      What are concrete examples of policies at google that make engineers feel less fungible? At FB, I do not feel secure.
      Oct 9, 2019
  • Microsoft bbobd
    To be honest, it has to be the company rewarding system to blame. If there’s no stack ranking, why anyone wants to make coworker enemies.

    The management based on fear is disgusting and manipulative. Everyone should be able to decide if they want to “take a step further” or not. I won’t join a company saying we only hire rock star blahblah. That’s a red flag of unnecessary and endless pushing limits.

    Common, it’s just a job at the end of day, no one is giving me 51% of company share, no one will take care of my family when I’m devoting myself to the “family”, and no one will blink twice when they had to trim some fat.

    I think that the industry is very young is also a reason. New grads are still fooled by company’s mission, free food after 7pm, and “changing millions of people’s life”. The reality is you’ll have to have substantial amount of stock to be bonded to a company’s future and mission, your time is more valuable than the catering food, and no, the feature you spent entire quarter of sleepless nights didn’t change people’s life more than a few more clicks in your company’s app.
    Oct 5, 2019 3
    • NVIDIA vnnP31
      To be fair, your manager will blink and feel bad about it if decent and you haven't made enemies of them, but they can't and won't help if their hands are forced from above. If it bothered them so much they would quit over your sake, you're lucky but then both of you will have to find new jobs anyway. The best you can hope for is straight talk from your manager and that they would do what they can to help you in that case. If you don't have such a management, do yourself a favor by jumping around until you find someone decent to work for.
      Oct 7, 2019
    • Intuit / Eng STFUorGTFO
      Oct 7, 2019
  • Google / Eng chandu_
    I believe this happens when TC chasers find an opportunity in the market and exploit it. Like Indians abusing the green card system.
    Sep 23, 2019 5
    • Nokia IFKG33
      Do you mean Indians are abusing the GC system by being H1B slaves for 10-25 years? That’s an interesting definition of the word “abuse”
      Oct 7, 2019
    • Facebook / Eng

      Facebook Eng

      Chandu ke gaand mein daalo bamboo. Phir royega saala fuddu.
      Oct 8, 2019


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