At the crossroads of stress and success

The Instagram account @siliconvalleyprobs, created by two students in the Bay Area, mocks Silicon Valley culture.

Many of the account's memes provide social commentary on the culture of consumerism and academic pressures in Silicon Valley schools.

Many of the account's memes provide social commentary on the culture of consumerism and academic pressures in Silicon Valley schools.

The account features memes stereotyping life in the Bay Area, especially focusing on such subjects like the obsessive buzz over the latest Apple products, Juuling, computer science, stressful AP classes and veganism. The account posts several times a week.

As a general rule of thumb, the more brutally honest the parody is, the more laughs it reaps. And this Instagram account has a large following: over 28,000 people, demonstrating that its satiric observations resonate with the viewers.

“I draw a lot of inspiration from middle schoolers that I see saying random s--t,” the owner of the account said, who wishes to remain anonymous.

About 70 percent of the account’s memes are original, drawn from everyday life situations, and the other 30 percent are submitted through Instagram’s direct messaging feature, according to the owner.

For example, when the friend of the owner mispronounced the name of the iPhone X as the “iPhone ‘ex,’” it led to the creation of a meme reading “There are only two types of people: those who say ‘iPhone ex’ and those who say ‘iPhone ten.’ ”

The presence of technology is both a marker of Bay Area culture and a recurring thread in the @siliconvalleyprobs account. Burlingame High School junior Audrey Liebhaber and a student from another school created a satirical video that was actually posted to the account a few months ago. The two pretended to work out by lifting Apple products into the air.

The hyper-involvement of technology in the lives of Bay Area students is most likely a result of the high concentration of successful companies like Youtube and Google, as well as ultra-competitive universities.

“I’m still trying to find the line between the immense appreciation of growing up in this area, and feeling that stress, pressure and competition,” the owner said, referencing the emotional cost of living in such a successful place.

According to the owner of @siliconvalleyprobs, the prevalence of social media, technology, and world-class academia has negative implications as well.

“The environment that [Silicon Valley] has fostered is toxic, and comes in the form of competition instead of collaboration,” the owner said, citing the rising rates of anxiety and depression among teenagers in the Peninsula area and the suicide cluster that Palo Alto High School recently experienced.

It might seem ironic to some people that a place so steeped in privilege has a high rate of deteriorating mental health among adolescents. A common college essay topic focuses on the privilege of living in what is described as the Bay Area “bubble.” Some students argue that the area is not as much a bubble as it is a pressure cooker.

"I think our ideas of achievement and what it means to be successful are really distorted,” the owner said.

Posted on October 26, 2017 .