That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion Man
The lazy manifesto of a Google employee
If you work at Google, you are probably a very smart, very driven person to begin with. Google doesn’t hire hacks, generally, being one of the most important and innovative American companies of the 21st century. My wife’s cousin worked there, in a non-tech role, and she was still looked at as a rock star in the family — and rightly so. For the average American, having Google on a resume opens a lot of doors and can engender a certain amount of prestige.
However, intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom, and certainly not the same thing as humility or self-awareness — as demonstrated in a recent ‘manifesto’ that was circulated throughout the company.
In it, a somewhat disgruntled Google employee complains about the pro-diversity practices of his company, repeating tired adages that only the best-qualified people deserve to have jobs and that affirmative action hires not only hinder that, but they destroy morale within the company of those supposedly more deserving employees. It’s being called a manifesto, 10 whole pages worth — as if pages are a thing that matters in an online setting. And now the second day story includes a statement from Google leadership that is about what you’d expect in response and a bunch of unconfirmed reports of secret support of the viewpoint within the company.
But if you manage to make it through all 10 pages you’d mostly find familiar internet arguments that are repeated in comment sections on every website. And of course, it’s accompanied with those weird, dubious statistical studies on biology and intelligence that pretend to be pure science, but are often rife with controversy and potentially misleading data — but tend to stick around because they are too complex for the average person to understand completely why they’re wrong.
Men are from Mars
It reads like a bad comedian ranting about how “women and men are just different, so sue me for saying so” , mixed with some good ole’ baby-boomer “I worked hard so why should I help those who haven’t”, sprinkling in a touch of affirmative action bashing and a smattering of strawman argument smashing quips. There’s even a footnotes section where maybe you’d expect to see some proof for his claims, but actually just includes more of his own opinions.
Without addressing the content, i’d just like to say — I expect more from a Google employee. The whole screed is structured as though it was a scientific argument but it’s hollow and redundant. Nothing more than a glorified copypasta from some men’s rights Sub Reddit.
Our author is consistently careful to mention that he supports diversity and that his is a problem with policy. But he attacks the policy on a supposedly scientific level, making it seem as though his position is the hush hush truth of the matter.
Here we have somebody who is already working at Google, probably in a programming role. In a lot of ways he’s already won the life lottery. He works at a huge, successful company, in the beautiful and rich Bay Area, probably making better than decent money, doing something he trained his whole life to do, and yet, he is unsatisfied.
He mentions the inherent ambition of men being hindered by women who, as he seems to imply, are being forced into roles they really don’t want anyway. He also complains about opportunities lost to women and minorities in the name of diversity which unfairly discriminates against him and other potential Googlers who are more like him. But his main argument seems to be that Google is some sort of authoritarian workplace that discourages conservative, or as he puts it, classically liberal, thought.
Without irony , he makes himself the victim of a pervasive, liberal reverse discrimination that ignores the meritocracy of honorable hard working employees. It’s a common tactic to turn discrimination on its head against progressives, but it is probably the least genuine argument because it points out hypocritical reasoning only to re-purpose it as a valid defense. But he does seem to feel genuinely marginalized, again without much self-awareness.
Who deserves a piece of the pie?
Look at Google’s own released statistics on the matter. In tech roles, the company is 80/20 men and women, heavily in favor of men. And ethnically, more than 50% are white and around 40% are Asian, leaving about 10% to be divided among the rest of all backgrounds. The numbers change somewhat when you look at the entire company or specifically in non-tech roles but by and large the ethnic makeup of the company doesn’t change while women are far more represented in non-tech roles.
It begs the question, what is the right mix from your perspective? Maybe in his mind that question is irrelevant because if the company only hired the right people for the job, the makeup of the company would just be what it is — and it would be fair. But in that regard his mistake in logic is not one of free-market vs. entitlement, or liberal vs. conservative, or feminist vs. patriarchy. His problem is that he overrates himself and some of his colleagues and undervalues others that he deems undeserving.
Everyone, including those unfair diversity-hires, who works at Google are already really smart and high-achieving compared to the general population. The list of Google’s favorite universities to hire from only reveals its preference for the cream of the crop with a bias toward California colleges — probably because the company is based in California. The only real outlier is Tsinghua University, a Chinese college in Beijing. There are no private for-profit universities, no ITT Tech, no cheap state colleges, no trade schools and no community colleges. Google values intelligence and skill, explicitly and regardless of any diversity increasing policies.
If graduating from one of those 20 universities, presumably with better than average grades, is not enough good enough to prove your worth to Google, then what is?
Ugly Truth or Benefit of the Doubt?
A particularly sad anonymous comment from Motherboard’s story that compiles the internal discussion at Google surrounding this document, I think, gets at the core of what is potentially so divisive about this issue, removing the careful asides and qualifying statements about support for diversity that are in the original manifesto:
“The fella who posted that is extremely brave. We need more people standing up against the insanity. Otherwise ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ which is essentially a pipeline from Women’s and African Studies into Google, will ruin the company.”
They may as well have said, “will ruin the country,” because we usually see this comment attached to a story about immigration. It perfectly sums up the sentiment for some at the company — women and minorities can take their useless degrees elsewhere. Keep in mind, this isn’t some mindless troll in a comments section, some right wing uncle on Facebook, or teenage edgelord, this came from a private internal discussion between Google employees — it is an intelligent person who has experienced a professional work environment and benefited from it.
The statement is a clear overreaction by any measure, and maybe not one really supported by our original author, but on some level there seems to be a sentiment that the tech-side (i.e. the real work) of the company was suddenly being filled with comically unqualified people just so Google could maintain the diversity quota. It cuts to the heart of the matter — outsiders are driving the once great Google into the ground and its time to do something about it.
By belittling the meager ambitions and desires of historically marginalized groups or trying to rationalize disparities as inherent biological differences, these Googlers are propping up the tech industry stereotype of a futuristic Augusta National boys club.
The author may feel that his abilities and some of his colleagues are undervalued, and they may well be justified in thinking so on some level, but no specific reasons are given beyond the fact that he and fellow conservative Googlers feel marginalized by programs and policies that don’t cater to him and his beliefs — Which is exactly what he believes is wrong with the company in the first place.
I really can’t stress this final point enough — the guy already has a job at Google. He is already winning at life. I actually think he cares too much about that fact, equating a job as cog in the machine with being a righteous crusader fighting for a cause. He is probably very invested in the company, but in that investment he believes he represents the best interests of the company, when in fact he’s putting them into a bind with his stupid manifesto.
This country is a really polarized place right now and sometimes well-intentioned policies can have unexpected consequences or poor results. The world is also full of hypocritical people, saying what they need to say to get ahead, regardless of if they believe it.
I suppose he has the choice to go full Shkreli and embrace his Alt-Right fame, or just keep a low profile and move on.
Either way he has Google on his resume, he’ll probably be alright.
Edit: Or he’ll get fired, I still think he’ll be okay