I find a lot of these type of articles leave me with little empathy for the writer, often they seem as much an aggressor in the situation as those they write about.
Not so here - this post really pissed me off. Here is someone who was aware enough of the systemic problem to wait for a year to complain about sexual harassment so she can graduate successfully. Holy crap, I can’t fathom the determination and self-control that must’ve taken. That breaks my heart. And still they hav took at dig at her. Whew.
Then not getting listened to? WTF is wrong with everyone?
What can I do?
Avoid working in Japan, for starters.
Definitely. And for a whole host of reasons. It’s not a good place for creative types to work. Society there tries to force all such people to be cogs in machines.
Correct, if you don’t want to deal with a very conservative culture. Actual conservative, not the caricature most people think of in relation to, say, the Midwest. Patrick McKenzie had an interesting writeup here that covers some of the problems.
To be fair to Japanese culture, there is something to be said for that sort of traditionalistic, conservative structure. Japan’s work culture is dysfunctional but it doesn’t have the ingredients that makes Silicon Valley universally reviled: corruption and evil. Japan’s work culture may be inefficient, but it’s not corrupt and it’s not evil.
In Japan, you wouldn’t have someone spend years trying to ruin another person’s career just to amuse himself, whereas this is commonplace in the startup world. (There’s a lot of evidence that YC was originally founded to advance personal vendettas of the original partners.)
In Japan’s work culture, you have well-intended people who end up doing harm. One example: the intent of employees to invest in their people and ensure employment, unfortunately, results in a labor market with no fluidity. A layoff that would be no big deal in the US is career-ending in Japan, to the point that unneeded people are often put on make-work for several years to avoid stigma. Another example: not wanting to let the team down, people stay in the office until 9:30 pm– and this forces the rest of the team to stay late as well.
Silicon Valley probably has similar levels of dysfunction, but its dysfunction is opposite in origin: intentionally created, by malevolent people, toward nefarious ends.
The Japanese work culture has an incorrect assumption in it that long work hours are productive, and this causes a lot of suffering, but there’s an earnest belief (and a benevolence) behind it. Whereas in Silicon Valley, the suffering is deliberate and usually a divide-and-conquer play coming from the founder class.
The other thing is that Japan is homogeneous and probably the closest to being a true classless society of any at scale. (Japan, of course, has social class issues, as all societies do.) Elite graduates still have to put in the long hours like everyone else. The result of such ethnic and class homogeneity is that it can develop assumptions that aren’t entirely correct and that, even when executed by people with good intentions, lead to dysfunction.
California, on the other hand, is fragmented and its defining trait is its lack of culture and history. The upshot of this is that it can engender creativity. The downside is that (1) it enables the worst of humanity, whether we’re talking about Charles Manson or Phil Spector or Paul Graham or Travis Kalanick; (2) the lack of established rules enables corruption, as you see with spoiled rich kids getting a huge advantage in the career game that Japanese megacorps wouldn’t give them, and (3) the heterogeneity makes the place ripe for divide-and-conquer games, which is what most people in the founder/investor class actually use to get people to work (instead of, you know, paying them fairly).
I don’t feel follow YC much, so I’d like to know more about the evidence that it was used for vendettas. Could you or someone explain or show me what to search? Unfortunately, I only found irrelevant topics and a bunch of Quora posts about you.
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I think that if someone time-traveled from 1940 to 2017 and landed in Japan, he’d see a capitalistic society but think that the communists won 45-50% of the battles. He’d see low income inequality and a focus on community and humanity in business decision-making, but he’d also see a lot of face-saving bureaucracy and inefficiency.
If he time-traveled to 2017 and landed in Silicon Valley, he’d see a capitalistic society but think that the fascists had won 45-50% of the battles: less of the racist shit, but dehumanizing corporate control, a lack of belief in human dignity, and increasing cohesion among the ruling class while divide-and-conquer tactics are deployed against the “good soldier folk”.
Japanese salaryman employment represents just a subset of jobs and is not representative of Japanese culture as a whole. There are many opportunities for creatives across all fields here.
I don’t think we can use one incident to indict Japan. There’s sexism in a lot of places, and Silicon Valley takes the cake when it comes to the aggressive, threatening kind (although other cultures may have more of the subtle, traditionalist kind) that would lead a woman to fear for her safety.