We all need second chances. Even if we don’t need those fresh starts ourselves, we want to live in a world where people have a reason to do better. But the prodigal tech bro’s redemption arc is so quick and smooth it’s barely a road bump. That’s because we keep skipping the most important part of the prodigal son story—where he hits rock bottom. In the original parable, the prodigal son wakes up in a pig sty, starving, and realizes his father’s servants now live better than he does. He resolves to go home to the people and place he did not value or respect before. He will beg to be one of his father’s servants. He accepts his complete loss of status. But instead of chastising and punishing his prodigal son, the rejoicing father greets him joyfully and heads off the apology with a huge party. It’s a great metaphor for how to run a religion, but a lousy way to run everything else.
Prodigal tech bro stories skip straight from the past, when they were part of something that—surprise!—turned out to be bad, to the present, where they are now a moral authority on how to do good, but without the transitional moments of revelation and remorse. But the bit where you say you got things wrong and people were hurt? That’s the most important part. It’s why these corporatized reinventions feel so slick and tinny, and why so many of the comments on Lajeunesse’s train wreck post on Medium were critical. The journey feels fake. These ‘I was lost but now I’m found, please come to my TED talk’ accounts typically miss most of the actual journey, yet claim the moral authority of one who’s ‘been there’ but came back. It’s a teleportation machine, but for ethics.
The Prodigal Techbro | The Conversationalist: