'This Isn't About Immaturity vs. Seriousness'

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We love our commenters, especially when they dive into conflicts near to our hearts like the cultural divide between New York and San Francisco, and even when their points don't make sense at first blush.

Responding to Rebecca Greenfield's post about the culture clash over Mark Zuckerberg's hoodie on his recent IPO roadshow to Wall Street, commenter Sabrina Alfin made the astute point that both Wall Street business suits and Silicon Valley casual make similarly serious statements about money:

This isn't about immaturity vs. seriousness.  It's a clash of money culture: flashy, pin-stripe suited New York financiers vs. laid back, blue jean-wearing Silicon Valley nerds.  Both equally powerful; both wouldn't have it any other way. 

As a former New Yorker now living in the SF Bay Area, I usually summarize the culture difference between the two coasts like this:  in New York, you know people have money by how well they dress and how much expensive jewelry they have on.  In San Francisco, you know people have money by what car they drive. People don't like conspicuous displays of wealth here.  You can go to a five-star restaurant in SF and you will be hard pressed to find anyone wearing a jacket.

But wait, isn't the kind of car you drive very much a conspicuous display of wealth (as a responding commenter noted)? Well, yes. So is the expensive house in Menlo Park, and the fancy restaurant to which you don't wear a sport coat. All convey that one's comfort or pleasure is paramount to one's appearance. In that way, Silicon Valley casual can actually come off a lot flashier than any power suit.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.