Ever read Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower or Parable of the Talents? You really should. Like, really should. Similar to Children of Men, Butler’s two-part literary masterpiece is almost difficult to classify as “science fiction” in 2021, given that pretty much everything in the story has now been mirrored in the real world around us—a broken country with crumbling infrastructure reeling from nativist reactionaries, climate collapse, water wars, and xenophobia. There’s even a bit where a fascistic President (no, not that one) vows to literally “Make America great again.”
In Butler’s dystopia now, semblances of safety can only be found within communal, suburban enclaves, or by taking a chance inside corporate village-states where one is rumored to be reduced to 21st-century indentured tech servants. It’s bleak stuff, and it’s a world everyone would prefer to stave off, if at all possible... well, everyone except Mark goddamn Zuckerberg, of course. He’s totally pumped to welcome you all to Willow Village, aka Facebookville, USA.
Designed by Peninsula Innovation Partners, LLC and Signature Development Group “on behalf of Facebook,” Willow Village will essentially be a 59-acre city for Zuckerberg’s employees adjacent to the company’s Menlo Park campus, and will include over 1500 mixed-income homes, a grocery store, office space, a hotel, parks, and even a pharmacy.
As Misan Etchie at HackerNoon recently explained, the average Big Tech employee reportedly lasts only about two years at any given job. To improve retention rates, places like Facebook, Apple, and Google have increasingly upped their incentive games with subsidized commutes, housing opportunities, stock options, bonuses, and all kinds of other goodies that appear positive at face value. “A very good and effective way of keeping employees though is to involve themselves in every aspect of their lives,” writes Etchie. “This is where company-owned homes come in; It is much harder to leave a company if that same company owns your home and that of your friends and family.” Lovely.
Of course, the only downside to all this is... well, actually, there are a ton of downsides to this—work-life balance abuse, privacy concerns, class disparity, racial bias, etc. On top of all this, companies like Facebook contribute very little tax revenue to the area, so public infrastructure invariably suffers in the process. But that’s what Zuckerberg and his likeminded tech oligarchs are counting on—making it seem like publicly funded enterprises pale in comparison to their corporate alternatives, while both actively and passively sabotaging said public works.
According to reports, Willow Village’s “Phase 1A” is set to be completed in 2025, with God only knows what to follow. Maybe a private security force earning far more than actual local police make? Oh, wait, nevermind.
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