Sure, Sean Parker is throwing a whimsical wedding destined to be the envy of Charles de Lint-loving teen girls nationwide, but make no mistake: The rest of the tech world does not go in for that sort of thing. So says the New York Times, insisting that Silicon Valley prefers backyards (witness Zuck, Chris Hughes and Larry Ellison’s fourth marriage) and private islands “with enough security to thwart interlopers by air or sea” (both Google cofounders).
Can’t have any photos leaking via those social-media sites the Valley keeps churning out!
“Ostentatious displays tend to draw more scorn than awe,” the Times argues, and observers agree that the trend isn’t merely the result of techies waiting too late to book their venue, ensuring all the good ones were taken.
TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis told the Times that, “Outliers like Parker serve as a warning for the rest of the group. Everyone here just wants to give off the aura that they’re working hard.” Alice Marwick, a Fordham assistant professor who recently married Harry Heymann, Foursquare’s head of engineering, in a low-key ceremony, suggested that “There’s a sense that you’re doing something good for the world, and that doesn’t go hand in hand with flashy weddings or buying a Prada backpack.”
But for all techies flatter themselves with the notion they’re down-t0-Earth, this attitude has the distinct whiff of a Greenwich debutante turning up her nose at one of those elaborate New Jersey wedding gowns, with the transparent corset and the crystals. It’s a very “not our kind, dear” kind of snobbery, like the proudly shabby WASPs of yore, and it doesn’t do much to refute the notion that Silicon Valley is calcifying into its own elite enclave. Determined non-flashiness is its own form of conspicuous consumption.
Besides, at least Sean Parker’s stupidly expensive wedding is going to deliver a real experience for out-of-town guests who bothered schlepping to Big Sur. If you’re going to drag your family and friends into the woods, risking bug bites, the least you can do is provide $9 million worth of decor and a custom-made costume.