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07
Fri, Dec

Everyone wants to be genuinely happy. Despite a life of peace, prosperity, and freedom; happiness always seems just out of reach. 

Since our birth, America’s technological boon has fostered a world of unbound opportunities that generations before could only dream of. We entered adulthood at the prelude of a decade of robust growth with no signs of impediment. We have both ample access to quality education, and the freedoms to express our earned wealth as we please. Still, we aren’t happy. It’s no longer a search for the extraordinary, it’s a search for contention. It’s the search for normalcy.

From World War II to the nineties, America was the dominant force of the world; however, our millennium started in ire. It began with an attack on sovereign soil that led to two decades of warfare. It continued with the collapse of our financial system that ruined lives due to no fault of their own. It pursued into revelations of severe breaches of empathy that tarnished our moral character. These events dignified to us that this millennium will be different. The world will never be the same.

It’s scary to grow up in a period of tragedy after tragedy in effervescent cycles. Eventually, we start to forget that human kindness is ubiquitously more rampant than human recklessness.  

Modern media contributed to this erie of false truth. When no one wants to read about the mundane, newspapers can only drift towards the crass. This inundation of information has led us to forget what’s normal. Furthermore, when our lives are no longer private; we feel lost of our own voice. We are so fluctuated with the opinions of others, that we forgo our own privacy in an effort to fit in.

However, sexual assault didn’t start this decade, it has existed since the beginning of civilization. Modern media only revealed it’s scope within American culture, and made it known that “invasions of privacy are not acceptable.” Sexual assault is an invasion of personal privacy, and should be prosecuted as a criminal offence. Our right to privacy is protected by our constitution under the Fourth Amendment, and as a God given right that everyone deserves. But these days, sex is what we crave, to hear.

In the end, the media did nothing wrong than share another category of tragedies, along with all the other headlines of the last 20 years. Sadly, we don’t know what it is to be normal anymore. Since we could faithfully remember, it’s been pretty bad. It’s a horrible way to start a millennium.

In reality, tragedies happen to everyone: Invasion of privacy, Great Recession, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 attacks, Clinton’s perjury, OKC bombing, LA riot, Challenger explosion, Reagan assassination attempt, Watergate, Kent State shooting, Kennedy assassination, Detroit riot,  Vietnam War, McCarthyism, Korean War, and we made it to Hitler. 

Bad stuff happens throughout history, and the above list is only a brief of American history within the last 70 years. Tragedies are omnipresent throughout humanity, but

 

Albeit turmoil, there is Triumph. 

 

And these moments make life worth it. It has, for the entirety of human history. We, as a race, exist because humans are innately curious, and love life. You, as an individual, do not matter to the human race; just like most people that ever lived. Yet, everyone still lives until they die unwillingly.

You got two options, you could live a wonderful life, move to Los Angeles, fall in love, have a few kids, buy a house in the suburbs, and live happily ever after, or you could live somewhere else and write your own version of the story. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you live, because after you die, your consciousness and memories fade away; which means you can’t reminisce about your lived life. To the universe as a whole, each life is as mundane as a scratcher from the bodega. 

There are no expectations of you, other than those that you choose to oblige. You could live a peaceful life in the suburbs, or climb Mount Everest, or get hammered in dives, or make arts and steal hearts, or preside over a nation, or explore the universe, or change humanity for the better. Do whatever you want, and make the life of another better when you can. If it's too much effort to help others, just sit back and enjoy your own life. We aren’t even a third done with living, and most of it was childhood.

Have a good year everyone. There is no other option.

Butte is a city that prides itself on its mining past. At the turn of the last century, she was notorious for being the quintessential definition of a Western boomtown. As the world moved from its agrarian past to embrace electricity, so too did their demand for copper. As the war effort roared during the 1910’s, so did an economy that boasted the cultural, commercial, and financial center of the Great West. As the American economy shifted once more in the second half of the last century, our prosperity and population slowly receded to our current glory. Now, we are a town that stands between a prideful past and the unknown future.

There was always something special about the people in Butte. They have a resilience that never dies. Not after bone-chilling winters, not after magnitudes of environmental disaster, not after distraught economic downfall; the people here held onto a pride that the harsh of the world can never tear away. They stayed with the determination and vigor to face the future, whatever it might be. The pride of the past resonates in the hearts of every resident. But the winds shift, and our city is thrust into an evolving world with an economy that dictates change.

Copper was the lifeblood that grew a small mining town to a national city. And it’s fall in prices also unwinded a prosperous metro of 100,000. The copper mines did more than just create wealth, they forged a local sentiment that stands distinct from the rest of the country. It brought people from diverse backgrounds to earn a living from the fruits of their labor, it forged a liberality that echoed the discontent of laborers, and it built grit that defines the resilience of our city.

In the second half of the last century, the boom faded, and so did the wealth and population of Butte. But despite, she survived. I heard a wise man say that “Butte only exists because people wants it to.” It’s that sentiment that keeps us going. Our pride never falters even in the coldest of winters.

Over the last few years, there has been a renaissance of innovation and culture in Butte. It wasn’t created by luck, but by men and women who refused to let our town die. Every single day, we hear of technological marvels that dot the offices of Main street, and every weekend, we explore the cultures of art that line the windows of Uptown.

This all started with a pride that stands resolute despite the difficulties of the world. But, the most important characteristic of our town is our heart. Butte is a place where people are generous beyond their means to care for the community we share. It’s a place where the colds of winter might shiver the skin, but it never touches the soul underneath. Despite the season, people will greet you with a smile and a genuine warmth in their voice.

This ethos spawned the seeds of the revival we see today. From across the country, people who stepped foot in this town fell in love with the identity of Butte. They didn’t move here for the economy like a century past; they moved here for the heart of this community. The stories of our innovators resonate across the country, and the arts of our city define a new culture for Montana. The nickname “The Richest Hill on Earth” isn’t a forgotten jest of our past, but a testament to our future.

The Berkeley Pit that entrenches this town is a constant reminder of our history. It’s a hole that’s in a purgatorial limbo of being filled, but filling the pit isn’t the solution. Despite what happens, that pit will always be besmirched. We will never find the exact thing to fill it, because it no longer exists. The earth has been dug, the water tainted, and the damage has left a resonate mark on our town. Instead, it is a prideful remembrance of our past, and its remediation will be an augury of Butte’s revitalization. The pit is a reminder that we have persevered, and we will establish the future enshrined in our ethos.

As the years go by, Butte will always be Butte, but a city isn’t defined by its past, it’s defined by the deeds of the present. We’ll never be as fancy as Missoula, as progressive as Bozeman, as lovely as Helena, as beautiful as Whitehall, as quaint as Livingston, or as resolute as Billings. Instead, we have grit and we have heart.

There are fancier, more progressive, lovelier, more beautiful, more quaint, and more resolute cities across our nation. But there is only one Butte. It’s our grit that keeps us going. It’s the heart that pumps even when the mind chooses to concede.

Butte is a historic town where the traditions of the past sew deeply into the fabric of our being. But despite the bone-chilling winters and economic downfall, our pride never falters. We are women and men who grew up on the difficulties of life, and the scars that remain is not a reminder of our past glory, it’s evidence that we have survived and we will continue to thrive.

It’s resilience that built Butte.

As Generation Y matures from youths to adults, it's hard to understand why so many of us harbor irreconcilable differences between the generations before us. Beneath the veneer, the millennials are just a bunch of men and women facing the same rites of passage as our parents. Though the nuances are unique per generation, the core value holds for all of humanity: It's a story of coming-of-age and self-acceptance. As we mature over the next four decades, we will, like our forefathers, hold the reigns of the American economy. 

Generation Y grew up in an era that shook the foundations of our country. Due to our youth, we sat on our hands as our lives convulsed in change. With the rise of domestic security, and a subsequent recession, the world became an aloof place segregated by corporations of greed and politics of power. 

For most of the last decade, we watched older men and women make decisions that dramatically influenced our lives; yet, we had no say on the outcomes. We went to war under an oil baron defending a country under attack, and we lost our savings to avaricious capitalists misestimating an opaque and increasingly complex economy. 

With the advent of equally biased media, we could only induce a world that's ruled by conspiring politics of greed and corporations of power. Though the truth is wrought less of malice, the inference of dishonest men will never leave our hearts. It's the same reason why gossip prevails despite facts contradicting slander.

As we grew older, our distaste for greed and malice forged a stoic identity that refused to acquiesce to the enmity that ran rampant across our country. To us, resistance was not an act of arrogance or defiance, it's a restitution against a world succumbed to the immoralities of our childhood antagonists.

As our local Google, Apple, and Facebook grew into global behemoths, we obliquely confirmed our destiny. We don't need to invade countries, or gamble on stocks; we can be better than that. We can tweet pictures of food.

As sons and daughters of humble engineers, our generation found mathematics and technology as expected knowledge, rather than formidable excursions. Instead of accepting math as our experienced field of study, no different than farmers with horticulture or writers with diction, we viewed our discipline as an intrinsic identifier of our distinction. We had no doubt that we'll build great empires, especially relative to the ordinary populace. 

We watched movies where heroes triumphantly conquered greed-infested empires through acts of wisdom and courage. We played video games as champions who saved worlds through determination and valor. Our childhood engrained a philosophy that we were special individuals yet to realize our true potential. We are trainers from Pallet Town, warriors from Northshire Abbey, and residents of 4 Privet Drive. 

We trampled through high school with our overly padded 4.0+ GPA's, and breezed through college drunk off ego and pride. For the fraction of us who majored in computer science, we graduated into a world filled with such unbound opportunities that we accepted this opportune time in history as the status quo. Fogged glasses aside, technology is no different than the economic history of defense, marketing, music, finance, entertainment, housing, technology, data, and, soon-to-be, space.

When we think of an office job, we immediately lapse into the stereotypical Hollywood icon of the overworked 40-year old with a soul torn away by society. Somewhere between ages 13 and 22, we internally vowed to resist this cognation of the corporate machine. For us to dawn the suit and tie, is to accept and recede into a life that we no longer control. It's an act of defeat. It's to enter a world destined for greed induced recessions or opaquely righteous wars. 

But how true is our distaste? We pride ourselves on the technologies of Google, Apple, and Facebook; yet, they are no different than the entities we were taught to contempt. Google provides information, Facebook connects friends, and Apple brought a world into a technological age. Yet on the flip side, Google controls the Internet, Facebook sells your information, and Apple panders phones to the 1%. In the end, it's just rhetorics.

We hate Monsanto, but it fed more people than every high-priced organic farm combined. We hate banks, but they gave impetus for aspiring entrepreneurs to build empires. We hate the government, but on the whole, we live in a country naught of fear nor hunger, filled with justice and opportunity.

Our problems lie in more than just a mistrust of power; it poignantly reflects a self-worth unaugmented by reality. We are passionate and skilled individuals just waiting for the right opportunity, but in reality, how skilled are we? 

Sure, we can all program a bit, and we've all written some decent code snippets in college, but our level of technological knowledge isn't special anymore, it's the norm. Yep, you can build cool mods off of game engines, but can you build the game engine itself? Sure, you can add amazing special effects to YouTube clips, but can you make a full-length movie that blurs the lines of reality? We are all pretty good at these basic skills, but are we in any way, overtly special? I don't deserve a Noble Prize in Literature because I can write grammatically correct sentences. 

As the world matures and technology becomes widespread, our once arcane knowledge has become commonplace. Though my grandma still can't send an email, everyone in their 20's, 30's, and 40's can operate Excel, or defrag a hard drive. As we enter our mid-twenties, we still cling onto our beguiled intrinsic exceptionality. Instead of accepting our current lives as the veritas truth, we ignore it in favor of a better version, something more gildedly genuine. 

For many of us, this refusal of acceptance isn't arrogance nor stubbornness, its more sentiment. It's a coping mechanism to deal with the realizations of a world that contradicts our hopes and dreams, and we need some impetus, any impetus, to stay positive and continue forward. Whether it's feigned courage or seeming arrogance.

This ideal comes from a life that's lined with cloaked hardships. Our childhoods were earmarked with wars, recessions, rising divorce rates, and crass medias. In further exacerbation, the above factors perpetuated an increase in generational drug use and painful social isolation. We are left with a societal melancholy hidden by a thin gold gilding.

A high school buddy of mine recently lost both a close friend and a family member; since, he has used opiates to cover the pain. He was a bright techie who could code better than I could, but twists of fate left him sitting on his hands as he watched his life exacerbate. Boundless opportunities slipped through his fingers due to decisions outside of his control, and what remains is a perplexed mistrust of the world. Sometimes, it's easier to see yourself as a stoic spirit unencumbered by the greed of the world, than to accept a life that is decisive and unforgiving.

But that can't be the truth; we are the chosen generation, we are special, and through all the hardships we traverse, we will prevail and save this world from the greed and corruption that run rampant across our country. 

But we aren't heroes; we are just a generation coming to age in a world filled with adversities. The world isn't corrupt; it's just a bunch of men and women like us dealing with their own problems. It's misguided foresight and misunderstanding of another's intentions. It's honest mistakes coupled with desires to protect loved ones. There aren't corrupt masochists drinking oil and dining on money; there are only people, like you and me. 

We don't accept facts, because they hurt. It's not a just pinch on the arm, it's a punch in the gut that leaves you gasping for air. We grew up on stories of righteous success, doing what's right, and to never give in to temptations of greed, but when life doesn't follow the same story arc, a change in our world-image also invalidates our self-image. What are we anymore, just a bunch of average guys and gals struggling to make a living? No, that can't be it. We are special, and we'd rather refuse the truth in harbor for something better, something more gildedly genuine. 

To admit a life of normalcy is to accept a loss of our heroism and invincibility. It's like Bruce Wayne fighting crime without his Bat Suit, and realizes that he can die from a bullet like everyone else. Ironically, Bruce has always been mortal, in or out of his disguise.

It's depressing to change your self-perception from an entrepreneur working at Starbucks, to an employee of Starbucks.  It's painful to change your self-perception from a partying tech rock star, to a businessman sufficing on booze and weed. It crushes the soul to change your self-perception from a genius waiting to be discovered, to a twenty something year-old with nothing to show for.

We all have ambitions that we hold dear, but acceptance doesn't mean to give up on our dreams. Acceptance means to progress forward ungilded by false hopes.

San Francisco is 5 miles from Oakland, but that doesn't mean we can take a straight line from point A to point B. We can't fly like birds; we are only men and women resorting to our feet, the Muni, and the Bart. All our lives we were taught to believe in ourselves, but self-encouragement isn't a conclusion, it's an impetus for progress.

Though the world is harsh, it's also filled with unbound opportunities. Instead of holding onto some dream and a gilded truth, we have to accept our realities so we can progress towards the future we deserve. Do you want to design video games? Don't wait until Blizzard or Valve hires you; build your game in Java and distribute it as an Indie developer. You want to get funded? Learn to code in Cocoa or Swift, build an app, and publish it onto the App store. You want to work with data? Scrape a dataset, build visualizations, and make key insights.

Maybe right now, we are just mediocre, but that means nothing for the remainder of our amazing lives. To accept the truth is a painful realization of our own normalcy, but it's the first step to build the future we were meant to accomplish.

Our generation is special. We live in an age where technology has all but depleted the mind-numbing labor that humans have toiled for subsistence. We live in an era where we have the resources and time to make ennobled changes to a dynamic world full of opportunities. We lived through the creation of the Internet, digitization, and for God's sakes, we can email wrenches to space stations. How incredible is that! And within a few decades, we are going to explore different planets!

We are a special generation because we have so much opportunity ahead of us, and in twenty years, we will control the direction of our country. Maybe your first job out of college isn't as glorious as you thought you deserved; instead of architecting a database, you are repetitively tapping buttons that anyone could have done. But life isn't quick and easy, it's a journey that's labyrinthine, arduous, and beautiful. 

There's no instant gratification like our video games, and sometimes you just want to give up and return to a life more gildedly genuine. But hold dear to the determination that we've internalized, and pertinently progress to the future that we deserve. We can't change the past, and we can't change the present, but the future holds no bounds. 

Since we were kids, we were told that we're special. Nintendo told us that we have unlimited potential, and if we believe in ourselves, we can do anything. As we mature, the life we expect is not the life we live, and we start to lose faith in more than just ourselves. But success isn't immediate; it's a process that requires persistence and self-acceptance. And though, a lot of us are currently mediocre, that means nothing for the future we can potentially forge.

Ever since we were kids, we were told that "We are special." This statement isn't a stoic truth; it's a call to action. It's a dare to fulfill a prophecy of a future we were destined to establish. 

We can wait to fly, or we can start walking. 

Last week I visited Seattle to report on a video game tournament. The prize pool was an astonishing 10 million dollars, enough to turn a gamer into a career athlete. I enjoy my video games as much as the next guy, but what caught my attention was the city itself. It reminded me of a younger San Francisco. As I wrote this editorial, my thoughts drifted away from technology and towards the juxtaposition of these two tech metropolises. 

Up until the mid 00's, Seattle was home to the world's foremost technology company, Microsoft. Located a dozen miles outside of city limits, this PC goliath has had a significant influence on the Puget Sound economy, much like Google upon the Bay Area. It's common to see talented employees leave their corporate jobs to build something original, but they never forget the experiences, cultures, and skill sets that their prior employers instilled upon them. You can bet half of San Francisco's techies have a year at Apple or Facebook stamped onto their resumes. 

Seattle is no exception; Gabe Newell, the Microsoft veteran who founded Valve Software, is a prime example. Valve hosted the aforementioned tournament, and made a minimum of 50 million dollars in receipts.

The 10 million dollar prize pool was largely fan sponsored. When gamers purchased an annual virtual compendium, 25% of the sale price was added to the championship prize pool. Compendium sales revenued 40 million dollars. In addition, Valve sold out Key Arena, 17,000 tickets starting at $100 dollars each, for their 4-day tournament. Furthermore, most attendees left this annual event with souvenirs. My friends waited three hours - yes, three hours - to buy $12 collectible plushies and $30 action figures. 

Seattle's sprawling video game industry is an absolute powerhouse. Excluding Valve, firms include Nintendo of America, Bungie, Arenanet, Big Fish, and PopCap. Seattle is also home to an array of traditional tech companies, including Amazon, Classmates, Redfin, Expedia, and Tableau, just to name a few.

San Francisco's game industry, specifically mobile applications, still reigns supreme in scale, revenue, and profit, but quality is an arbitrary term. The juxtaposition is intuitive, mobile and Internet games descend from Apple and Google, while PC games arise from Microsoft. 

Furthermore, divergent cultures has greatly influenced the two regions, albeit for better or for worse. San Francisco has a dired mindset of optimizing towards some apparent maximum. When we drove from Seattle to Lynwood, my friend opened Google Maps without considering our context or setting, and to no one's surprise, Google suggested that we take the massively overcrowded highway at peak rush hours. "Google figured it out, it inputs all the data and calculates the best way," said a friend. San Francisco believes that there is an optimum for any situation, but can we say the same for life outside of a computer screen? Furthermore, if everyone takes the same path from point A to point B, is it the best or the most popular?

When I moved to San Francisco in the heydays of the tech boom, she was a much younger city, a soulful city trying to define herself in the face of a massive influx of wealth and talent. As foreign influences mixed with intrinsic identities, the two conflicted causing unsustainable inflation and population booms that put public utilities on edge. But more importantly, this influx also brought an abundance of culture and talent that not only defines San Francisco, but her empire of the Pacific. Her identity was never lost; it only grew, evolved, and matured. And through this profound experience, San Francisco gave birth to her most important offspring. It wasn't technology; it was the public medium.

San Francisco has always been known for its counter-culture identity, a voice that rung independently of the echoes across the country. This independence was forged by our own identity as much as our country's. America was settled by individuals who chose to leave the Old World and establish a new life in a land thousands of miles from home. The West is no different. What they found in California was an environment free from the influences of Old Money, and an atmosphere that was accepting of ideas and peoples of different cultures. That's how my father ended up here at the turn of the millennium.

In the past, technology has always been a compliment instead of a core in business. Associates who close deals are more pronounced than the analysts who ran the business. Because of the scarcity of resources, also known as economics, there can only be a few businesses who can earn a contract. A simple example would be construction. The investor can only pick one developer for a new skyscraper, because there is only one plot of land, and only enough capital for one attempt. You can't start with one company and then switch to another mid project without very serious and dangerous consequences. Issues can range from labor agreements, to the suppliers and grade of steel, to the standard bolts used to uphold the concrete jungle.

Traditional industries require significant time and money to implement, and the effectiveness of a transaction cannot be realized until long after the investment has been spent. Thus, in these situations, the winners of contracts fall on appearances, because the results aren't readily available. However, the technology industry is a bit different. If you wanted to implement an electronic payment solution, you can actually try all 5 major providers in under a work week. The culture of San Francisco isn't the art of the deal, it's empiricism of results.

The reason why technology fertilized in San Francisco results largely from its culture. Back in the early 90's, there was this growing novelty dreamed up by scientists called the Internet. Most authorities dawned this wave of information technology as a passing phase that will soon subside to traditional lines of business. If you look at the Internet objectively, it's insane. The Internet is a series of tubes that connect thoughts and opinions, and if you pitched this idea to Wall Street two decade ago, they would have called you crazy.