HBO's Silicon Valley is nothing short of a hit. And, for a while, I wasn't sure why. For me, it was the fact that the series was created by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Idiocracy). I'm still catching up on the second season (which ended this last summer) so I've had a lot of time to think about why people love this show.
And it comes down to this: we live in the age of technology. American ingenuity no longer refers to what we make with our hands. It stems from what we can create with the technology that is available to us. We went from builders to thinkers. Creators to philosophers. From "How can we make this" to "How can we optimize its performance".
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it is definitely a shift in social consciousness. Our heroes have changed. And we greeted them with open arms.
The most notable of these new heroes is Steve Jobs. As of today, 3 movies have been made about him (two narrative, one documentary) and he is a constant source of inspiration for young minds. And even though many people who have worked with him have said he was a tough boss/co-worker, people my age continue to look up to him.
There's something about people in start-ups that strike a chord with anyone who thinks creatively. There is a sense of familiarity in who he was, there is something that makes him feel like "one of us". For young people (like myself) this can be a double-edged sword.
I don't think I've met anyone who that was Jobsian in any way. But have met people that believe they're just as talented as him. These people, in my mind, are filled with false confidence. It is nice that they are trying. But in the end, they/we will never have an ounce of the mind that Jobs had. We are not Elon Musk or Kevin Rose.
But Silicon Valley makes us feel like we are. We have a cast of 5 socially inept guys who end up creating a compression algorithm that could change the way we use the Internet.
And it's that. The second half of that bolded sentence above. We watch this show or The Social Network or any one of the Steve Jobs films (excluding the documentary) and forget the actual work that is put into shaping/creating the future.
These people were geniuses. We on the other hand, may not be. We may have grand, beautiful, gamechanging ideas. But do we know how to implement them? The characters in the show definitely do (and maybe the moments where their intellect shines are a part of the appeal).
The problem is not that we all think we can be Steve Jobs. The problem is that we can't see what is in front of us and the steps that need to be taken before we can etch our names into time the same way he has.