Thanks for writing in. Sadly, you were wrong.
My last post made a lot of men quite annoyed. In a surprising move they felt the need to tell me about how annoyed they are. I know, right?
These poor annoyed men fell into at least one of three camps:
- Insecure developers who felt I was belittling people who code in their spare time.
- Mens Rights Activists who felt I was ignoring men who didn’t have the time to code.
- Code Nazis who felt I was undermining the developer master race.
“But, but, I code in my spare time! I’m not a bad boy! I’m not!”
Sweetie, no one said you were bad for coding in your spare time. You’re very lucky that you’re able to do so - I’m jealous that you can!
But when someone criticises the systematic problems that pile emotional, physical, and time labour upon those less privileged than the straight, white, male “default, they’re not criticising you personally.
When someone criticises those systemic problems it is a good idea to think about why they are criticising them. Ask if the fact that you took the criticism personally means that you might benefit from (or be untouched by) those systemic problems. Then ask yourself how you can help to eliminate those systemic problems.
What about men!?
Men have problems too! You’re not addressing our problems! Where’s my cookie?
Oh, honey. Yes, men have problems too. Quite apart from benefitting from the wage gap and having to perpetuate most violent crimes, you also have to deal with women speaking out. Those feminists are just awful, aren’t they?
No, but srsly. If you’re a man and you have problems that do not enable you to code in your free time, then the previous article should not offend you. It speaks about you as well, because it speaks about all people who are less privileged. Just because your specific case was not mentioned does not mean your problem has been invalidated.
I’m not able to list every intersectional oppression that involves everybody. There is not enough internet for that. That is why I gave examples. Examples are “things that illustrate a general rule, without being a fucking list of literally everything possible”.
Code Nazis. I hate Code Nazis
“The best runners run all the time. The best guitarists play all the time. It’s obvious that the best developers code all the time.”
The best runners run all the time because they have to maintain a level of fitness, strength and stamina that they could not get by doing anything else.
The best guitarists play all the time because their music bring pleasure to people, and because music playing is a huge part muscle-memory, something that must be reinforced.
Neither of these these reasons apply to coding.
Yes, you need to practice coding. Just like any other skill. But if you think the best coders are the ones who are always coding, always committing to Github, always disrupting, then you’re due for a horrible surprise in a year or two, when burnout hits you. Because it will. Slow down now, take off the VR headset, go smell the roses. There’s a whole world out there.
The best developers that I know are well-rounded human beings. They do not code every second that they get. They interact with the world around them and use those interactions to inform their considered coding choices. They may not know then entire React API from memory, or be able to debug code by just reading it (they use Google and unit tests for that). But they will produce applications that consider the human being using it, write code that is easy to read and easy to use by other developers, and they will help elevate their fellow coders, hackers and developers up.
Incidentally, there was one terrifying argument that I saw repeated by a couple of people, that “sacrifices must be made” to be good at what you do.
“It doesn’t matter the cards you were dealt. You have to make yourself the best. If you aren’t sacrificing, you aren’t achieving.”
This is genuinely terrifying. This is the ultimate buy-in to the neoliberal dream. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice. Do you hear me on this? Please hear me on this. Nobody should be breaking themselves, their lives or their families, just to code.
I’m going to have to summarise here, because some people have been missing the argument, badly, and need it in bullet points:
- No one is saying that coding in your spare time is bad.
- No one is saying that “only the privileged” can be the best in the field. There will always be exceptions in any group.
- I am saying that groups of people with more time available to them will get to code more.
- I am saying that clueless CEOs will, consciously or unconsciously_ bias towards those groups that can spend more time coding.
- Those groups biased towards will be at an unfair advantage.
- Those biased against will get pushed further down the societal and employment pile.
- Yes, this is a feminist issue (if you think feminism is about pushing women ahead of others, you need to read).
- Yes, other groups than women are affected by this (if you think my piece was about women, you didn’t read it).
Oh, and a huge shout out to the developers who didn’t take this personally, who understood the issues at hand, and signal-boosted the previous post. So many <3s for you.