Silicon Valley has long been a topsy-turvy world: where data mining is good (for nefarious actors, that is), diversity is bad, and where employee productivity is such a concern that the design of a new office building literally forces workers to walk into walls.
Now, the Washington Post has published a take on what it claims is a new trend in this non-metallic pocket of the Golden State: backyard chickens. What was once a necessity to farm families and lower-income immigrants in the area to have a predictable source of protein has become a status symbol in Valley nerd culture. Apps and spreadsheets to maximize laying abound, and high incomes allow the humans to feed their… well, food-producers, grilled organic salmon and watermelon.
“[‘Chicken whisperer’ Leslie] Citroen’s clients are usually men in their 30s and 40s, with young families. After spending their days in front of computers, they long for a connection to nature. What they want most of all, she said, is a ‘rainbow assortment’ of beautiful, colored eggs in various shades of blue, olive green and speckled brown.
Citroen’s 19-year-old son, Luca, who grew up around the family business, puts it this way: ‘Being able to say you have chickens says, “I have a backyard,” and having a backyardsays, “I have space.” And having space means you have money, especially when it comes to Silicon Valley real estate.’”
Contact with nature does lower job-related stress levels, so I’m not going to begrudge the workers of the cutthroat tech world their dose of fowl friendliness. (I’m also biased: one of the sweetest animal companions I’ve ever had was my childhood chicken!)
But… This chicken craze strikes me as yet another in a long line of things that tech “bros” dabble in, and (innocently?) ruin for regular people — like just plain living in San Francisco anymore. There are plenty of ways to incorporate chickens into your life that don’t involve $20,000 coop setups, and smartphone apps that control lighting and temperature, and offer owners a live stream of their flock. Trust me; the chickens can’t tell the difference. That’s all for the humans.