Most of those close to me have, at some point, been subjected to rants on one of two subjects: the lack of reasonably dateable men in the Bay Area, and tech. Technology is not a terrible thing, in and of itself, but having lived in the region that prides itself on being at the forefront of, well, everything, I've noticed how it does funny things to people.
Namely, it breeds a willful narrow-mindedness that allows one to believe that he (and trust me, it's always a he) is doing something more important and more innovative than anyone anywhere else. And he can believe this, without irony, because he doesn't know or care what people beyond his bubble are doing; the outside world may as well not exist at all.
As a friend recently pointed out, there's a fundamental difference between changing the world and making it a better place. Take Steve Jobs. Did he change the world? Yes. Did he make it a better place? Debatable.
This is not to say that brilliant ideas never come out of Silicon Valley. But I've also suffered through many conversations in which the other person waxes poetic on how his startup is doing all the things for the greater good, and when I ask what the company does he says, "It's the Uber for ___." (Read: it increases human laziness for the privileged people who have smart phones and a bank account to link it to).
And yet, I realized, my industry is not so different. For every Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, we have a Thomas Keller or Daniel Patterson; the ones that everyone idolizes and emulates. For every news article about lawsuits between companies regarding intellectual property one employee may have brought from one job to the next, there is gossip about how alums from three-star Michelin restaurants built their solo projects on the recipes from their alma maters and mentors.
In Chicago I met up with a fellow pastry cook I knew from SF. She semi-jokingly recounted how in the early stages of job searching in the Midwest, certain chefs' egos were bruised when they realized that the clout they'd built up locally hadn't penetrated the west coast (i.e. why have you not heard of me?)
We all live in bubbles. In the restaurant industry as in tech, people are so intensely focused on the goings-on within such a narrow radius that they become myopic, and creativity and innovation suffer.
People ask me why I wanted to leave San Francisco for Stockholm, and that's why - I needed to get out of the persistent rat race of one-upmanship and experience something new, different.