Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

This is such a modern problem too. No matter what anyone feels about it having to farm crops to eat was definitely meaningful work a hundred years ago. Even if you were being exploited in a factory suicide was common but mostly from abuse and injury rather than the vacuousness of the job.

Its wholly contemporary to invent bullshit jobs and imagine complexity to keep people at desks en masse, leaving them with such a feeling of their lives being pointless.

Truth. My job is "important", but at the same time I don't think anyone's life would be measurably worse if I didn't do it (besides mine lol).

IMO it is kind of a problem with software in general. It is getting me down honestly; I could use some advice.

I feel the same way. Pay is good, work can be interesting, work-life balance and job security are relatively good, but being a developer never gave me any sense of real fulfillment. I'm not making any serious difference in anyone's life, and my six figure salary could be replaced with a team of eastern Europeans who could probably get more done at a fraction of the cost. If I were to die tomorrow, it wouldn't really make any difference aside from friends/family. My company might be inconvenienced for a couple weeks, but would easily find a replacement.

I can put up with unfulfilling work (at least for a little bit). What I can't stand is the Kool-Aid culture surrounding it where you have to put this big smile on your face at all times and pretend like gluing Javascript is your life-calling, mentally stimulates you, and gives you a deep sense of fulfillment. That CNBC article describing Facebook's work culture as "cult-like" is basically every job and job interview I've ever partaken in in the tech industry.


The modern software engineer is a glorified factory worker, except instead of making cars and computer parts we're making apps that help rich people get a little richer or get people to buy sh*t they don't need.

I envy people with actually meaningful jobs - doctors who save lives, journalists exposing the world's atrocities, politicians, anyone working on the cutting edge of anything, etc.

Doctors and journalists use a lot of software. Everyone uses computers all the time. Making software better can be a very high leverage activity. Sometimes fixing one bug can save hours of work for a whole bunch of people. Right? So it basically just depends on what you’re working on. And there are also doctors, journalists, and perhaps especially politicians whose daily work doesn’t contribute very meaningfully to a better world.

Absolutely. But selfishly speaking I hardly ever get to hear about successes of my code.

The thing that amazes me is that so many people feel the same way, yet this "way of life" is still the norm.

That is, why is there no way to innovate a new structure, given the degree of intrinsic support that would seem to exist?

And, software engineers in particular would seem well-suited to this task. If software is eating the world and we write software, then...

It is usually some form of entities with the means are not interested/enjoying the current status quo.

well put. I recently had this thought that dev is no difference from production line worker. There are only small fraction of dev sitting on top of pyramid designing blueprint and managing production line.

Except that once a dev builts a product once, it can be duplicated for free an infinite amount of times.

Imagine yourself sat in a big chair aged 110 years old. And you’re thinking to yourself “I’m so glad I did X”.

What is X?

(It’s tough, I’m 44 and I only figured it out last year, but I didn’t do it this way)

Now, how can you do X?

Is it a side hustle? Is it a spare time thing? Does it need millions of dollars? Does it need you to quit your job and change direction completely?

Can you get to X in five years?

If so, what is the single most important thing you need to have completed in 3 years?

To do that one thing, what’s the most important thing you need to have completed by January next year?

And to do that, what’s the single most important thing you need to have completed by March this year.

Now you have a goal - something to achieve by March. Write out 12 tasks to get you there and do one each week between now and then.

If you can’t come up with 12 tasks you can be more ambitious in your March goal. If you can’t fit it all in you need to scale back your March goal.

And then when you hit March, look at your one year target and figure out the next 12 weeks.

That seems like good advice. Having some sort of thing to work towards seems helpful.

Breaking it down into achievable chunks is important too. The paradox is you can’t plan too far ahead as life will get in the way. But if you don’t have a direction of travel you forget where you’re going.

Hence the five/three/one year ambitions followed by a twelve week plan.

I feel the same. I've been doing this for nearly 10 years now, and although software and programming still interests me, all the jobs I've had in this industry do not. It just feels like I spend all my day working hard to make someone else even more money. I can't imagine myself continuing doing this for the next 30+ years...

My plan is to save as much as my income as possible and retire early, possibly getting a part time job in a coffee shop to supplement my savings and maintain some interaction with people. Take a look into /r/FIRE if that sounds appealing to you.

Part of why I like working at smaller companies that focus on serving small-medium sized businesses. At this level you are actually building a piece of software for users rather the C-suite.

Short term, find sources of fulfillment that are not your job.

Longer term, seek a similarly comfortable position that you find more meaningful.

> Its wholly contemporary to invent bullshit jobs and imagine complexity to keep people at desks en masse

I don't believe that's remotely true. That bullshit jobs exist is certainly true, but it's due to inefficiencies in communication and incentives at larger companies. Bullshit jobs eat into profit, companies don't do it on purpose, it's just harder and harder to weed those people out the bigger you get; the more people you have the easier it is for non-productive people to hide and not have it known.

Farming crops doesn’t sound like an entirely bad job, but I’m not sure the pay is great compared to software development.

I’d seriously consider agricultural jobs (farming, ag engineering, agricultural science) in another lifetime if I hadn’t invested so much time in my tech career and weren’t so allergies to grass/pollen outdoor allergens.

I'm curious whether the declining fertility rates are related to people feeling their lives being pointless.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact