Mark Zuckerberg, the 30-something billionaire founder of Facebook, hasn't lived a 'normal' life...at least not at any point in the recent past. He grew up in a suburb of New York City and now hobnobs with the elites of Silicon Valley, at least when he's not enjoying that massive chunk of Kauai that he recently purchased for his own private use.
So what do you do when you've become completely disconnected from the 'foreign' world that all of middle America calls 'reality' and have no idea why you just got massively blindsided by a national election that you thought was a foregone conclusion? Well, you take a trip to Williston, North Dakota.
As Zuckerberg apparently learned for the first time while visiting oil workers in a tiny North Dakota town, there are entire industries that exist outside of Silicon Valley...industries that provide great wages and support thousands of American families. And, as it turns out, those people are sick and tired of having their jobs threatened by their own government and being demonized by Hollywood liberals for their efforts to provide economical access to energy.
Zuckerberg shared his full thoughts in a Facebook post:
The invention of new techniques to fracture rock (fracking) to extract oil led to a boom where tens of thousands of workers moved from all around the country to pursue new jobs in this industry.
They come here because these are good jobs where people with a high school diploma can make $100,000 a year.
When the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved, that removed $6-7 per barrel of cost from producing oil in the region, which brought more investment and jobs here. A number of people told me they had felt their livelihood was blocked by the government, but when Trump approved the pipeline they felt a sense of hope again. That word "hope" came up many times around this. One person told me the night the pipeline was approved, people lit fireworks and rode trucks with American flags down Main Street to celebrate.
Many people I talked to here acknowledged this, but also feel a sense of pride that their work contributes to serving real needs we all have every day -- keeping our homes warm, getting to work, feeding us, and more. They believe competition from new sources of energy is good, but from their perspective, until renewables can provide most of our energy at scale, they are providing an important service we all rely on, and they wish they'd stop being demonized for it.
Of course, Zuckerberg also took the opportunity to cast the men he met as just a bunch of misogynist criminals...
This sudden influx of mostly men tripled the size of the town in just a few years. When oil prices dropped, some of this industry left and so did many people. This has led to some unique community dynamics.
First, the ratio of men to women in the city is now 10:1. That's actually lower than 30:1 at its peak.
The women I met said they feel safe, but they had unique stories. Some told me about finding out their boyfriends had families back home.
This gender imbalance has led to crime though. It is well-documented across the world that societies with many more men than women have more crime.
...but, at least it's a start...