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Chelsea speaks with Brianna Wu, a software engineer and executive director of the Rebellion PAC, about her experience post-GamerGate, the radicalization of young men through crypto, and the loneliness epidemic that is plaguing men.

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Hello, everyone.

It is I, Chelsea Fagan, Founder and CEO of The Financial Diet and person who loves talking about money. And welcome to this week's episode of The Financial Confessions.

And before we get started, I want to thank HelloFresh for supporting this episode of The Financial Confessions. Go to hellofresh.com/TFC16 and use code TFC16 for up to 16 free meals and three free gifts. And today, I wanted to talk about a topic that comes up peripherally in a lot of our other conversations and interviews, especially when they intersect with things like policy and politics, but also, unsurprisingly, when we talk about things like the crypto phenomenon.

Often what we're talking about, even when we're just talking about basic everyday personal finance choices, are the contexts in which we live. And in the case of Millennials and Gen Z, an increasingly bleak financial and economic landscape in which to navigate. A lot of the things that were possible if not easy for our parents' generation are pretty inaccessible to young people today.

That's things like affordable education, being able to enter into the housing market, being able to support a family on a single income, having strong well-protected union jobs, having comprehensive benefits, and all of the other things that used to be the hallmark of America's world-class middle class. We think often that a lot of the political and economic contexts in which we live today-- for example, how low relatively taxes are on the richest in our society or even just the current level of income inequality, but this stuff is actually not a given. America didn't always used to be this way.

And we are living with the fallout of a financial and economic system and policies that are increasingly deregulated, that increasingly favor the financial institutions and allow them to run roughshod over the middle class, things like private equity, things like a very loosely regulated Wall Street. All of this stuff has come up with a context where young adults, and in particular, young men are pretty disenfranchised, and they're not able to live the lives, be the providers, and have that sort of masculine cultural image that they were taught to expect for themselves. This is leading a lot of young people to become totally disenfranchised with the system as it exists, or in a lot of cases, to become outright radicalized.

Cryptocurrency for men is often talked about as being a masculine MLM, and there are ways in which that's true. There are ways in which the comparison is not perfectly accurate. But a lot of what it gets at, and where it does have a lot of merit, is that it offers a quick and easy and ultimately fraudulent solution to a group of people who really do have pretty serious complaints with our current system and not a whole lot of opportunity for how to get themselves out of it.

So while we do kind of peripherally touch on these issues, I wanted to take an episode to really deep-dive into where we are economically and politically, where it's leaving our young people, where they're turning to in order to find solutions, and where the better longer-term solutions might actually be. My guest today is someone who has a pretty interesting level of familiarity and visibility in the worlds of tech and media and politics, and has quite a lot to say on all of those and more from a perspective I think we don't often hear enough, because quite frankly, often the people who know enough about what's going on in the tech world don't really know all that much about what's happening economically or politically. My guest today is currently the Executive Director of the Rebellion Political Action Committee, which is a PAC which supports progressive candidates and doesn't take corporate money.

She's also a developer, she has a really good Twitter, and she knows quite a lot about the very specific moment that we're in. Her name is Brianna Wu. Thank you for joining us.

Thank you so much. It is an absolute honor to be here. When Frank and I-- unfortunately his father passed away a few years ago, and we found ourselves with an inheritance to deal with.

And I literally mainlined to your YouTube channel trying to figure out what the smartest way was to invest that money. So thank you for everything you do. It certainly made a big impact on my life.

Oh, well thank you for that. That has made my day. So for our audience who may not be as familiar with you, can you talk a little bit about your tech and media background and then where you are in politics right now?

Yeah. I think I've had an interesting life story. Around 2010-- yeah, I'm a trained software engineer and I saw a real opening in the iPhone market.

There was a moment that we were really bringing a sophisticated graphics engine over to iPhone. And I had been upset about the poor representation of women in games for my entire her career. So I launched a studio with a fairly simple mission.

I just wanted to make video games where women could be the hero. I hired as many women as I could to help me launch my studio. And we shipped a game there was amazing and got multiple Game of the Year awards.

From there, along the way, I found myself, more so than other careers I'd been in, really forced to speak out about the working conditions for women in tech, which is just frankly, it's a terrible place for women to work. One thing led to another and I found myself at the center of this national hate movement known as Gamergate. There's not a good way to have a Law & Order episode made about you, but that happened to me, and it was very much about this phenomenon that today we call the alt-right targeting women speaking out.

From there, I ran for United States Congress in 2018 after Trump won. I didn't win, but I did pick up a lot of skills along the way, things like fundraising, the bread and butter things you need to do to run a political campaign. And then Cenk over at Young Turks came to me and asked me if I wanted to start a PAC to get Progressive candidates elected, and that's exactly what we did, and formed the Rebellion PAC.

That is quite a story. I love that. It is-- one of the reasons that I really wanted to talk to you specifically is because I think a lot of people who have Progressive political values often become so disenfranchised with the entire process and so overwhelmed by, I think, the resources and the efficiency that the political right has, or even to some extent, the democratic establishment has in the US.

That they feel that it's not even worth participating in and will focus more on whether it's local community efforts, mutual aid, unionizing in the workplace, all of which are good and necessary. But I do notice quite a lot of people who I agree with really kind of opting out of the more traditional political system. Can you talk a little bit about what motivated you to get specifically and directly involved with electoral politics?

So I'd like to zoom the question out and talk about why Progressives lose so much. And for me, I want to talk about why I lost in 2018. And at the core of it, it's because we don't have the resources and we don't have the same approach to winning elections that the more establishment-- certainly establishment Democrats and even the Republicans have.

Just speaking really honestly, I think Progressive candidates do not take the fundraising seriously enough. I literally sat in this chair when I was running for office for 30 hours a week fundraising. And it's not fun.

You're calling up strangers asking for $2,800 over and over again. It's everyone you've ever met in your life. It's very draining work, and a lot of progressives, just because we obviously don't want money in the system, but we're a little less willing to do that work.

And the average congressional campaign costs about $1.25 million. So what I see is it's a lack of structure. And by structure, I mean know it's financial donations, but it's also information infrastructure.

Your local congressperson who's elected right now, they don't sweat getting on the ballot going out to get 2,000 people to sign signatures to get you on the ballot. They have a system in place of friends that will just sign that for them and then it just shows up and they're on the ballot. These are all these hurdles that Progressives just not have-- we've not put the time into building that out.

So for me as a software engineer, we're coming in there from a very data-driven point of view. We want to highlight-- we essentially want to build a database of where Progressive voters are. So it's not just about winning at the top of the Congressional race, we can pass that information along to local candidates.

And then it's basically identifying where our voters are so we can start to make more headway. Something that I think often really sticks out to me and is very frustrating on just like a human level is the extent to which a lot of Progressive values, especially economically, financially, things like a strong powerful labor movement, comprehensive paternity leave, universal health care, a living wage, all of these things are extremely popular across the political spectrum. And I think we've seen on the right, especially with for example figures like Tucker Carlson, there is, I think, increasingly a very-- there's a savvy class of people who are able to exploit the fact that these things are popular by falsely speaking to them, falsely alluding to them.

But yet somehow, we're never able-- we're never able to connect the dots of these things are very popular. Even people who oppose them understand that they're popular and manipulate them. Why aren't they getting implemented?

So at the beginning of this, you noted that-- I'm somebody that works within the system with what I do, like raising money for candidates directly, s like getting involved directly in primaries. So I usually preface that before I answer your question and say I'm somebody that believes in staying involved with the system. But to be really honest, it's not something I understood until I ran for office just how much the bread and butter of the Democratic Party, in my opinion, gives lip service to all those things that you're talking about.

The truth is, there are power structures that exist in every single state. And I really saw that up close when I ran for office. The guy I'm running against, he believes in unions, as do I, but he had a huge mechanism there to get that support.

And then because of that particular support, he's a little less likely to support things that might address our housing crisis because it upsets the real estate developer monopoly that funds these campaigns. So the long and short answer of it is, we really have a class of people that are elected that are invested in their own political power, and they'll say what they have to say, but especially because there's such a huge age difference between us, they just don't understand what people are facing today in the same way. So I believe very strongly, we need a new generation of leaders that can stand up and really fight for those issues.

Something that really defines me is, I don't talk a lot about growing up LGBT in Mississippi, but I did. And I was homeless when I came out. That's something that really affected me very strongly.

To this day, I still have flashbacks about sleeping in my car for months. And I think that a lot of elected officials today just have never had experienced that side of America where if you're down and out, there's no system there to help you. So I just I think that the fact is, we don't have a very good class of leaders right now, and we need to look at replacing them.

Ain't that the truth. You mentioned that you were really heavily targeted by the sort of, quote, "Gamergate movement." I blessedly was not really a part of that, wasn't even overly aware of it when it was happening. But I know-- I mean, I can only imagine how difficult that that was and how upsetting it was.

But I also-- one thing that I think-- between that and when you see like, for example, there's that account Libs of TikTok that often is-- I mean, sometimes they'll post things that are fairly egregious, but often they're just like posting like a gay elementary school teacher who is wearing a rainbow shirt for Pride Month around students, things like that. There is, I think, on the political and cultural right a very, very strong sort of tradition of, quote, "cancellation" or of harassment and things like that. But one thing where-- one area where I-- it's not that I envy it, but I wonder what there is to learn in the sense that-- with some exception, there is some infighting, there is some sectarianism on the right.

But I've always felt that they, at least online, have a much stronger tendency to present a united front to make alliances across ideological differences. I mean, like a religious authoritarian like Ben Shapiro is able to make an alliance with a right wing-- like a Dave Rubin, like a right wing gay man even though their beliefs are in some ways mutually exclusive, at least on social issues. So when I look at the conversation of Cancel Culture and all that sort of stuff, I think a lot of it's blown out of proportion.

I think a lot of it is also being leveraged in really bad faith, often by a right wing media political bubble that uses it to their own ends. But as someone who's pretty steeped in-- at least on YouTube, I'm very familiar with left wing YouTube, not all, but a lot of those [BLEEP] hate each other. And are constantly going after each other, constantly just like canceling each other, especially some of the bigger figures between and amongst themselves, but also between their audiences.

And we're talking often about people who have a 98% agreement rate. And I'm wondering, as someone who has been on such a receiving end of such a massive and bad faith actual cancellation, what your view is on the, quote, "cancellation," or at the very least, the non-extension of good faith that can often happen in Progressive circles? I think it's our most self-destructive tendency.

I've actually-- I've never heard you talk about where you grew up, but I grew up in Mississippi. And I grew up in a very far-right, like religiously fundamentalist, go to church three times a week hardcore Republican family. Yeah.

I myself was Republican up until-- I was-- I think about-- it took me until I was about 23 to think my way out of it. I actually-- my earliest experiences were actually in politics were working for Republicans. And I would just ask anyone out there, like please, have some-- you have to understand, growing up in Mississippi, I didn't understand what liberals were.

Like I was taking Rush Limbaugh's word for what a liberal was. I had to go out in the world and actually meet some liberals and Progressives and kind of think my way out of that deprogramming. But the reason I bring that up is I've really been on both sides of this equation.

And to this day, I am stunned by this tendency on the left to focus on-- it's like there's a-- there's a culture of you're more interested in being right about everything than you're interested in accomplishing the mission objective. One of the reasons-- like you talked about a lot of YouTubers not getting along with one another. One of the reasons I really like Cenk and love working for Cenk at Young Turks, people do not understand, like people have the completely wrong idea of this man.

He is such a pragmatic, bring people together, let's not focus on any of the stupid stuff and focus on the mission objective for the leftists. It is just truly astonishing. And I would really urge anyone out there-- honestly, when you're talking about the problems of capitalism or you're talking about this policy or that policy-- school choice, that's one.

I don't believe in school vouchers. But I would really urge all of us to think about, what is our mission objective? What is the big thing that we need to accomplish?

And I think we need to spend a lot less time screaming at each other and a lot more donating to candidates we believe in, volunteering for candidates we believe in, or running for office ourselves. Because if you're not doing one of those three things, I'm not sure you're actually helping move the ball forward. Yeah.

I mean, I completely agree. It's also a question of how willing are you to accept recent converts, because especially at scale, no political movement can really be built that isn't OK with someone joining in and isn't eager for someone to join in who yesterday was maybe voting for the other guy, or had feelings that you didn't agree with. And using our channel as an example, we all the time have people in our comments talking about how their entry point and their worldview for a long time in the world of personal finance was like someone like Dave Ramsey, who is an incredibly noxious figure for all kinds of reasons and also probably runs one of the most misogynistic workplaces on the face of the Earth, honestly.

But to me, even if you still watch him, if you watch some of our stuff, too, that's a win. If you are getting even one-- one out of every 10 pieces of information is coming from us rather than staying in that echo chamber, and if you're wanting to come over bit by bit to a different worldview, to me that's a victory, and I think to a lot of people who are very, like you said, pragmatically-minded in the political policy world, that is a victory and that's a positive. But I do think for a lot of people, it is very, very difficult to accept newcomers or to even accept people who are not yet ideologically consistent enough.

Yeah. No, I think that's dead-on. And Dave Ramsey is the reason-- like he started in Tennessee.

I listened to a lot of Dave Ramsey. He's the reason I didn't fall into a whole lot of student debt. He's the reason I've literally never had a credit card and I'm 44 years old.

There is good there. But I think if we're-- I think it's exactly like you said. We've got to have that on-ramp.

I also-- something to think about a lot is-- talking about the alt-right a bit, the Washington Post did a story about this with me a few weeks ago. It was actually a few months ago. I had tweeted about the astonishing number of Gamergaters that have-- Gamergate was eight years ago at this point.

They've come to me in the time since, have been like, I just want to let you know, I've grown up a lot, I realize what I did was wrong. I think about it all the time. I'm deeply ashamed and I'm personally asking you for forgiveness.

I get at least one or two of those emails a week literally. And I always tell those people like, you know what? I appreciate you reaching out to me.

And you're forgiven. Like, I appreciate that you understand what you did, why it hurt so many people now. I think as a culture, as we're talking about cancel culture, I think it's two ways.

Clearly when you look at the way women are treated in society, and especially given the events of this last week, we don't have consequences for bad men in my opinion that really make a difference. I also think at the same time, there's got to be a cultural way for people to make a mistake and move forward. To get cultural forgiveness and learn a lesson and move forward.

Because if you don't have that, you just end up treating people as disposable. It's just not a-- it's not a tenable way to run a society. I'll give you one good example.

My boss, Cenk over at the Young, Turks, he's been on the air every single month for literally years at this point. My God, probably since 2002. And along the way, he's made some pretty sexist jokes.

But it was like 10 years ago. And he apologizes for these jokes that he's made. And for me working with him, I can tell you, I've never had, as a very visible feminist in the tech industry, never had a nanosecond of sexism working with him ever.

This is someone that apologized and learned their lesson and tried to do better and lives the values that he's talking about now. We don't have that kind of redemption process for a lot of people out there. So especially as we are literally talking about an entire generation of young men that I feel, with compassion, are teetering on the edge of some very dangerous ideas.

We have got to have a way to bring them back to light, to let them close that chapter of their life, learn a lesson, treat people differently, and move on. Because if we don't have that, we're literally just throwing them out there to the Republicans, and it's going to hurt us as much as it hurts them. There's a really weird dichotomy of power, I think, happening in our culture where politically and economically-- and it's difficult to say politically and economically that it's right or left, that it's Democrat or Republican.

Clearly it's corporatist. Clearly it's the ultra wealthy. And they can be superficially Democrat or superficially Republican, but ultimately we're talking about the interest of capital and privatized wealth.

And clearly on every sort of structural end, like that's winning. But yet we are in this media climate where it seems as though there is a liberal monopoly on it, yet I think most people would agree-- and I mean, Pride Month is always the funniest month in that regard with like Halliburton painting some of their scud missiles in rainbow flags or whatever. But there is, I think-- and I think that this is what often will allow the right wing to gain a lot of moral or ideological traction, is this ambience of a liberal monoculture, but anyone with real Progressive values will feel quite the opposite, that this is just another way of corporatism to access both sides.

So how do you frame in your mind what you consider to be a victory for real Progressive causes when so much of what we have is so hollow and superficial? Boy, that's such a great question. And it's really tough.

Like you mentioned Pride Month. I'm so torn on that, because the big thing on Twitter last week was the Marines put out something-- it was a helmet like Full Metal Jacket. And had all the bullets on it colored rainbow.

And it was like-- Oh my god. We accept you. We support LGBT people if you want to join up.

It's like on one hand, I really understand the backlash to that. It's empty, it's disturbing, almost, to try to unify the concept of liberalism or LGBT people with literally war. Like its kind of stomach-churning.

But then I see it on the other side, too. Mississippi has more people serving per capita than any other state in the country. I personally could name 100 or 200 people I knew growing up that joined the military just to escape poverty.

My own father was one of them. He started an OB-GYN clinic, it became an entire network, was eventually bought out by hospital. And by him basically serving in the military, it was his way to escape literal poverty in Mississippi.

So for me, I remember being a child in the '90s and really going, boy, I would like to serve my country in some way. I would join the military. But knowing that because I was queer, it just was closed off to me.

So I see something like that and I'm like, wow, this has really changed in my lifetime. That's very different. So I look at something like that and I ask myself like, is this really the fight we need to be having today?

Is this a distraction? Is this about making me feel good? Or is this really going to bring the values I believe in forward?

And I think all of us need to really ask ourself that question more often. You brought up the alt-right before this, something I hope we can talk about more. They are so freaking effective at throwing out this stupid idea and getting us to spend all of our effort dunking on it, because we on the left love smugly dunking on dumb ideas.

And what we don't understand is when we do that, we fall into their framing. Because we're arguing against the thing that they want us to argue about. Take this massive school shooting last week.

We're not talking about gun safety legislation as much as we're talking how stupid it is this idea to have one door to a school. And we've got to stop falling for this. I think we need to be really bold and correct and saying what we believe in and talk about the vision we want to have for the country, which at its core, is more economic opportunity for everybody, not just the very wealthy.

And I think if you're not talking about that, you're talking out the wrong stuff. Well said. Well said.

Also on that note, Texas and that atrocity, if anyone wants to join me phone banking for Beto, we got a little thread going. Just email me, chelsea@thefinancialdiet.com, you can join. But I totally agree.

I mean, I think that there's a massive need to of reclaim the terms of the conversation. I think that's a really, really important point. I mean, I think it's been a very, very strange couple of years in terms of where the ball is going as far as the cultural distraction conversation that is put forward.

I mean, it's interesting, because I feel like for a very long time, politically and economically in America, the goal was economic deregulation that favors corporations, that favors the wealthy. And for a class of people, I would say-- I would even include to some extent, people like Rush Limbaugh, certainly most of congressional Republicans, most mainstream Republicans, the really tedious culture war stuff about-- at the time in the '90s, it was a lot of-- it was a lot of gay people, it was a lot of women in the kitchen, it was a lot of that kind of stuff. But for the most part, it seemed pretty clear that it was a pretty cynical way to just drum up interest from the average person who, on paper, no average person is going to want to be like, yeah, I do think that Wall Street should be even less regulated and I should be-- and my job should be even more precarious.

Like, no one's going to go for that, but they might go for a gay person teaching in school is going to turn your child gay and I gotta fight against that. So I think that there was a long time where that was just a cover for ultimately what were the economic goals. And at least from my perspective, and I would really be interested in yours as someone who's been much more in the system, it seems now like we're getting more and more true believers who actually don't really want the further financial deregulation.

Like maybe they'll be OK with it just to align with GOP caucuses, but that's not their goal. Like they actually are most motivated by this culture stuff. And so I'm wondering, when you're looking at people who can be won over, because I think a lot of the times, those who seem most winnable are the people who economically really agree with you and might be easily distracted, now for me it's seeming harder to determine who's actually more ideologically aligned and just being shoved toward the wrong conversation and who is still, on some level, winnable if that makes sense.

No, I think it makes perfect sense. It's such an insightful question. I would-- you'd mentioned Rush Limbaugh.

For me, growing up in Mississippi way back then, I think it's really hard to underscore how complicated the answers are that liberalism and Progressivism offers the world. Like ultimately, conservatism is telling a very simple story about why the world is broken. Our story is a lot more complicated, because you're talking about structural racism, you're talking issues with policing, you're talking on deregulation, you're talking about Glass-Steagall.

It's a more accurate picture of the world, but it's just-- Something I learned running for Congress is all of us that are interested in this stuff vastly, like crazily overestimate the amount that normal people are thinking about this stuff. All of us. And it's not to say-- like ordinary voters, it's not to say they're not dumb.

They just-- their lives are more focused on other things. And when they vote, it's just a smaller part of their identity than it is for us. And I think we've got to get much, much better at telling stories about why America is the way that it is today.

I want to return to another point that you made earlier about the Progressive infighting. And something I think about all the time. You cannot look at any successful movement in American history, like really large movement, that didn't involve coalition-building.

When you look at, really, any of it-- Civil Rights, women getting the right to vote, the LGBT movement, gay marriage, all of it, there have been really hard, unfair decisions made along the way that held a coalition together to move the ball forward. And I would certainly never justify everything that we've decided to do with those coalitions, because some of those decisions were just flat out the wrong thing. But I do think that when you're on Twitter or social media and we spend so much time infighting, what I've seen in my career is the most effective people in this space are people that naturally bring people together, and try to form larger movements, and try to find places that we agree on, and try to form those bigger movements to go forward.

So something I see a lot, especially as a woman in this space, I see sexist stuff literally every single day. And I think you have to be thoughtful about when you're going to really fight those battles, because something I saw running for office is there are a lot of good people that just don't have this Progressive language that we have being in this movement. And we need a way to onboard them.

And I think part of that is we need, frankly, s what your channel is doing. You are a channel with a very different set of values than the rest of the financial industry. And I know there are a lot of women, even friends of mine that watch you.

You are an onboarding process to tell people a story about why things aren't working, and we need to focus on ways to do that that basically build people into coalitions rather than tearing us into different factions. If you've been following TFD for any amount of time, you'll know how many of us love to cook, and that many of us love HelloFresh. Whether you're an avid home cook or someone who is just learning their way around the kitchen, HelloFresh makes cooking at home both easy and enjoyable.

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Would you-- Can we talk about NFTs now? I want to talk about this, oh my god. Yes.

So speaking of NFTs as an example, I would love to hear-- because obviously, I mean, there are just endless political distractions out there, and there-- I mean, there is enough institutional money in crypto and NFTs now that I think we can say like, it is clearly serving a greater ideological purpose for the power players, which, in my opinion, is mostly just even more financial deregulation for the most part and a complete collapse of faith in any kind of financial institutions that stabilizes our currency, which like, have fun when that comes to a fruition. But what is your kind of stance on not just crypto and NFTs as a concept, s but how they really intersect with our political landscape? So it's such a great question, because I think a lot of people are looking at our current financial system and I think they are correctly perceiving that the game is rigged against them.

I mean, just look at Wall Street. At the end of the day, I have to put my money somewhere to get a rate of return to get to retirement. So I've got to invest in Wall Street.

At the same time, if you understand things like payment for order flow, I mean, the game is completely rigged against individual people. It's a game this rigged to cheat. So I think a lot of younger peoples particularly are looking at that system and they're making the right diagnosis that the game is rigged.

But the thing they're doing with that information is so much worse. My first journey through cryptocurrency is when I ran for Congress in 2018, I had a ton of people ask me about this. And I wasn't as familiar with it.

Bitcoin back then, I think it was worth about $6,000. I bought 300 of it-- $300 of it on a lark just to understand how Coinbase wallet worked and all of that. And my opinion back in 2018 was, if you're trying to get like diversifying assets, I thought at the time it made sense to have some amount of cryptocurrency integrated into our financial system.

I could see particular ways this was a useful thing to have. But it's not-- when I did this, it was 2017. So we're a long way from what the promise of cryptocurrency and the derivatives like NFT are, and what the reality of it is today.

And I feel like what a lot of younger people haven't done is really updated that paradigm in their mind about what they're being sold. Because the reality is, as much as you correctly think Wall Street and the financial system is rigged against normal people, cryptocurrency is a free-for-all with fraud. Like when you are working with a product that just casually has a term like rug pull to just denote someone that created something and made a bunch of promises and took all your money and ran, that's something you should think very carefully about investing in.

So when you look at NFTs, I really think-- it's almost this the same fallacy that you see with a live single-stock investors, where they just want to get rich really quick and they're going to invest in that one thing and just hold it and it's going to go all the way to the moon. But the reality is, when you really start studying this entire class of things, it's rotten top to bottom. I mean, you look at the Bored Ape NFTs even today, there was a story, I think, for around $64,000 that they were taken for again because it was hacked.

If you look at the way gas fees work for like mining-- creating NFTs in the first place and how that works with the Ethereum Marketplace, I mean, it's barely holding together. So you look at this entire class of asset and it's just-- it's not worth spending your money on. And I just really worry about this generation of young men that's looking at this and truly believing in it.

I had a tweet the other day that got I think close to 30,000 retweets that was about my fear that when cryptocurrency comes crashing down, the entire generation of young men are going to turn to fascism just from the entire fury they're feeling at the entire system. So I think that-- I really think you're talking about a product that is a perfect mix of like this male confidence game and a bad technical product, and something that's just entirely unregulated, and a way to really take advantage of people that don't have a lot to give. No, I think that's really, really on point.

And I think-- to get into the alt-right and specifically-- because it's definitely not limited to the right wing, but there's definitely, I think, a lot of both ideological and cultural alignment, the crypto as answer to an enormous amount of real problems. It's really interesting. Over the years, I have found myself evolving a lot in terms of specifically gender politics as they pertain to economics, the workforce, all of these things.

I'm in a pretty interesting position in that I am a woman who is somewhat public figure in a typically very male-dominated genre. So certainly have gotten my share of nasty comments, hate, weird, bizarre-- mostly men sending weird bizarre things. It's really interesting, because I've sort of, over the years, and especially as we've seen what's happened in crypto over the past year or two years where-- I mean, no one I have more contempt for in this world than the people who are like, we need more women in the NFT space.

Like the fact that we're so comically underrepresented is like one of the best things women have going for us, it's like 19% or something of like I think the major buyers. But what I've found in the past couple of years especially when you see this increasing desperation of largely young men-- and it actually is more racially diverse, for example, than a lot of other phenomena. Like many people stereotype crypto as being a white male phenomenon.

It's actually fairly diverse, but it is very strongly male and very strongly young male. And I found especially in that, although I definitely think women in many, many ways, in the US especially compared to other developed countries, we do face systemic oppression, we do face all kinds of really terrible issues. But in some ways, I feel, I mean, glad to be a woman in some ways, because I do feel that at minimum, we have a language for discussing and understanding and building community and expressing, I think, a more nuanced range of reactions to these situations that we're talking about.

Whereas a lot of men who are very socialized to achieve this very specific gender ideal that is very financial in nature, it's very professional in nature, and is also really built on this idea of being incredibly stoic, having very little emotional support systems-- men statistically-- heterosexual men have very few friends as they age. When you look at the cultural context and you look at the ways in which young men are then acting out and trying to find these solutions that are often very predatory, I do feel, like you said, an enormous compassion for them, but I also feel that because, in many ways, it's other men who are holding them back in this regard and creating these systems and exploiting them, that it's an even more complicated political project than, for example, for women fighting for the right to choose, it's mostly men who are making this legislation. We have a collective enemy, whereas for men in a lot of ways, the call is coming from inside the house.

And I feel very, especially being so removed from it for some time, confused on where to even start to deal with it. Well, I really hear and agree with everything you just said. I think-- how can I put this?

I think the story of most young men today is a really heartbreaking story of loneliness and pain. So I have had the chance to meet a lot of the alt writers that sent me death threats, rape threats, all that stuff during Gamergate. And I've met some of them giving college talks.

And I came to the realization, these are monsters. These are deeply undersocialized, deeply lonely men looking for a father figure. And I think something that's changed is a generation ago, I think those young men may have gotten that social path given to them by the military or church or their local Boy Scouts.

We had more systems for young men to participate in. Something I think that started to change with my generation where I was in the last year of Gen X, and especially for Millennials and younger, is that you really got those father figures in that community online. And I think anyone that spent any amount of time on 4chan or 8chan or even Reddit can tell you, it's a deeply, deeply, deeply sexist, hateful, cynical place.

And I think we're literally just sending an entire generation of men to-- I think they're emotionally starving to be honest with you. I think they are-- I think they are socialized to not be able to express-- it's like they've got four crayons of emotional color, whereas women have a big box of 64 crayons. And I think they just have this limited language to explain what they feel, and so much of it comes out in just anger and toxicity.

So I have compassion for that on one hand. On the other, it's exactly as you say. As we look at this last terrible, terrible week that women have had, who's leading the charge on a lot of these things?

It's men. And there's got to be a wider conversation about what's going on with men, and the institutions, they need to grow up healthier. Because I think if I try to have that, I'm a well-known feminist in the tech industry.

I come across as shrill or judgmental, anything that's helpful in that moment. I really think we need a generation of more stable men in their 30s and 40s to step up and spend more time serving the community and shepherding these younger boys in a better direction. Because if you don't, it's going to be Breitbart and 4chan and 8chan and all the literal worst forces you can think of.

Unfortunately, a lot of the men who are really-- they have their [BLEEP] together to that extent emotionally and ideologically, they're not online that much. So they're not going to be out there making TikToks to teach men, but I totally agree. And it's interesting, the comment about some limited emotional crayons, I think a lot of it overlaps with-- I think it's safe to say, we're pretty much at the very last dregs of the girl boss stuff.

The CEO of Glossier just stepped down and I that was one of the last real girlbosses of that-- I would say from like the Sheryl Sandberg to the nasty gal to all that stuff. And obviously most people-- now we have enough data, s we have enough anecdotes to say, OK, that was a massive failure, it was a misdirection. But I think it was also-- I think what women learned in the rejection of it, at least what I think a lot of people-- a lot of women around me, I think, have learned is that a lot of that particular wave of feminism was about sublimating femininity to emulate men and to really play by their rules professionally as effectively as you can.

And again, for example, we're all women on our staff. And I think everyone on the team at least once has probably cried at work. Maybe more than once.

Which, to me, is like eminently normal. We're human beings. We've had children born, we've had deaths in the family, we've had crises of personal stress, whatever.

But the very masculine playbook of professional and financial seriousness would immediately categorize that as wrong, as something that needs to be suppressed, as something that's inherently unprofessional, et cetera. And that kind of girlboss wave of feminism, I think, was very much about pursuing that, whereas I think now for me, it's like I couldn't imagine working in a place where crying if you were under a great deal of stress or what have you would be seen as a negative. And so I wonder, how do we give young men who are starving for the economic and social role and stability that they are taught to emulate, how do we give them space to grieve the fact that they can't have it in our current financial system?

It's such a tough question. And the workplaces I've built, it's very similar to yours. I tend to hire more women just because when you're the boss, you get to do that.

You get to give people a fair shake. And we have our work spaces the exact same way. You can talk very openly about what's happening, you can invite your children.

I don't care about having a meeting with the screaming child, I've done it a thousand times. It's just normal. So I think the first step is for us to identify the problem, but also to-- I also think there are standards that we have to have.

I've seen this so often in the tech industry, women sublimating our own emotions and our own, frankly, mental health for the sake of a male coworker. And I think to some extent, this is really a problem that men need to solve for themselves. And we can be supportive and give them space, but we're really not the problem in this scenario.

And I just-- I feel like I personally have given a lot on this particular political agenda, s and I'm just-- I'm honestly not sure what we can do this productive at this point other than let them know we see their pain, we think that pain is valid, we understand the damage has been done to them emotionally, and we're not going to judge you if you cry or if you do have those emotions. But other than that, this is-- I mean, it's truly a generational crisis and we've got to take it far more seriously. I totally agree.

Well, let this be the moment to say, The Financial Diet hears and sees young men's pain, especially as it-- especially economically. I mean, the thing is that women-- women are raised with all kinds of horrible ideals of what we need to aspire to, our ultimate definition is getting married and having a big wedding and all of these incredibly superficial consumerist ideals. But for the most part, I mean, you can put a wedding on a credit card.

Like they have payment plans. Like most people can-- weddings have only gotten more elaborate, more expensive, more over the top in the years. But men who were raised with this very, very specific ideal of what financial success means for a man, it's not really possible for most men.

And women, yes, I think are increasingly forced into the workplace, but for better or worse, our careers are still not, I think, the pinnacle of how especially most of us were raised to perceive ourselves. So yeah, that completely sucks. I would feel absolutely taken for a ride, which you guys have been, as have we.

And my answer is unionize your workplace. That's my first stop. But on that note, I mean, so it's a really hard balance to walk, even in the content we create, from being like, this is all a terrible system.

We have horrible fiscal policies in the US. We have created an economic catastrophe and are expecting people to fight for scraps in the street, so to speak. But still gotta contribute to that 401(k) and build that credit score.

It's a really hard line to walk. And I know that you have to walk it all the time with like, this is wrong, this is horrible, the political system is so broken, blah, blah, blah, please donate to my candidate. Right.

And how do you give-- --looking at Beto. This is a flawed candidate. But he's such a massive step up in a trillion different ways than what we can have.

So don't get confused with the perfect for the better. Well, on that note, then, whether it's Beto or someone else, how do you give people hope when you're speaking to them while still acknowledging all that we've discussed? Well, if we didn't have power, they wouldn't need to spend so much time telling us how powerless we are.

So at the end of the day, you still gotta get elected. And we do have more power than they do. So I think it's not that-- I think that our message needs to be, we have got to fight smarter.

And something I really love about your YouTube channel is, look, for me personally in my life, it can be unfair the way that women are treated from a payment perspective, like fair wages and time off and family leave, and I can get a bad rap for A, B, and C. But ultimately at the end of the day, I've got to hit my mortgage payment. I gotta keep my cars running.

I got to wake up and go to work every single day. And there does have to be a certain kind of gritty financial "let's get it done" reality to what I'm trying to accomplish in my financial life and also my political life. So I really just think the answer is for all of us to be pragmatic and to put-- something I really think about a lot is, I can't fight every battle, but I can fight the right ones.

So pick the ones-- pick the things that you think are really important and focus on that and try to make it better. Because I think if you look at the entire system, it just makes you want to give up. I would love to get your opinion on this.

Do you see generally in your friend groups and people that you network with outside your company, do you see women standing up and advocating for themselves to get paid enough? Because I do not. I mean, there's a bit of selection bias happening amongst the women I socialize with.

Typically they're also fairly into the personal finance of it all and whatnot. So yes to some extent. I will say, though, that if you broaden it out to the people I barely-- I have not posted on Facebook in years like many of us, but when I'm on there and I see women from my hometown high school, college, that kind of thing, I think much less so.

And I think it's not even-- I think that's when I start to see the aggregate numbers that were often made aware of in personal finance about how women in general even in their own households and heterosexual relationships don't make the financial decisions even when they work, even when they earn more, even when they're more educated, all of that stuff. Because I do think in general, women are so dissuaded from speaking about money, that especially the idea of speaking about money in what is for many women a male-dominated work atmosphere, especially your superiors at work, the people making these decisions, it's nearly impossible for them to do it. However, to kind of take it back to-- so when it comes to the distraction versus the ball in this area, like I really don't feel that it's all that valuable to keep beating the drum about the wage gap.

I actually think we've had almost decades now of very girlboss talk about the wage gap and closing it and this, that, and the other. I actually think now, like even if we were to superficially close the wage gap, there are so many ways of doing that only benefit women earning over a certain amount or only benefit white women or only benefit women who are already middle class or above. So I do think that that, to me, has almost become the distraction and what is the actual ball is like strengthening labor laws, basically, which should apply across the gender spectrum.

No, I 100% agree with that. I was really surprised to learn the other day that as far as wages, women without children actually do better in some circumstances than men with children just as far as where you are in your career and moving on up. So I'm 100% in agreement with you there.

I do think, though, something I see a lot on the political side is women afraid to send invoices or raise their rates. And I do think that something you can really do or at least something I try to do as a leader or a boss is I had someone that does accounting work for me the other day send me an invoice. And I looked at this and I was like, you're just not charging me enough for this.

I need you to raise your rates, we've certainly got the money in the bank. And I think women are really trained not to do that. So I'm not saying like put all the pressure on that, but I certainly see structurally in the many fields I've worked in, from the video game industry to politics, I do think there's this-- I think we're trained socially to not stand up and ask for-- to be paid better.

And I see this as a big problem. And I think we could do a better job of having each other's back. One thing I try to do is really advocate for the other women I work with in situations and to have their back when it comes to issues like raise or time off for vacation or all of those issues.

I really think that when we work together as a group, I think we can really get a lot accomplished. No, I think that's really well said, and I think-- one of the other things that I really do worry about from a social media perspective especially doing what I do-- and I know you're very aware of this, too, is looking at like, for example, the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard thing. I'm certainly not wading into that.

Not my wheelhouse, whatever, I couldn't care less. But what I will say is that there is an effect of-- for people-- whether or not-- whatever your stance might be on an issue, talking about an issue, tweeting about an issue, fighting with someone, dunking on them in a quote tweet, pointing out how stupid it is, whatever, the algorithms don't make the difference between who's saying what about what. All they can tell is that it's a trending topic.

People are interested, people are talking about it. And then they're going to surface it, and then news outlets are going to write pieces on how it's a trending topic and it's a debate, and then that helps it get framed as like a both sides debate, which I think we do see a lot of-- obviously when it comes to gender, LGBT issues, things like that, we also see quite a lot of it when it comes to things like gun control issues. That by focusing on what are often distractions and splinter aspects of the story, we are, I think-- even when we're sharing things that are trying to correct the record or trying to present an opposing view, ultimately algorithmically, we're just kind of feeding the beast.

Yeah, no, it's exactly. Like what's the underlying issue with the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard thing like fundamentally? What is the issue?

Like you want, I suppose, libel laws stronger? You want protections for like abused people in marriages. Like the core issues there, those are ultimately programs that, again, have been weakened.

So I think that it would be so much more productive for us to think about these things systemically and about what the policy is that we actually need in response to that. Yet no matter how you feel on that particular issue, I think the reality is, we do have a crisis of sexual violence against women in this country. So I think rather than trying to score a social media point there, that that's something you feel really passionately about, let's try to get some people elected that will fund that better.

In your own town, like go get to know your city council people. Make sure your local domestic violence shelter is funded adequately. I think you'll be stunned if you actually look at what they're trying to do with the resources that they're given.

All of us, I just-- I really feel so strongly about this, to be honest with you. Social media is a trap because it gives you the illusion of making you feel like you did something that lives up to your values, but it's not-- it's a tweet. So we all need to get so much more involved on these policies.

I totally agree. Also, challenge to everyone, is make the center of a political or social issue not a rich and famous person, just like we should stop focusing on how many female executives there are. I don't care how many-- how are the women paid at the company overall?

Like why is it always about the 1% of any given issue is my question. OK. So very quick, our rapid fire questions, whatever comes to mind.

Feel free to skip. And we'll get it going. What is the big financial secret of your industry?

And we'll say politics. For politics, it pays better than people understand. Being a nonprofit professional, think about everything I have to do in a given day.

I have to know how to fundraise, I have to know how to do FEC compliance, I have to know how to work with the IRS for the various tax classifications of it. Nonprofit professionals, especially executive directors, you can make a good chunk of money doing this. So what I think a lot of women that are passionate about these issues don't know is there's a world of difference between being a social media activist and being a paid professional that makes a living doing this.

Go develop their skills and make a good living doing it. Just out of curiosity, would you be comfortable sharing what you make? Sure.

It's over 100. Good for you. Look at that.

OK. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? What do I invest in?

I am-- I don't pretend to be very good at this stuff. So I invest with people that do understand these things. So the majority of my money, I just literally hand it to Vanguard to invest in their fund, because my long-term retirement strategy is to get that residual revenue that they have from long-term investments.

So that's what I invest in. Obviously, I also like a good vintage car. So what am I cheap about?

I really don't think I-- I have a philosophy that I would rather buy like one or two really, really good things rather than a bunch of cheap things. So I don't buy things often, but when I do, I do a ton of research into it to make sure that it's something that's going to last me literally decades. Love it.

What has been your best investment and why? Probably the Porsche. I have a 1986 Porsche 911 outside that is worth twice as much as what I bought it for, which I'm really thrilled about.

And my Boxster, I bought my Boxster for $6,000, it's worth about 30 right now. I have a 997 that I bought for 45, it's worth about 65. So if you understand this game, there's a lot of money to be made there.

Damn. Good for you. OK.

What has been your biggest money mistake and why? Biggest money mistake. I'd say launching a game studio was a-- my game won a lot of awards, but to be really honest, this game studio did not do very well financially.

Now a lot of that was Gamergate targeting my studio and making me so politically radioactive that my goal to go and launch a second video game, I found myself in the middle of a political S-storm about women in tech and harassment online that opened up other doors later. But just as far as dollars and cents, launching a video game studio, not a good financial decision. What is your biggest current money insecurity?

Biggest current money insecurity. My husband is older than I am. I'm 44.

He's 12 years older than I am. So I really worry that because he-- he currently knocks out our health care through his employer, which is in biotech. I really worry about trying to take care of our health care once he does retire, which is something he's hoping to do in the next five years.

So that really keeps me up at night wondering about health care costs, and I think it's why we need universal health care. I agree. What is the financial habit that has helped you the most?

I have literally never owned a credit card. I think that that's gotten me-- kept me out of a lot of trouble. I've always been very hesitant with student debt.

I left with about 10 from the University of Mississippi, which wasn't bad at all. So I think being deeply suspicious of those kind of financial products I think it's got to be on the upside. And last question is, when did you first feel successful and what does that word mean to you?

It's a weird thing. I don't-- even at this point in my career, I don't feel successful. I feel like I'm just doing what I need to do.

I think that there's this-- something I think you learn as you get older is have this idea in your mind that once you get a house or a car or a certain job or a certain amount of public recognition for who you are, that's when you'll feel magically happy. It's just not my experience. I mean, I'm exactly as happy today as when there was a scrappy game developer a decade ago.

So what I do feel is a good sense of purpose in what I'm doing and what I'm trying to accomplish in my career. But I still don't feel successful if that makes sense. Wow.

I think you are, so that's enough. Thank you very much. I think-- Well-- oh, well thank you.

Brianna, thank you so, so much for joining us. And where should people go to here more of what you have to say? Oh my goodness, yes.

So if you are like tech things, you can-- I have a podcast I've done with two other amazing women from-- my goodness, it's been almost eight years at this point. It's called Rocket. It's on Relay FM.

We're probably the largest all-women tech show in the podcasting space, so please go look at that. And you can always find my Twitter account, @BriannaWu on Twitter. Well thank you so much for being here, and thank you, guys, for tuning in.

And we will see you next Monday on an all-new episode of The Financial Confessions. Bye, everyone. [MUSIC PLAYING]