Programmer: Hero to All or Digital Masochist?

Ok so it hit me the other day when I was asking myself why I program. Basically I’ve hit that point in my career where I am starting to re-evaluate what the s— I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Actually it was more like me lamenting over my current path and I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t program for a living, I’d still do it as a hobby. To this the woman asked, “If you like it as a hobby, why do you hate programming?” This got me to thinking, do I hate this all the time? And the answer is no. I think this overworked bin of waste I call a blog is a testament to what I do love about programming. You know, the new stuff. The discovery. And yes (And you know it) the elation and self pleasing like act of “Yeah, I figured that out. I’m f—ing smart and stuff.” I even like the building and designing of systems (Well the non UI part since I have a restraining order that doesn’t allow me to be within 50 feet of UI design). Actually I really like that stuff.

Here’s the bad. When do I actually get a chance to do that? When do most of us ever get to do that? Problem is that most programming jobs don’t entail this. How do I know this? Well in my short 8 or so year career, I’ve had a lot of programming jobs. 9 to be exact. And about eh 50+ interviews with companies. So basically like a follower of “free love”, I’ve been around. In those jobs and interviews I’ve had 1 job and 3 possible ones where I wouldn’t have just been either:

  1. Maintenance Boy
  2. Legacy Avenger

Now you might think it’s because I suck. Well that could be a reason, but that would imply that the people I’ve worked with sucked since they were stuck doing the same thing, regardless of their experience. I can’t believe everyone I’ve worked with sucked, but I have no real proof. Then again, this isn’t being submitted to Fox New– eh The New York Ti– eh some scientific journal.

So with this I’m going out on a limb here and going to guess that the people not in the top 15% of the programming world are stuck doing tasks that involve:

  1. Updating old code
  2. Fixing old code
  3. Adding to old code
  4. Creating new things but under old standards and frameworks
  5. Spending time trying to figure out a web of stored procedures so complicated it would make Brian Greene spin. (His ENTIRE body)

And people do this everyday and a lot of them bitch about it but when pressed wouldn’t want to do anything else. Why? Because we hate ourselves! It’s simple f—ing psychology. When you hate yourself, you do things to keep that feeling of hate alive. You will be drawn to people who most likely cause us grief. You will be drawn to a job that causes pain. Think about it:

  1. In most companies, IT is the lowest rung on the ladder.
  2. People have no idea what we do which leads to horrible deadlines. Read: “It won’t take that long, it’s just HTML.”
  3. We work on systems that we didn’t build and the people who came before us didn’t have a lot of concern about someone else having to work on it.
  4. The stuff we work with can be really expensive and therefore most companies are years behind on IDEs, frameworks, ect
  5. In the high school we call the workplace, we’re basically the kid taped to the goal post.

And the best part is we’re described as problem solvers, which means right off the bat our job consists of cleaning up someone else’s f— ups or we’re expected to figure out the things that some committee of tool bags couldn’t get their collective head around.

I mean what sane person does this willingly? You know what the kicker is? We get some crazy high from when we actually do pull off some crazy impossible. Tell me how is that different than getting some kind of high after running a blade down your arm? We get pleasure from pain. That is our existence. We are sick puppies.

I’m hungry.