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Why I Quit Tech and Became a Therapist (glench.com)
422 points by Glench 44 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 314 comments



Maybe too many people are trying to find all their meaning in life through their work. It's not a recipe for success for most people, I think the media plays it up a bit too much. They're only covering the success stories in terms of people who are single minded and who make their work everything.

The author of the article doesn't mention any relationships or other interests in life, no passion for anything but work. Maybe that wasn't the case but you can't tell from the article.

Lots of people do something in the arts, music, physical fitness, etc.. on the side along with family & relationships or faith/religion to find meaning. If you're happy from that aspect work becomes just something you do to pay the bills. It doesn't mean you're not passionate about work but the other things can make up for times when work isn't so great.


To me, this guy sounds like he's suffering from classic burnout. I know because I could have written the exact same thing when I burnt out in undergrad:

"I tried prioritizing my work, focusing on the things I felt the most passionately about, but when I tried to work on the projects at the top of this list I couldn't summon any energy. Yet I spent hours and hours thinking obsessively about the ultimate point of my work."

I mean, heck, the guy said he was reading 50 (no doubt challenging) books a year on his work. That's insane.

It's pretty simple: you can't work at an insane pace forever, and eventually your subconscious will rebel and stop working with you.

In my case, it felt like my intentions and actions were connected by a plastic gear, and I had spent so many years jamming that gear as hard as I could that it stripped the teeth off of it. My intentions could spin as hard as they wanted to, but eventually I just found it impossible to do anything.


> “It's pretty simple: you can't work at an insane pace forever, and eventually your subconscious will rebel and stop working with you.”

I think there are versions of this where the issue is not pace or volume of work, but rather “meaning” or greater societal impact.

I used to work at a place that gathers a ton of location data on its users, and then packages it into data products & advertising products.

It wasn’t the pace of work that burnt me out there, but instead the lack of meaningful impact. Even a light workload at such a place was already heavy enough to create burnout.

Just as you need rest from volume of work, you also need rest from work that exploits others or work that does not appear to have a constructive purpose.


If you're comfortable sharing, what did you do to get out of that state?


The plastic gear thing sounds incredibly familiar. (How) did you fix it?


The problem with the workplace is you have a limited amount of control over it. Companies change strategy, get sold, have turnover... and sometimes even though you're sitting at the same desk, you find yourself holding a different job.

As I've gotten older I've found that what type of work I'm doing matters less and less. It can be the most interesting project in the world, but if your teammates are all assholes you'll be miserable. Meanwhile, the cleaning crew has a solid working relationship with each other and are having a great time.


> Maybe too many people are trying to find all their meaning in life through their work.

You probably shouldn't make your "meaning in life" reside completely in your work. But then again, you can't work at a job that is completely meaningless to you.

The problem with burnout generally comes from the feeling of pointlessness. And IT excels at that feeling. We've built an industry that is accustomed -almost to the point of being a fraud to society- to such things as:

- Extremely low productivity in the large. While workers may be fully occupied, and even over-worked sometimes, in the large, a lot of productivity is simply wasted in projects which never take off, are discarded, scratched, changed, etc.

- Low accountability. Current trends like #NoEstimates #NoTesting #NoProductOwners etc, while may or may not have valid points all lead to a larger #NoAccountability "ideal" where developers seem to want no accountability at all for whatever they do. Not having any responsibilities in what you do is actually not the good idea some think it is.

- The pervasive idea that it's all horrible but that's alright. That you don't really need to know how to do stuff, you can just copy-paste it from SO or whatever you find on Google. That programmers just don't know what they are doing but haha I change this line here and it works and I don't know why but it works and that's what matters so I'm going to sarcastically twit about it because everyone will understand and concur. That everything could just crash and burn in microseconds but that won't really happen, right?

- The masterful move of claiming that anyone can program with just good will and disposition. That a degree doesn't matter, that experience doesn't matter, that actual knowledge is secondary to "passion".

All this ends up producing the result that a lot -most? probably so- of jobs in the industry and a large part of every job in the industry is mostly pointless, or at least feels so. And this pointlessness in turn is what produces the burnout.

And I don't really know, but I would tend to think that no matter how much meaning you find outside your job, if that job doesn't at least give you a minimum meaning, you will have a very hard time fighting burnout.


You make a bunch of great points.

A lot of the "No Accountability" stuff to me started to appear about the same time as Agile. Agile removed most of management's accountability and product management's accountability. They could do whatever they want, engineering can just pivot on a dime when they're wrong. If PM asked you to build something ridiculous it's waved away through Agile, it was always too hard to figure out what to build before you build it, so PM can do no wrong.

I think some of the "No accountability" trends on the developer side are just a response.

But all of it makes the workplace a lot harder to stomach.


>you can't work at a job that is completely meaningless to you

You absolutely can, and millions of people do every day.


But that's also probably why millions of people are psychologically miserable all the time. The subset of people who are working a full-time completely meaningless job (may not apply to part-time) and then finding happiness outside of work entirely. There's plenty of gray in-between though (people define 'meaningless' in their own way).


> Extremely low productivity in the large. While workers may be fully occupied, and even over-worked sometimes, in the large, a lot of productivity is simply wasted in projects which never take off, are discarded, scratched, changed, etc.

When speed became a major factor in this new startup dominated tech world, people think that they just don't have time to plan.

> Low accountability. Current trends like #NoEstimates #NoTesting #NoProductOwners etc, while may or may not have valid points all lead to a larger #NoAccountability "ideal" where developers seem to want no accountability at all for whatever they do. Not having any responsibilities in what you do is actually not the good idea some think it is.

When developers are not given time to plan and test, what does one expect?

That programmers put in their spare time for the company? Ha!

> - The pervasive idea that it's all horrible but that's alright. That you don't really need to know how to do stuff, you can just copy-paste it from SO or whatever you find on Google. That programmers just don't know what they are doing but haha I change this line here and it works and I don't know why but it works and that's what matters so I'm going to sarcastically twit about it because everyone will understand and concur. That everything could just crash and burn in microseconds but that won't really happen, right?

Again, if developers are not given time to reflect like post-mortems and such, what do you expect?

> - The masterful move of claiming that anyone can program with just good will and disposition. That a degree doesn't matter, that experience doesn't matter, that actual knowledge is secondary to "passion".

I used to believe that passion is important. But after a few years in the field, more often than not, it is used as an exploitation vector.


You probably shouldn’t make your happiness contingent on a meaningful life. If your favorite team isn’t in last place, there’s beer in the fridge, and you’re not dealing with significant physical or emotional trauma, then be grateful you have the opportunity to worry about mastering Lagrangian comment design patterns, diverse leadership efficiency, or performant vested class b proxy options.


Leaving what I'd call "intuitive happiness" immediately leads you into the depths of deciding the goals of human life. If we agree that happiness is desirable, why not just induce it by drugs? Why not try to learn to be happy in all situations at all costs? Mentally disabled people seem to be usually quite happy without all the reasons we need, why not become like them?

For me, happiness requires a meaningful life. If I tried to get rid of that dependency, I'd probably end up a broken man and try one of the above ideas.


Just a minor quip about the NoEstimates thing. I have zero illusions that some people adopt it exactly as you state. However, AFAIK the original idea was to use metrics and modeling to eliminate the need for a human to make up an estimate. Instead, you have an estimate based on actual numbers and ideally even with a confidence tied to it.


This is a good point. Our culture places a lot of emphasis on work. And I think there's something important there — that if we're going to spend most of our time doing something (work), it should be something we enjoy, find meaningful, and helps others. But if we lose perspective and forget the other things in life we'll surely become unhappy.

Since leaving tech my life has also become more balanced in other areas of life such as relationships and physical health, which I didn't mention in the article. Thanks for pointing that out!


I think the problem many people find in seeking this balance is that, when it comes to skilled/creative labor, it takes a combination of natural talent and deliberate skill-building to break through the plateau of mediocrity. Many are not comfortable making the conscious choice to be mediocre at their trade, despite the fact that being good or great at their trade may not actually bring them happiness.


"...work becomes just something you do to pay the bills."

And the flipside of separating things like that, is that when activities you enjoy are freed completely from having to be a source of money, they sometimes can start to be more fun and meaningful in their own right.


I’ve done some studies in Transactional Analysis, and what strikes me the most is that you have one group of people who need to be recognised for what they do, and another group of people who need to be recognised for who they are.

Plenty of people will get all their meaning from work, and they’ll burn out trying to prove who they are.

Plenty of people hate being defined by their work and want to be recognised for their self.


> Maybe too many people are trying to find all their meaning in life through their work.

Funny, someone at work just shared this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/583441/


Your hobbies are not always in your control. Let's say you have a very busy month at work and at the same time a big music festival is happening which you would like to attend. Work will always mess up your personal lifestyle. All your hobbies are always secondary.


You choose to put importance where you deem best. Some will risk a job to keep up with outside hobbies. Others will drop hobbies.

If you set your priorties you will usually get your most desired outcome.


I see it the same way, that's a real problem. People often don't do anything apart from work, also don't feel like the belong anywhere. Corporate life make it even worse.


I so agree with you. One thing I will add. If you commit to excellence in something you will most likely fall in love with it.


I've been having the same existential crisis for a couple years now. I started working at a FAANG company right out of college, then after a bunch of personal health problems ended up taking a leave of absence that I didn't return from.

I took a long break from software and started learning politics, philosophy, and history, and eventually came to the conclusion that most of the world's problems are social/political and won't be fixed by technology.

And in many ways, the type of work we do directly cause harm to people. (Unfortunately, with the long gap in my career I need to build up work experience before switching to anything else)

How can I continue to work at a corporation that directly causes wealth inequality? Sure, I might personally enjoy working on math and software related problems. But why is my own intellectual curiosity more important than whether someone else gets to eat?

I don't want to just donate to charities, I want to end systemic problems that lead to charities needing to exist in the first place.


> But why is my own intellectual curiosity more important than whether someone else gets to eat?

It's not, but unless you are working on something that is directly impoverishing someone to this point, then the economic or social system that allows people to go hungry and without basics is more to blame than your particular role.

People don't go hungry anymore due to lack of societal resources. It's due to either a lack of sufficient collective concern, or even a belief that it is largely acceptable that this occurs.

That the effect of your inequality inducing job is hunger for someone can only be countered with policy and incentives that work at societal, not with individual choices to disengage from jobs that optimize productivity.

It's similar to the fallacy of asking Warren Buffet to cut an additional check to the IRS vs raising tax rates, or the fallacy of thinking that an individual's choice not to eat meat has any meaningful effect on climate change.

> I don't want to just donate to charities, I want to end systemic problems that lead to charities needing to exist in the first place.

This is actually a great way to think about it, and if you have the personal means to pursue the systemic issues without having to worry about your own survival, then go for it. But know that this will almost certainly involve spurring on the collective human will to act towards that goal, not inventing a technology as an individual that will fix the problem.


No individual snowflake thinks it is responsible for the avalanche. Being aware of your own contribution to the state of the world and being willing to change that are important, even if you account for only a minuscule part of the problem.


Individual awareness is different than individual actions. Awareness can actually scale through individual change due to the non linear way that information spreads, and that can in turn influence policy, which then operates over the whole domain. That's sort of the whole political process in a nutshell.

But individual acts of sacrifice for the common good are not scalable in the same way, due to our inherent aversion to loss.

Usually large scale acts of sacrifice are the result of worse alternative consequences, like imprisonment or penalties for cheating on taxes.


> But individual acts of sacrifice for the common good are not scalable in the same way, due to our inherent aversion to loss.

I submit that this is a convenient excuse. You have to be the change you want to see in the world. It is easy to say "yeah, I'm making things worse, but its ok because so is everyone else", and thus nothing changes.


> I submit that this is a convenient excuse.

More of an observation that people will tend toward their local maximum utility even while global utility is compromised. Sometimes you might discover a way to increase both, but for most ongoing concerns the way to balance the two is via laws and regulation.


I agree with you, what I was trying to say is that I've had an internal dilemma about pursuing my career or making it a priority to tackle those systemic issues.

I know that my individual contribution to capitalism by working for a major corporation is a drop in the bucket, and simply refusing to work for a corporation has no real impact on poverty worldwide. But I could definitely put more energy into radical action than I do right now.


And get downvoted when asking how it's ethical to allow a small fraction of people to own unlimited wealth when 25% of Americans don't have clean tap water. :3


It's actually 63 million people, roughly 20%.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/08/14/63-million-am...


As many as 63 million people — nearly a fifth of the United States — from rural central California to the boroughs of New York City, were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade, according to a News21 investigation of 680,000 water quality and monitoring violations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

I'd say that "exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade" is pretty far from "20% of Americans don't have clean tap water". If anything, I'd rather say it's impressive that 80% of Americans haven't been exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once in a decade!


Where did you get that statistic?


Discussion about ethics are kind of pointless as different people have different ethical systems.


I dont think unnecessary inequality of food and water are very controversial in humane ethical systems, unless you want to include fascism in your debate


I agree. The interesting, high-paying jobs in tech all seem to be centred around funnelling money from one place to another for profit, or manipulating people for profit. Most of the available work just seems to do harm. Working for public/charity companies doesn’t lead to satisfaction either, since all you see is an overworked, underpaid, too-junior workforce and an inferior, outdated product which you can do little about.

On top of this, the accepted career progression for many programmers seems to be that you become a manager and don’t even get to solve the fun problems yourself - now you’re doing harm and not even enjoying doing it!

But hey, at least we get paid a lot...


> The interesting, high-paying jobs in tech all seem to be centred around funnelling money from one place to another for profit

Maybe that's because so much of tech nowadays is a branch of the finance industry (mostly through VC), and that's all finance has ever been.


Listening to this it would seem there’s only horrible extortional companies to work for. If you stay away from FAANG you’re already a lot better off.

There’s a lot of traditional industries that do not exploit people or paychology any more than they’ve been doing for hundreds of years. Those companies need programmers as well.

You won’t get your FAANG salary, but that is the sacrifice you make. No need to give up on IT altogether.


That's how society works though. Funneling money from one place to another for profit and manipulating people for profit is business as usual. I really don't understand the recent public opinion of some people thinking tech will become the downfall of our society.


I strongly relate to this comment as a programmer. Sometimes when a colleague asks me: "Why life is hard?", I answer: "Because its hard for people to get along"

My answer is just aggregation of all biggest problems I face in my life and programming. The biggest challenges often have to do with cooperation between 2 or more people.


Then I encourage you wholeheartedly to work on that problem! It is really among the most important things of all.


To be fair, a lot of people are pretty terrible.


If you don't know it already, you are probably interested in these:

https://80000hours.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_altruism

They are basically thinking about exactly this question, what is most important for the society / humanity / the world, and how can you make the biggest impact to achieve such a goal. This very much depends on your background and abilities, of course.


There are plenty of technical organizations that do meaningful and beneficial work, although they aren't all going to be in California paying $150k+. I don't see how I'd ever be able to maintain motivation while working 50+ hour weeks on advertising or content delivery. The main reason I declined a private tech sector position to work for the federal government is because I hope to be a part of something which moves the needle ever-so-slightly in the right direction.


> most of the world's problems are social/political and won't be fixed by technology.

One might argue that technology not only won't fix our issues but, used as it is today, is the cause of a lot of them.


I agree with you, but I didn't particularly feel like getting into a debate over this topic at work :)


Just curious, what are you working on now?

I actually went to school for history, but I'm self-taught in tech. Thankfully, I never had to work at any dishonest or unethical companies (I stayed out of the startup world), but it still feels like most of the Bay Area companies are not really improving society much, and only a very small section of the population benefits, and they benefit heavily.


What really worries me is that thinking about it probably the greatest positive influence you can have, at least in theory, would be to build something massively exploitative and unethical, siphon gross amounts of money out of the economy with it, and then insure that money is not spent unethically again.

A large part of why things are the way they are is because both wealth hoarders and consumers incentivize the status quo with their economic influence. Building systems, writing software, trying to raise awareness, etc does little to displace an economic system centered on exploiting weakness and maximizing profit. The most any one person can really, truly do is amass such a substantial portion wealth that they can dictate and control to be a force for good and not evil.


This is a noble intent, but it presumes that the perception and cognition of the individual remains unchanged by the circumstances in life. Capital is only a form of power, which is known to corrupt.


As an aside, I've done work with United Nations Online Volunteers previously. That is one way you can use your skills to the benefit of organizations in need.

It doesn't help with your systemic problems directly, but it can provide valuable service to groups that need all the help they can get.

Often this includes groups like children's mentoring organizations that provide access to education and other extracurricular activities. In that way it can indirectly help dig at the root of a variety of problems.

https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en

https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en/opportunities?f[0]=fie... (development tasks)


What was your reasoning that lead you to believe that the social/political problems of the world won't be fixed with technology? I personally have come to the opposite conclusion. I think we need systems to help us reason about and model various social and political issues. Many issues of today go unresolved because they are hidden by complexity. We need systems to help us navigate this complexity. I'm tired of seeing people talk nonsense in circles, I want to create systems that allow them to craft their arguments rigorously without the need for rigorous training. If we can help people reason about problems, would that help us at all?


We have seen demonstrable evidence for over twenty years now that if you build a way to more easily inform yourself on reality, facts, historical accuracy, etc that people would rather use that system to justify their own preconceptions and biases than seek out truth that might influence their beliefs.

Technology can only supplement a mindset where people are agreeable to solving problems in the first place. Most social and political woes are intentional, someone is "winning" for someone else's "losing", and often neither party wants the arrangement to change even if from the outsider perspective it would be "so easy" to fix, especially technically.


>We have seen demonstrable evidence for over twenty years now that if you build a way to more easily inform yourself on reality, facts, historical accuracy, etc that people would rather use that system to justify their own preconceptions and biases than seek out truth that might influence their beliefs.

I'm fairly certain the problem is the systems are written to reward those behaviors. It's technically not hard to solve that, but modern social media companies have this baked into their business model.

(Yes, I have a scheme in mind that solves it, sorry not sharing :-)


You don't need social media to learn that climate change is a thing. Just read Wikipedia. Look at the citations. And yet, a sizable portion of the US public believes it's a hoax.


Actually the problem with climate change deniers is that they doubt the source and cannot reason about the issue themselves. This is actually one example of needing a system to help people reason. Just telling someone something will not convince someone unless they trust the authority of the person telling them OR if they can reach the conclusion themselves. Thanks for this comment, it actually made me further realize how important such systems are.


I'm not talking merely about platforms for discovering information, I'm talking about platforms for thinking. Have you ever seen https://www.bayesialab.com? I went to one of their workshops in NYC and they produced quite a convincing example of this.

The economy/society is not a zero sum game as you are suggesting. It's a cooperative game. In some local scenarios it is a zero sum game, but to look at the whole economy/society like that is misleading. But yes, if people are looking to destroy each other, then yes, technology will just facilitate that. It is in most people's best interest to cooperate though.

So you're saying even if we do have platforms for thinking that help people navigate complex issues, it wouldn't have any economic or political benefit?


Sure, sure. Yes, it would. And you'll find your proposal gets shot down and derided by those above you in the hierarchy whom it would negatively impact, your desk moved to the basement and your favorite stapler confiscated. Politics will block the change that would fix said politics. That's why it's politics. That's why it works.


(You have no contact info in your profile, so I'll just post this publicly.)

I've been thinking a lot of similar thoughts and have been wishing I had more people to discuss this with.

If it sounds good to you, reach out to me at the email in my profile. I'd be interested in hearing more about your diagnosis of how systems are malfunctioning, what systemic fixes might look like, and how it could be practical to work on that and still pay bills.


Some of the social and political problems can be fixed by technology.

Technology offers speed, ease of use, and freedom:

It's allowing the population to educate itself. The sheer number and diversity of media allows people to find material about a topic that captivates them instead of walking away from the topic because the "classical" texts are not matching the student's needs.

It's allowing the population access to news beyond the standard topics and formats of newspaper, radio, and TV.

It's allowing a staggering amount of recording and publication that leads to increased transparency and reduced corruption.

It's allowing the population to bypass government controls. Encryption, cryptocurrency, etc.


> eventually came to the conclusion that most of the world's problems are social/political and won't be fixed by technology

I agree.

I work at an education company on a digital product. I got on board excited because I deeply believe education is the best way to change the world.

After 4 years I've realized tech is just another tool. The quality of education depends entirely on the quality of the educators and the pedagogic system they are using. Tools are pretty much irrelevant.

So basically the only reason the company has a digital product is because it looks great on sales presentations and everyone expects us to have tech since our competition has tech too.


> Tools are pretty much irrelevant.

I won't go so far as to call them irrelevant cause I've personally found them very useful during my education. Whilst they're useless by themselves if the quality of the content itself is useless they can definitely help studying more easier and efficient.


People learned as much as today with paper and pencil. Digital books and tools are certainly convenient, but don't really contribute to the quality of the education.

There's this study by the OECD which finds that not only there is no correlation between maths/reading/science skills and the use of computers, but in some cases using computers only makes things worse:

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34174796

https://www.compareyourcountry.org/pisa-digital

In France they recently completely banned tablets and phones in primary schools.

Estonia, Finland, and Singapore have some of the best K12 education in the world and they barely use computers if at all.

The evidence is slowly piling up that learning, at least until before college (where most of the cognitive skills are learned) does not benefit from using digital tools.


> I don't want to just donate to charities, I want to end systemic problems that lead to charities needing to exist in the first place.

Everyone wants this. The problem is that it's intrinsic to human nature. We might get away from it some day, but until we can universally trust the people who have power we won't get there.

When I was Catholic, I liked the serenity prayer (I still meditate on this from time to time). It helped me scope what I accepted as my own personal responsibility to fix. Picking a job where you can code on something that actually helps people AND make a living is a great experience. It shouldn't be everything, but sometimes it's enough.


>I don't want to just donate to charities, I want to end systemic problems that lead to charities needing to exist in the first place.

You could give some of your salary to political groups that you think will help fix those systemic problems. If you're working for a FAANG, you're probably making like twice as much as you need anyway.


> But why is my own intellectual curiosity more important than whether someone else gets to eat?

Because I am me, and they are them? I mean, if I can get both at the same time then that’s obviously best. But I won’t compromise my own happiness for someone elses.

I don’t think that is mutually exclusive with wanting to end systemic problems with inequality though.


What you're dealing with right now is called burnout. I know because I've been there.


How did you come to the conclusion that "the world's problems are social/political and won't be fixed by technology".

I'm still shocked how come you don't see the effect of the 21st century where in the past all those world wars, genocides, ignorance etc.

Really sorry but I couldn't find any profession other then engineering and science if you ask me what makes us prevail in the long run!


I knew there would be some relation with drugs in the text.

People who think psychedelic drugs (even Cannabis) are just about 'having fun' or 'getting high' are skipping past the biggest ability these compounds have: to make you change some already hardcoded aspects of your life.

Someone who isn't me started working out and eating properly after having an epiphany on cannabis which prompted him to openly evaluate his relationship with food. After seeing truly how he ate, it disgusted him. This person is now 50kg slimmer and away from obesity BMI.


Psychedelics are unpredictable. They can:

- Change your life for the better, like with your "friend".

- Fuck you up completely. It is rare and usually tied to preexisting conditions, but it happens.

- Give you a good, enjoyable, and rather inconsequential trip. I'd say it is by far the most common outcome, especially on low doses.

- Give you a horrible experience. It usually stops you from wanting to do any more psychedelics.

- Something else.

The problem, and the reason why they are not currently used in mainstream (scientific) medicine is that you don't know in advance which scenario will apply to you. Things like set and setting help but there is no sure fire technique.


Please congratulate that person on my behalf. Even though it may be the result of an epiphany, self-restraint is still hard to achieve and a noble goal in itself :-)


I'd like to prefix this as _anecdotal_ as it is only some speculation I've done on the matter, but here is my take on it:

The brain is in the end a neural network, and like all such devices, can get stuck in various local minima that are difficult to get out of. An old habit that has been reinforced through many years can take a considerable "shock" to dislodge. All the little cognitive and behavioral biases that one accumulates through their life get in the way in very subtle forms that are entirely sub-conscious.

What psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and others can do, is remove or downregulate these internal filters for some time. To give an example: the visual cortex normally applies a filtering mechanism to what the eyes see and correct problems. It acts as a common-sense filter to remove improbable or impossible information and augment, perhaps even add some extra detail to save the conscious part from being swamped with ridiculous data. Mostly it just lets the sensory input through with little synthetic stuff. This means that the visual cortex has to have some sort of model of reality that it builds over time (with feedback from the consciousness). This filtering mechanism is one way mostly, the visual cortex modulates the input and adds information here and there, and then reinforces the internal model with feedback form the consciousness.

Now, under psychedelics, one gets all the output that the visual cortex can generate together with the actual real data from the eyes. The previously subtle filter applies the full transformation described by the internal model to the sensory data. This results in wacky outlandish shapes and impossible landscapes as reality is modified fully with all the information that the visual cortex has accumulated. Quite like the bizarre images generated by artificial CNNs when ran backwards!

So to arrive at my point, I posit that psychedelics can (not guaranteed of course), remove the long standing subconscious filters and biases that one has built over their life and offer the raw perspective on things. They remove all the useful illusions that the brain pulls over our eyes to get through our days. A thing that one tends to lose during a "trip" is control over the thought process, some call it ego death, a profound sensation of being able to observe one's thoughts from outside - as if unburdened by one's own insecurities and from an objective view. It isn't unpleasant at all, if anything it is liberating. It is always difficult to face one's own shortcomings, because of the importance that we place on the ego. Once that burden is removed, it becomes an experience of resignation and healing.

I want to avoid ascribing religious or transcendental characteristics to the process, far from it. It's a mere result of some very pleasant time spent being free from the tyranny of the ego and the subsequent introspection.


The problem is that we shouldn't feel the need to use drugs to make our lives bearable. Depression, burnout and other mental issues is amplified by our lifestyles and the system that allowed them.

Sure you can take psychedelics, anti depressant, alcohol, and other drugs to make it bearable, it won't fix the underlying issue(s).

I agree with most of what you say on psychedelics, I don't see it as a cure to what we're talking about here though.


I don't know why you are being downvoted (I upvoted you), because you are raising a point that absolutely needs to be discussed.

Perhaps I phrased things incorrectly, but the idea behind using psychedelics is not to suppress the symptoms, as is with classic anti-depressants. They cannot do that. Rather to change the way one thinks in such a profound way that they will voluntarily solve the root cause of the problems without being intimidated by them.

Taking Prozac will make one completely numb to feelings, and the hope is that since they no longer feel crippling depression, they can overcome whatever difficulties are the root cause. I would describe it as depersonalizing the individual completely so they become a robot. Psychedelics absolutely do not do that. You remain a feeling, emotive being - more so if anything, but they allow you to see your own thought process objectively.

I haven't studied the clinical usage of psychedelics, but my impression from cursory research is that the approach is different from traditional anti-depressants, and arguably more constructive path. Rather than numbing all emotions using very biologically-addictive substances, use non-addictive substances with very low abuse potential to make the conscious mind want to fix the problem. Not because it is being forced to, but because they want to heal. Often, part of this healing is a sort of resignation, or letting go, where the emotional baggage is fully acknowledged and the pent up pressure can be released. This is part of the therapeutic process, by removing the internal filters, one cannot help but acknowledge and face these things and interestingly enough, in a positive way.

E.g. a person who has problems with their weight will finally come to terms with their body, which allows them to acknowledge the root cause and start working on fixing it, now liberated from the suffocating feeling of "having problems".

I don't know how to describe it better, and I realize I'm being incredibly un-scientific, but perhaps you see what I mean?


I agree we shouldn't need drugs to make our lives bearable. I do find that psychedelics behave differently than other things called "drugs" though. Here's a quote I love from someone who took ayahuasca:

"The medicine was saying, “You only need to come here when you forget! Remember that the miracle is the dimension you normally live in. The more you can find the Divine in what you think of as the ordinary world, the less often you need to come back here.""

In contrast, drugs generally say "It's more fun over here! Come back any time!"


The cure, of course, is revolutionary societal change, and a replacement of monolithic cultural institutions like the private, authoritarian firm and the similarly hierarchical church with worker-led cooperatives comprising human-in-the-loop planning. Leadership currently _ignores_ the workers' plight–burnout, depression, and other mental issues–to the degree that it can, and as a result we're all encouraged to live in the margin of fiscally tolerable depression.

You misunderstand the post to which you're replying. Psychedelics, for one thing, are in another class from alcohol (a central nervous system depressant). Their use does not make the underlying issues bearable. In fact, they're just as likely to stimulate a rejection of one's participation in stale institutions. Likely, this is a reason they're kept illegal. Philip K. Dick did a marvelous job of ironically portrayed illicit street drugs as "anti-psychotics" in his short story, "Faith of our Fathers."

We co-evolved with psychedelic plants. They're a tool our ancestors used to enable us. To say "they won't fix the underlying issue," is like saying "a hammer won't build a house."

Technically, true. Heck, you don't even need hammers to build houses, anymore.


Psychedelics are not like anti-depressants, alcohol and a lot of other drugs. They don't just make you feel better while the effect lasts. They actually have a chance to fix the underlying issue after a single and only take, for example by triggering a change of lifestyle.

Psychedelics are not addictive. In fact they are known to have cured addictions.

The problem is that you don't know if it will make your life better or worse or cause no change at all.


Have you ever been depressed or burnt out? Cause I have suffered from both. I will agree that alcohol and most drugs are likely going to make your problems worse or at the very least, keep you at whatever level of happiness you're currently at. I would say psychedelics and antidepressants fall outside of these categories. Many people take antidepressants for a short period of time and then go off of them. Similarly, psychedelics could potentially be a single trip and you're cured type scenario. The benefit of psychedelics as I understand them (though I have never done them personally) is that they allow you to gain a completely new perspective. With this new experience, you can begin to see the world in a more positive light after the experience is done, instead of having a dark cloud hanging over you at all times. It has more to do with kicking your mind out of a loop, as opposed to escaping reality.


like i said, someone who isn't me was able finally watch how he ate.

Swim grabbed a big plate, sat in front of a mirror, and ate it all!

It was definitely not a good experience for swim, but as you said, it was a mind opening one, because swim was able to watch himself as a third party, free from all the defense mechanisms that did not let him see what he saw before and for all those years.

After that, swim knew for sure he had a problem and as swim is a perfectionist, he wanted to solve or at least work that problem. But before the experience, swim did not see the issue as a problem, but merely "who he was".

Swim realizes now that no one ever "is" something, they just "are being (something) right now". and if you gain that notion, you realize that everything in yourself that you want to change can be changed with hard work and enough time.

NINJA EDIT: and to close the thought of the last paragraph: No one needed drugs to read that last paragraph, it is a notion simple enough to grasp. But, sometimes your actions and thought patterns are so grooved into your head that you need something to untangle/undo/rewire some stuff up, even temporarily, letting you see past your already defined outputs.


Hey friend.

No need for the SWIM. It gives you no plausible legal deniability.

That's all I have to say. Glad you managed to perceive your problem (and therefore fix it). I too have found psychedelics helped me address issues in my life that I wasn't even aware of.

edit:

>Swim realizes now that no one ever "is" something, they just "are being (something) right now". and if you gain that notion, you realize that everything in yourself that you want to change can be changed with hard work and enough time.

I had that exact same realization on shrooms. What a succinct and beautiful way to put it.


SWIY is 100% correct about "is"-ness vs "being"-ness. It may be simple but it is incredibly profound. And yet, some things aren't actually changeable. Case in point, sexual orientation. Even with total personal commitment, it does not seem to be malleable. Not that it has never changed or evolved for anyone, but that hard work and time are not sufficient to create that change intentionally.


My question is:

If drugs "remove the long standing subconscious filters and biases that one has built over their life," what replaces them? Does one simply continue living into posterity without filters? I argue not, and in fact that, over time, the filters tend to come back without repeated exposure to drugs and drug-thought, and one is given a choice: return slightly-modified to regular life, or commit to taking drugs regularly, whereby one absorbs new filters/biases that change one's relationship with the world and are almost equally limiting. These "drug" filters/biases may generate beliefs such as the following: reality lurks behind what you see; we are all deluded; society is a myth; money is a myth; we are all one; we are being tricked into believing in this reality and, therefore, someone is tricking us (paranoia); etc.

While I agree that psychedelics do offer the important function of removing the filters/biases, I caution against presenting them as a uniformly positive method of doing so. I think they replace those filters with ones of their own making, and while thus leading to a different schema than sober exposure to regular life, they do not necessarily lead to a "better" one.


> If drugs "remove the long standing subconscious filters and biases that one has built over their life," what replaces them?

Perhaps I should've phrased this better. These filters are removed temporarily (for the 8-12 hours that the drug is active), then it is up to the individual to do what they will with the findings while the filters are gone. I don't think one needs repeated exposure either. I have seen many cases among my friends, most have never felt the need to repeat the experience.

There are risks of course, and a change for the worse is a distinct possibility. A dramatic change like delusions and paranoia are fairly rare, but are ostensibly a risk. There is a reason why every sensible source advises to do mental prep-work, and in a clinical setting, the whole treatment is overseen by a professional.

Like any mind altering substance, they can be abused.


>I think they replace those filters with ones of their own making, and while thus leading to a different schema than sober exposure to regular life, they do not necessarily lead to a "better" one.

Yes, partially along this line of thought I have consciously decided to not take any psychedelic drugs at all (or drugs other than coffee really). I am quite happy with my status quo, and taking psychedelic drugs may pull me out of it. I do realize that psychedelics do dissolve the ego, but I find having an ego is quite helpful in life in that most of my main accomplishments thus far have been by me standing up for myself and taking a shot in the dark. And I couldn't have done so without an ego.


I just want to add, these kind of knowledge comes from within. It is not sufficient to communicate the ideas with words. You likely know this, but people reading may not understand. One of the foundational concepts to me is the difference between abstractions like language, and real experience and also the inherent limitations of language and the idea of false knowledge that comes from reading instead of experiencing.


An interesting analogy I heard for psychedelics:

Your brain is like a snowy hill. As you ride a sled down it, you develop ruts/grooves in the snow. Eventually, no matter where you start sledding from, you'll end up at one of only a few locations at the bottom of the hill.

Psychedelics are like a fresh coat of powder, they let the brain reset some of the ruts, so certain starting conditions will end up in new resulting locations.


Interesting. This reminds me of Freud's Mystric Writing Pad: http://cscs.res.in/courses_folder/dataarchive/textfiles/text...


> the visual cortex normally applies a filtering mechanism to what the eyes see and correct problems. It acts as a common-sense filter to remove improbable or impossible information and augment, perhaps even add some extra detail to save the conscious part from being swamped with ridiculous data.

Your comment reminded me the "SEP field" (Somebody Else's Problem) from Douglas Adams' "Life, the Universe and Everything". It was a sort of invisibility cloak where people perceive something so inconceivable that it can't exist, so they ignore it. (In this book, a space ship landed at a cricket match.)

https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Somebody_Else%27s_Proble...


If you haven't read it already, you should totally read "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan. The book more or less agrees with your point (though I don't think the science has necessarily come to a solid conclusion on which mental disorders psychedelics are going to help relieve. I think alcoholism had a fairly high response rate, though). I believe the book "Capture" by David Kessler also covers the phenomena of how minds can end up "stuck" in some mode, so to speak, though I have yet to read that one.


Just passing on this podcast for anyone interesting

http://www.econtalk.org/michael-pollan-on-psychedelic-drugs-...

It's certainly got me curious but I have no idea where to get a "guided" experience.


Someone who isn't me had a similar experience. The psychedelics just acted as a catalyst to act on things they already knew needed to change.


Yes I think they can be used to heal with the --force args, a friend of mine broke an addiction to porn&fapping by having a realization while high on cannabis, he wasn't a regular user, read about set-and-setting looking to seat and stare himself in the mirror, the realization that was like watching his life passing in one second, helped to make him comprehend how much energy he was wasting, energy that might be used to be a better husband and father. No more porn have been seen since years... the fap is made... but by the hands of his wife.


Couldn't agree more, these types of , I would not even call them drugs, make for really good mental reshapers if done properly and not abused.


The person quit Carbs?


Someone who isn't me maybe realized he was pigging out on food and started eating consciously.

The biggest change Someone Who Isn't Me told was being able to, by sheer observation and mindfulness, wait the "hunger pangs" out and finally differentiate between being hungry and wanting to eat, two completely different concepts which get completely mixed up and indistinguishable from each other as people progress abusing food.

Overeating and anxiety are closely tied together and to be able to break or weaken that link is something truly life-changing.


Is he any more content with his life, though?


That is a curious question. What do you think?

Swim is definitely better now. Better health, energy levels, improved sleep. Swim can now wear normal clothes and not be so self conscious about his body because he was usually the biggest person in the room :-)

Swim still eats junk food once a week so his old self still gets to indulge from time to time and not be depressed from eating healthy all day long. In fact, swim eats everything, the only thing he did is control his anxiety when putting food on his plate.

Swim used to get huge anxiety relief from eating (just like a lot of people out there that deny this fact). Swim had to change that behavior to walks, meditation, making music, gaming etc.

Swim also reports that his anxiety spiked when he started cutting down gorging on food. But that is now under control and swim is healthy and kicking!


There is a severe workplace burnout problem in IT(especially MSPs); which when not addressed grows into bigger mental health issues and even literal sicknesses.

There just isn't enough skilled IT people. The industry is immature and is bottom heavy. The top performers and seniors, are then overwhelmed with work and the business is unable to hire more senior people to reduce workload. Then the business keeps growing and eventually you get a death spiral of people quitting and making the situation worse.

>I started asking myself questions like — "Even if the projects I'm doing succeeded beyond my wildest expectations, how would it affect people?

IT is so inherently negative as well. In my last job 1 person and myself were the only people trying to stay positive. The other people in the office had succumb to the negativity and would even attack us for being 'mr happy'. They were literally so negative that they just attacked positivity.

I had places where I would go onsite to resolve an emergency. I never caused the outage, I was there to help. I would still get death threats from clients. "The accounting files are the server, if you lost them I'm going to go to your office and kill everyone." My employer wasn't even their IT, their IT person quit upon discovered 2 drives dead on the raid 5 array and no backups.


I have experienced everything you cited. Especially the death threats. Even when we shut off a customer for non-payment we would sometimes get them at my one job.

The negativity seems to be pervasive at companies where tech is viewed as a cost center. At those kind of companies, IT tries to be proactive at first, but being proactive usually costs money, so it's often ignored. And then a failure happens as a result of ignoring that issue and then the tech people get yelled at.

I've seen a major difference in attitude when the executives are involved/invested in the tech team. Even when things are really bad, failures happening all the time, it is still a positive environment and people want to help each other. It is stunning the difference it makes to just have everyone invested in the decisions from top-down so you don't feel all alone.

As for IT being understaffed, I do think this problem could be improved if companies invested more in their employees (e.g. training). And maybe took more chances on peoples capability, instead of requiring 2-3 years of experience on a range of skills prior to hiring them.


>As for IT being understaffed, I do think this problem could be improved if companies invested more in their employees (e.g. training). And maybe took more chances on peoples capability, instead of requiring 2-3 years of experience on a range of skills prior to hiring them.

I disagree. There are people who graduate with a 3 year degree and they know absolutely nothing. I've interviewed 7 CCNAs with 3 year degrees in a row who didn't know the command 'sh run'. I gave them # cli access and asked them to tell me about what the hardware is and does. They didn't know 'sh run'. They ask for a tip or something and I'd say 'show running-configuration' and they'd type out 'show running configuration'

Sending them for 2-3 days of training isn't going to increase their skills to any legitimate degree when 3 years hasnt done anything.

As for what do I think is the fix? Lawyers have the same problem; bottom heavy. Their fix? The way lawfirms work is that those senior staff are treated better and compensated very well. That's where IT needs to go.


Is that a Windows thing? I'd investigate an unknown system starting with commands like `systemctl status`, `lspci`, `lsusb`, `apt policy`, `dpkg -l`, and `top`.


It's a cisco thing.


I was gonna say that that sounded like a really bad interview question... until I googled CCNA and saw that it was a cisco certification. That does sound pretty bad


Yep.

When I did a lot more router work (Cisco, Juniper, Ciena, Broke-aid!), my previous employer forked RANCID and wrote extensions for every router. From there, we then sent all the configs to a SVN server every hour. None of the fork was upstreamed, since it also had a ton of tie-ins to other inhouse infra.

The idea was that we had hourly backups of every router. And if bad happened, we could run RANCID in reverse and populate the configs in SVN to the router.


oh hey we did this too


'sh run' doesn't show hardware information.


"sh ver" works on a large swath of network gear, this is for familiarity reasons in that most are familiar with Cisco

also I would ask for a scope of how many devices you want to know about. if you have more than a few I would either script an expect with python netmiko to do the "sh ver" or do SNMPget in some kind of loop against the IPs


Huh? To better compensated as a lawyer,you need to make partner by getting good at sales, not being a better lawyer.


This is obviously some command to run on a Cisco router. A CCNA certification is squarely about knowing networking from a Cisco equipment point of view. So this would be like some "Unix certified engineer" not knowing "ps" or "netstat", right?


Probably more like a "Unix engineer" not knowing "cat"

"show run" (aka sh run) is about the first command anyone commits to muscle memory on a Cisco - if they have done absolutely any real work with them whatsoever.


It is, I have a grand total of a few hours experience with Cisco routers, and even I recognize it.

But doing my degree, I knew several people who hung out at the computer lab and relentlessly pestered people to do their work for them. And now people routinely pay for school essays.

I'm pretty sure there are a large number of people who invest enough effort into cheating that they could have learned the material.


Okay, but you'd think first rule of a CCNA cheater should be "know enough real material to at least fake it through interviews: like 'show run'".


(Small detail: A lot of admin shells have auto-abbreviation of commands; it works because their command syntax is largely fixed.)


This is sad. I taught myself this when I was 18... over 20 years ago. Someone dropped a router in front of me and told me to get a T1 line up and running.


IT tries to be proactive at first, but being proactive usually costs money, so it's often ignored. And then a failure happens as a result of ignoring that issue and then the tech people get yelled at.

Reminds me of a line I heard once, can't remember where but it was definitely in the very context you mention here, it goes: "When people realize they can't reliably work with you, they start looking for ways to work around you"


I've commented on this previously, but I think there's some aspects of the tech industry that really do lead to burnout, depression, and cynicism among the people who work in it - and this applies to both software dev and IT support.

We spend so much time dealing with tools that tend to be extremely pedantic and detail-focused. We're constantly thinking about all of the stuff that's gone wrong with our applications previously, what new things could go wrong with them now, and how we avoid that. For building robust software, or robust IT infrastructure deployments, that's a good thing, but I personally find it somewhat difficult to turn this mindset off at the end of the day.

I've been in the industry for 20 years now and this stuff still gets to me sometimes. The last year or two I've been trying to establish a consistent meditation practice just to help get out of my head a little bit and distance myself from some of the stress and cynicism, though I'm not sure how much it's actually helped yet.


"We're constantly thinking about all of the stuff that's gone wrong with our applications previously, what new things could go wrong with them now"

I really feel this. I'm supposed to be half coding and half support but the support has expanded to fill all my time and I don't write anything more than 30-line kludges that only I will see any more.

That's partly just the nature of support always taking up all the time, but also I feel really paralysed when it comes to coding, because I just think of all the stupid corner cases I've been bitten by and how bad it felt to lose data or cause downtime or just look stupid.

And yes, the answer might be "write more test cases, code review" but that little voice in the back of my head goes "you thought you'd caught all the edge cases last time, and it still did a dumb thing you'd never thought of". I find it really demotivating, and start to put things off until I feel cleverer (which I never do), and then my lack of productivity depresses me, perhaps to the point you'd call "burnout" even.

Well, glad I'm not alone. Any tips on thinking my way around it welcome.


You can try your best but bugs seem to me to be a necessary tradeof for “getting stuff out there”. Some are generally acceptable given that the applications we write these days generally aren’t for life threatening devices etc.

What I’d do in your situation is bring these issues up with the team and think of what if anything you can do to help reduce the amount of support tickets coming through.

I’d look at reoccurring support tasks and prioritise the proper fixing of these based on the frequency these tasks come up.

I’d raise specific bugs that have come about recently and ask if you as a team could have prevented these in any way. What lessons do these have for the future?

Maybe you can get a “story sign off” from the product owner once tasks are done you demonstrate that the feature works as expected.

Another thought is to write up more formal acceptance criteria with various scenarios in story cards “As a, I would like, so that”, “Given When Then” kinda stuff. Might need to google on that one.

Anyway, I think if you take the actions you can take and maybe reframe the way you think of bugs, you can rest a bit easier. Just remember it’s a team effort, and hopefully your team members can help pitch in to help solve these with you.


> We spend so much time dealing with tools that tend to be extremely pedantic and detail-focused.

This in combination with deadlines has caused my resting face to develop into an angry expression. As soon as I stop smiling and return to my “neutral” face, I look like I am angry, ready to kill someone. I now make an effort to smile while walking so people don’t get frightened.


You've just described my face since I joined my current company (about a year now). My old job was half the stress and I worked with people that were fun and respectful of each other. Now I work in a place with an unscalable pace of work with people that are angry and hate each other. My resting face is one of anger and despair even when I'm not working.


I recommend cardio. You can't be depressed or anxious if you are at high heart bpm.

Indoor exercise bikes are super cheap. I pair mine with noise canceling headphones and a tablet and I can exercise comfortably while being entertained.

The best cure for my brain by far (that or riding a motorcycle -- another experience that puts your conscious firmly in your body).


I harness that mindset-spillover by playing board games as a hobby.


Playing some board games almost feels like meditation because it makes time slow down as you wait for the other person to complete their turn. It’s quite nice, really, although I found it mildly frustrating at first.


> The industry is immature and is bottom heavy.

I'm not entirely sure what "bottom" you refer to here. From what I see, there's a misalignment: Lots of senior people lose time doing work that doesn't require senior people, because there aren't enough non-senior people available to do that work. The solution to this is seen as hiring more senior people, which fails, because while there are lots of junior people, no one is making them into senior people. This results in very little hiring at all, and what hiring there is is focused on shuffling senior people between companies that does little to address the problems.

Then you end up with a lot of people with "senior" titles, but their actual seniority of experience varies wildly. Lots of talented people fall to the wayside because the primary way of becoming "senior" (in terms of capability) is giving you time and seeing if you draw all the correct conclusions and lessons by yourself (which also requires the work you get to help teach you those lessons).

So the industry (in terms of people experience) is bottom-heavy in the work pool. Places that can afford it are top heavy in talent+experience, and everyone else is bottom-heavy in low experience, and neither type of place is doing anything to really address their problems long-term.


>So the industry (in terms of people experience) is bottom-heavy in the work pool. Places that can afford it are top heavy in talent+experience, and everyone else is bottom-heavy in low experience, and neither type of place is doing anything to really address their problems long-term.

When I came to my company I was a junior front-end engineer with no CS degree. A few months in or so in I'm apart of a post-work discussion near the keg where the IT Admin head is going off on how the programming industry is getting flooded with low-skill juniors and how it's bad for the industry. He seemed entirely shocked when I pointed out that: (1) The ubiquity and availability of the browser meant there was going to be a continued need, so the problem isn't just going to go away; (2) This problem is one of software engineering pedagogy being woefully underprepared, which it is.

In that same range of time, on proffering a solution that seemed above my level, my technical lead, a much older former hi-frequency trading developer who prided himself on his C++ code (our team was Java/JS), inquired on how I got the idea, which had come about from doing reading/research on the subject. His reply was: "You read it out of a book?". Me - "Yes, [insert tech lead's name], that's how learning happens"

As someone who was coming from a background in humanities academia and training and coaching high schoolers in competitive debate, it is very very apparent that the industry is dominated, perhaps not by a type, but by an _attitude_ that is presumptuous, arrogant, skeptical of difference, and just straight up missing a certain relationship to social reality.

A year later, when said tech lead totally led us nowhere and quit, we had this rock star consultant come on who was making crazy money running the team and bucking all the organization's process in exchange for "results". Dude was rude and offensive to everyone who didn't lay before his eruditeness and efficiency. I remember his off-hand comment, given in an mentor-like role, on how it takes a certain type to excel in this village and how there are "too many guys who just like playing with symbols, they're usually into music or something to, it just doesn't work out". Like, wow, whole lotta absolutes coming out mouthes without much empirical basis behind it.


This captures the root cause of the problem.

> how the programming industry is getting flooded with low-skill juniors and how it's bad for the industry.

>(1) The ubiquity and availability of the browser meant there was going to be a continued need, so the problem isn't just going to go away;

> (2) This problem is one of software engineering pedagogy being woefully underprepared, which it is.


Liberal arts grad here. It is infuriating how much I here how schools are a waste of time (money at today's rates, I totally agree). Like university is the only place you can go to learn things. And the only way to make a living is through the degree you earned in university.


>Like university is the only place you can go to learn things.

I get that the self-reliance learning angle is way overstated, but that's going a bit too far.

I learned programming mostly on my own, albeit while working in QA and having exposure to code and programmers. But it's not like I got mentored or needed someone to hold my hand learning this stuff. If you can read and have the initiative to play around with code and figure it out you'll do a lot better than half the learned fools coming out of university. I consistently out perform my peers with CS degrees when it comes to tracking down a hard bug. I swear some of these people hit the first wall and just have no idea what to do.


"Senior" is a red herring. Software has near zero marginal cost and unbounded potential value, so you'll always have more copies of the software running in the world than people who know how to use it well.


It's bottom heavy because IT in 2019 is a joke. I left as soon as I could for operations and security. Better hours, fewer people, better pay, and I don't have to give a shit about your laptop. If you don't want to pay to keep your operations running properly I present to you the risks, mitigate as possible, and move on to the next item. If I think something is a time bomb I just leave for another company and get more money.

There are no seniors because the seniors leave. That's why you keep seeing groups like Infosys, TATA, or MSPs getting tapped for this service (I would be very leary of working for an MSP unless the package was very appealing). That's why I won't take a position where I have to screw with physical hardware, AWS everything.


> The accounting files are the server, if you lost them I'm going to go to your office and kill everyone.

Pardon my French but: what the fuck? How can anyone in his right mind can make a death threat over some piece of technology not working? I mean, I’m sure those people do exist but I don’t understand their thought process.


How do those people even expect their problem to get resolved? If I got a death threat from a potential client, I would immediately call the police and refuse to come onsite.


> their IT person quit upon discovered 2 drives dead on the raid 5 array and no backups.

Based on the rest of your story, he probably feared for his life...


Wow. I never made that link before. Makes complete sense.


>I had places where I would go onsite to resolve an emergency. I never caused the outage, I was there to help. I would still get death threats from clients. "The accounting files are the server, if you lost them I'm going to go to your office and kill everyone."

Isn't that a criminal offence?


Yeah, I can't see how a professional services company overlooks this casually, unless they're really hurting for new work. Can you imagine a client treating their tax lawyers or accountants like this ?

But then, if the service company needs the new business that bad, that's hard to square with "there are not enough IT people".


I report it, they told me "She wasnt serious"


If it was me I'd report it to the police before management.


People get worked up and over-react over dumb shit. It happens. Making a big deal out of it does not do anything to improve the situation. I'm not wasting everyone's time by calling the cops unless the threat is at least remotely credible. I know that in this day and age of shunning responsibility being the person willing to define "remotely credible" is not going to be popular but whatever. Calling the cops when some stressed out person goes a little too far isn't smart and doesn't improve safety. It's just ass covering that lets you pat yourself on the back for "doing something". If you really want to address the situation your best bet is probably to chew out whoever did it later after they have cooled off.

As ethbro pointed out[1], criminal statutes have been interpreted such that a non-credible thread does not usually fall within them. Cops generally don't like it when you call them for non-criminal things. Honestly you're probably best off asking whoever got threatened what they want to do rather than optimizing for corporate ass covering.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19359233


Are you qualified to assess threats for credibility? It’s actually a fairly involved skillset, and unless you’re used to working with MOSAIC you might want to leave it to people who are qualified.


And the beat cop who was to take your statement is going to be more qualified? They know even less of the details of the situation.

The only thing calling the cops does is make the prosecution's job easier in the highly unlikely event that the threat does turn out to be credible. Calling the cops doesn't actually protect you from anything in a situation like this. I don't understand why people don't understand that. They take statements and leave. On the off chance the prosecutor is feeling bored and wants to pursue charges then yet more people's time is wasted and nothing happens, maybe someone gets a fine.


Even as someone who is in some regards-but not all-annoyed with and frustrated about the state of policing in America, this take is even too cynical for me.

And the beat cop who was to take your statement is going to be more qualified?

Emphatically: yes.

Threat assessment is literally one of the things police departments are trained on in some degree or another, and they have a pretty powerful escalation path at their disposal when working to vet and take action on those threats if deemed credible when someone says "I will come to your office and kill you"--if the situation warrants it (PNI).

You may not like the outcomes, but one's personal opinions on how effective an investigation is doesn't preclude the constabulary from having much more expertise in their ranks than a direct line supervisor at investigating a threat to someone's life.


"If you don't hide these piles of cash that I got from drug trades, then I'll send someone over and cut off your hand" not an uncommon thing in the tax business.


It's certainly an, "Okay, in that case I'm leaving," offense. If your manager gets pissed off about that leave.

IT can pay well but not that well.


>Isn't that a criminal offence?

Think how it plays out.

"Accountant said she'd kill me."

"I did not."

Ends with nothing happening.


That's why your pocket phone is on record


Legality varies by state.


(IanaL) Generally speaking, in the US, no.

Specifically speaking, if it's done in person, state law holds. In Virginia v Black (2003), the Supreme Court found [1] that states may ban speech which represents a "true threat" (i.e. one whose intent it to cause another party to fear for their lives). But there's generally a high bar and more aimed at allowing regulation of cross burning and neo Nazis than an angry co-worker.

If it's done via the Internet, federal §875 [2] governs. Because of some strange wording and first ammendment concerns, the Supreme Court has held that the intent to actually commit a crime must be present in order for the words to be illegal.

[1] https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/537/465.html

[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/875


Yes, but filing a police report against a client isn't good for business.


If good IT work is in high demand as claimed, that shouldn't be a problem. And "we make sure customers don't abuse our staff" should be the baseline of "how do I keep any good employees I might have", not a luxury.


If anything my ex-employer would be pissed that they skipped the line on being abusive to me.

I ended up getting fired within 18 hours after reporting harassment.


I mean, now you've got a strong case for wrongful termination and a report of retaliatory termination to your state's DoL.


There's a perception among management that they need to remain competitive. The IT service truly isn't a oligopoly like telcos are. My company hasn't increased rates in over 4 years out of fear that we would lose business even though we have more business than we have the resources to handle.


In most situations, the client is the business and the offender an employee.


> The industry is immature and is bottom heavy.

Depending upon your sub-sector of IT it can be completely inverted from that where there's far, far too many layers of management around maybe a handful of individual contributors. This is typical for most sub-fields of enterprise software that attract and retain a lot of non-technical people because the business requires interfacing with a culture of primarily non-technical-first customers. These companies tend to become the opposite of an IC-heavy IT shop - way too much positivity and a ton of stereotypical sales personalities (to be fair, the most common profession in the US specifically is salesperson). In fact, a lot of what the movie Office Space entails is what engineers at such an environment would go through in enterprise software and still does today, not what popular culture currently thinks of tech companies in the past 15 years.


Perhaps there really is a severe workplace burnout problem in IT, but perhaps that's not the problem. There're ton of companies with burnout problems and worse turnover rates than IT.

I personally believe that the issue we are seeing today is that most people don't know how to manager stress, emotion & energy. Most people are leading a very reactive life and constantly been pulled and pushed in all directions by "life"

Stress happens when there's a large gulf between what you expect and reality. Most folks in IT are getting paid so well that they can bridge this gap better than most folks. All one has to do is freaking chillax. F material things, don't compare yourself or compete with others, learn to make do with what you have. Last but not least, do your very best at work, but detach your emotion from the outcome.


Sounds like moralizing claptrap to be honest.

I have worked at multiple companies with the churn'n'burn mindset, and while some handle the stress better than others, the only thing that handling the stress will get you is more work and stress.

Are there people out there who are taking the world too personally? Yeah, definitely.

When I see people weeping in a bathroom, not once, but so many times I dont even notice it anymore - that's not a personal failing of will, the business is using up people like gristle in the mill.


We have one stall at work that's called "the crying box". It's got a box of extra box tissues, it's a little bigger than most (handicapped), and we keep an old Game Boy with Tetris hidden behind the soap dispenser.

Pretty much everyone disappears in their for about 30 minutes once a week. And this is the men's restroom by the way. Not sure how the ladies deal with things.


That shouldn’t be normal


Just wow!


Detaching emotion from the outcome is key. I've heard it described as professional distance or professional objectivity and it is a key component of maturity. It is more prevalent in other industries, but tech has grown so fast that we have a serious mentoring problem. There isn't enough good mentors, people with decades of experience, to go around. I grew up in part of the industry where people had been working for 3 decades before I got there; their mentality is much different than what I've found in young companies with young (as in age) staffs.


Reminds me of part of that poem by Kipling...

  "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;

  If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

  Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:"
(I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Not that long.) https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if---


...and which is more, you'll be a man, my son.

This poem was hung on my bedroom wall for my whole childhood. Great poem. It taught me everything about finding the patience to be understanding of other people.


This, of course, is the worst part of the poem, belying its Imperial age genesis, where men were men, and women were ignored. But, if you can ignore the wince-inducing ending, it's a very worthy poem and comes top of British polls of favourite poems almost every time.


> "of course"?

You say this as if a foregone conclusion, a statement of fact.

There's zero wrong with considering what it means to be a man. Just because I don't address what it means to be a woman doesn't make me sexist. It's not toxic to consider who you are and what values you hold dear.

Perhaps the wince that's induced in you is projection on your part? It doesn't make me wince. Nor do I apologize for it. I don't look at this poem as sexist. It addresses who I want to be as a man, no more, no less. It has no bearing on my thoughts of women. I'm not a woman, therefore my thoughts and feelings about what women should be are largely irrelevant... at least as irrelevant as to Rudyard Kipling who didn't address this topic at all in the poem.


This is what I have a problem with; one cannot even share a simple poem without it degenerating into a virtue signalling debate. Now you're forced to defend something that you had nothing to do with. Yuck.


Unfortunately, that's the world we live in at this moment where too many people need to find validation by belonging to some virtue group or another because they care what other people think. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I even cared enough to defend my position. Perhaps I'm not so different as I'd like to hope.


Letting people know your honest thoughts in a straightforward manner is important. I know plenty of folks who hold opinions along the same line as the person you replied to. They are usually various degrees of shocked when I give them civil yet straightforward pushback, and more often then one may think, when done in person, it leads to real discussion, and ideas outside of normal worldview enter both our minds. It is a good thing.


That Kipling poem is flawless. Injecting virtue signalling dilutes its beauty. They don't even go together.

This is personal for me because it is the most profound thing I've ever read. For someone to come and refer to it as sexist is demeaning.

Savor it and quit being so wound up is all I'm saying. There's a place for everything and this was ill-placed.


I think it's very possible to read the last few lines in a non-gendered light. You have to want it to be misogynistic in order to interpret it as such.


I'm not sure I agree, madam.

There is a gulf between "misogynistic" and "being part of a culture that largely ignores women". It strains credulity to claim that the words "son" and "man" don't draw males closer and push females away. Any one poem is a "micro", but it adds up across the culture.


I'll play the historical context card here. At the time the poem was written, that language perfectly evoked the image the author was going for.


Absolutely. It's incredibly innocuous.


I agree wholeheartedly. I've always loved this poem. I think a lot of the values it presents are sadly lost in today's culture - we're in a post-chivalric era alas. But these are the values I grew up with and as a result form the man I am today. This is what happens when your childhood heroes and role models come from the pages of Robin Hood, Les Miserables and The Three Musketeers.

As with all though, you either evolve or you're doomed to irrelevance. This should be a familiar concept to any programmer in the past 20 years :P


> ...sadly lost in today's culture - we're in a post-chivalric era alas. But these are the values I grew up with

Exactly this. It can be tough but you pick up your load and move valiantly forward.


No, you're alright.


‘Of course’, it does lead to the obvious absurdity that a woman who fulfills all the good qualities of the poem is a man! “The Female Man”, perhaps...


Just change the last line to "you'll be an adult, my child" or "you'll be a woman, my girl" and move on.

If you can't make a trivial fix to a simple problem, you aren't paying attention to the poem's message.


I can't understate how bad changing "you'll be a Man, my son" to "you'll be an Adult, my child" would be.

It would be like, in the pursuit of lowering your sodium intake, making bread without salt. Is it healthier? Maybe. What does it taste like now? Cardboard.


> 'Of course’, it does lead to the obvious absurdity that a woman who fulfills all the good qualities of the poem is a man!

But...it doesn't. While the fictious direct addressee is the “son” (whether literal or in the figurative sense of an protege of an elder mentor is neither explicit nor important, since the whole impact of the poem is in its general applicability not in it being specific to an addressee) of the speaker from whose POV the poem is told, the son/man pairing necessarily states that the qualities are tied to adulthood/maturity, but is just as valid if they are not inherently tied to gender as if they are.


I'll be honest, I think you'd be surprised just how many women are more of a man than most men are.

Having grown up as the child of a single mother, I don't think many men ever stop to think where we'd be without them. It's not a place I'd care to exist.

Most men are only as successful as they are because they had a loyal and dependable partner at their side to help propel them there - if by nothing more than taking care of all the shit they have no time for while they're so busy chasing their success. I wonder how many men would be half as successful without their partners supporting them and encouraging them forward.


Thank you for sharing.


What a delight. I'd never read that before. Thank you for posting it!


"Remaining outcome agnostic." i.e. I'll be fine no matter what happens and no matter your emotional state. Also called "Keeping frame." Not letting other people's shit tests affect you.

Amusingly, these are red pill concepts. I don't follow that belief system (many of it's proponents range between pathetic to downright unhinged) but I did read about it. There were some corn kernels of truth worth picking out of the turd of a viewpoint.


TRP has done a great job of appropriating decent life advice and using it to make their misogynistic message more palatable. They're not the first group, nor the last, to employ this technique.

The ideas can be found in various philosophy and culture including Stoicism and eastern philosophy. "Shit tests," though, that's just the misogyny.

Skip the turd, go read philosophy.


I probably missed all that because the one philosophy teacher I had was an obnoxious douche.


Also they need to stop working 80 hour weeks just because the manager asks. They need to say no and be willing to walk away. It's not healthy for anybody to work that much.


> Detaching emotion from the outcome is key.

Performance will drop if you detach emotion from your work, even if it is supposedly 'rational' work.

We aren't robots, and the whole brain is supposed to work together to achieve a goal, and emotions have a part in that.


I don't hold the same opinion. Being detached helps you to remain objective and consistent. Focusing on the process which creates the outcomes, gives you a means to improve in an objective way. That is why people have widespread religious debates about tools and methodology, but less so about outcomes. Certain tools and techniques work well and lead to better outcomes overall, they just can't be applied to all situations. Learning when to apply what technique to a given situation is what maturity and wisdom are. You gain that through failure or though guidance.

This isn't to say outcomes don't matter; but from a practitioners point of view, they matter only so much as they inform those involved on what works and what doesn't. In general, measure what you care about, but be careful because you WILL get more of what you measure and there are often unintended consequences (cobra effect).

edited for additional clarity


> Detaching emotion from the outcome is key.

I think this means more, "however things might go, the outcome is not taken personally", the person's selfhood and worthiness is independent of the work they do.

I also agree that integrating work with deep care, passion, and excitement is worthwhile. Imagine if more people were finding purpose and meaning in their work, how happy and energized they would be!


Yes, passion about how you go about it, not about how it ends up.


I can certainly see how that can normalize behavior where death threats are part of the job (see other comments).

Pro tip: Don't work for any place where "maturity" means becoming less human.


> 3 decades ago

IT used to be a comparatively stable environment if you were supporting servers or infrastructure.

How do you mentor someone in environments where chasing the latest fad every year is the norm?


I guess that is what "leaders" and mentors are supposed to do; lead people around or away from problems. The fact that people feel like they are "chasing the latest fad every year" is in and of itself a problem. They obviously are missing out on the financial advantage stability provides and getting poor returns on their investments. A shop like that might be better off running on all junior staff. So, in my humble opinion, either the wrong people are in charge or employees are misplaced, which again, reinforces that the wrong people are in charge.

A piece of hilariously cynical advise I got from one of those people with decades of experience was, "If you can't change your workplace, then change your workplace." Which is to say, if you don't feel empowered to make changes, then you need to think about why you are there. Is your role simply to be a cog? Hopefully, you are still improving in some way, but if not, you can probably find a better use of your time.

Regarding your question (yikes). Things are very cyclical and problems tend to be recurrent in some form. Thus, things that are new tend to be like things that have existed and some old lessons still apply. Generally, I've tended to mentor on processes, expectations, and alternative techniques.


Sadly, don’t get to school the youts in my end-job, but when I look at my peers, they would just be seen as gatekeepers.

For me, old-dog-learns-new-tricks, I spent the weekend debugging why an ansible script failed. This would be the fourth in the last half year.

Now, I appreciate the work people did, but in the end, I had to figure out why packages x, y and z and dependencies a, b and c would not play on distro N. The deeper I go, the less google is my friend.

I agree that everything is cyclical, but if I was 20-something, I’d just go to a bootcamp for mainframes. 30 years ago, my worst case was RTFM, and damn if the answers weren’t in there.

Today... your mentor is barely keeping it together.

I am so blessed to have entered when I did. But even then, the road was littered with peers who are not the same.


Abstract out a level. I've been getting some decent results recently by going over conceptual stuff, based on my CS degree, with new hires who got into development bootcamp-style.


>Perhaps there really is a severe workplace burnout problem in IT, but perhaps that's not the problem. There're ton of companies with burnout problems and worse turnover rates than IT.

This is true. IT is the second worst industry. Healthcare is worse.

The way Law has dealt with this. The top performers are made partner and are driving Ferraris and the bullshit work is dealt with by the juniors.

>I personally believe that the issue we are seeing today is that most people don't know how to manager stress, emotion & energy. Most people are leading a very reactive life and constantly been pulled and pushed in all directions by "life"

I'm certain there's truth to this.

>Stress happens when there's a large gulf between what you expect and reality. Most folks in IT are getting paid so well that they can bridge this gap better than most folks. All one has to do is freaking chillax. F material things, don't compare yourself or compete with others, learn to make do with what you have. Last but not least, do your very best at work, but detach your emotion from the outcome.

Certainly a factor, but when you're burnt out. You lose emotion. That's actually a telltale of burnout late stages, you lose all emotion.


> The way Law has dealt with this. The top performers are made partner and are driving Ferraris and the bullshit work is dealt with by the juniors.

This is not true. Partners at top firms might be driving Ferraris, but they still work insane hours doing stressful work. Making partner doesn't let you take your foot off the gas. The stress and burnout issue at Biglaw firms is probably worse than in IT.


I think it's more to do with the nature of many jobs. Whether it's open office layout, lack of job security, increased work load, lack of control, lack of meaning, I really do think office jobs have become shittier, and perhaps IT especially as it becomes more of a 'commodity'.

Blaming the resulting problems on the worker is a rather common way of justifying these kinds of abuses (either as internalized by the worker, and as a way for employers to keep feeling like they're good people).


> [..] but detach your emotion from the outcome.

Which is kind of difficult, even as a long-term professional.

As a software developer, I'm responsible for the program that I write. I'm barely responsible for design & marketing, though.

When a customer criticizes the application for being what it is, I find it very hard to detach my emotion from it. I always feel that they are criticizing me, personally. And I blame myself, partly: "How couldn't I have seen this?". But sometimes, the criticism is directed at marketing or design, which leaves me with a "I told them so!" kind of feeling - still, I'm the one who has to defend the decision that has been made in front of the customer.

Btw, they don't know that they are writing with the developer - for them, we look like well-trained support agents.


> There just isn't enough skilled IT people. The industry is immature and is bottom heavy. The top performers and seniors, are then overwhelmed with work and the business is unable to hire more senior people to reduce workload. Then the business keeps growing and eventually you get a death spiral of people quitting and making the situation worse.

If you’re right you have valuable skills that are in high demand. As patio11 would say

“Charge more”

By all accounts charging more also generally leads to better employers/customers and in the cases where it doesn’t it gives you the security to increase your prices until dealing with assholes or the highly demanding seems worthwhile instead of a hideous necessity.


"There just isn't enough skilled IT people." Does that reconcile with ageism?


Certainly an interesting point.

In r/sysadmin there's a tongue in cheek comment of 'quitting IT to become a goat farmer'

I actually personally place it really at 1 place. https://www.ontario.ca/document/industries-and-jobs-exemptio...

The Ontario government(where I live) passed laws before the Y2K hoax removing:

The right not to be forced to work 20 hour days. The right not to be called back into work 2 hours after a 20 hour day. The right to get 2 days off per week, they force you to work 7 days a week. The right to a lunch or breaks. The right to be paid overtime pay if you work alot.

I've had 3 employers now that required me to work ~12-18 hour days everyday, no lunch, no breaks. At least I did get overtime; but I'd have to justify the overtime bigtime.


Y2K was not a hoax! It was the rare case of all the rhetoric making people do the necessary planning work.


Plus, a problem was found anyway in NASA data (somewhere around 2006, I think) that was caused by Y2K; it just took a long time for someone to find it.


Slight digression: how many thinks that there's also a strong "burnout" trend across the whole job surface ? health, teachers, programmers ..


These statistics exist and have been reconfirmed many times.

For the last 10 years healthcare has been #1 burnt out. IT following up very closely. In the last 1-2 years IT has been showing up as #1 in the studies done. Up around ~65%. Major corps like Nvidia and Cisco being worse yet.

ER was something like 90%. Nursing was 40%. Over 1/3 of healthcare has been diagnosed with depression.

Whereas industries like Education is below 15%, hotels are below 10%.

It's not literally all workers. In fact there's a negative relationship with burnout and unions. The unions make sure you're not being overworked.

Teachers in Canada for example have below 5% burnout. The union is immensely strong. They get paid $140,000/year. They work 5 hour days and only 8 months a year. Their 'boss' the principal can't actually just show up and make sure they are working. That's not allowed. Basically no accountability as a teacher.


> [Burnout]: In the last 1-2 years IT has been showing up as #1 in the studies done. Up around ~65%. Major corps like Nvidia and Cisco being worse yet.

I've read all of your comments here with great interest, thank you for sharing all of that.

In what follows, I'm not doubting or challenging what you said. It's just that my professional experience has been really different.

I've been getting paid to do what I guess is called 'IT' since 1993. The first few years, it was extremely broad work, everything from installing new desktops (Windows 95 Beta!) to writing web apps to installing and configuring Cisco routers.

Starting in the late 1990s, my work focused on and has pretty much remained on what is now called devops or SRE. Working with apps teams and writing code to automate all the things.

I have worked at a > $250billion USD (revenue) company, and a 35 person startup, and a big tech company based in Germany (from California), and two different companies in the 'FAANG' group, and several in between.

I not only have, overall, really enjoyed my work, but most of the people I worked with have as well.

Not perfect; lots of different kinds of bullshit, and many frustrations.

More objectively, I've never seen a lot of turnover.

So...a question: is the 'IT' you've been in fundamentally different than the 'IT' I've been in?

Thanks!


Here is data from Stascan (official government source) about teacher salaries for 2016/2017 broken down by province, which is important. Much like states in the US each province is different.

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/81-604-x/2018001/t/tblc....

One of the stronger public teachers unions is in Ontario. For Ontario the pay starts out at $51,904 and tops out at $95,794, which is some distance from $140,000.

The best for teachers is Northwest Territories, likely teaching in remote fly in/out communities. Teachers in NWT start at $78,600 and top out at $111,883.

Weighted averages for all of Canada based on the number of educators getting the salary gives a pay scale from: $53,163 - $88,746


I was prepared to call bullshit on the Canadian teacher salary, but I just googled it. My 30 second Google search showed the average salary in Alberta is right at $100K. So I could see $140 happening for the more senior people.

Maybe I need to move to Canada.


Do remember that this is probably in Canadian $, so slightly less than you would assume. (today's rate: USD 1 = CAN 1.34)


The problem is salaries are usually highly regulated, so you get capped pretty quick, and it's usually based on your degrees rather than your job performance.


Who's making $140k as a teacher?


>In fact there's a negative relationship with burnout and unions.

Or people feel locked into union workplaces because they don't want to give up their seniority and the benefits that come with it. "I hate my job but I have X more years until I've worked here Y years and my pension jumps to Z% of my pay" may as well be the official motto of the state employees union (in my state at least). They may be burned out but they keep their jobs because the cost of actually quitting is higher.


Part of this is IT's fault.

Any competent IT org should strive to balance crisis interactions with preemptive actions.

Aka the package delivery person effect: 'Why does everyone like their package carrier? Because everytime you see them they bring a gift!'

If you only ever see IT when your system melts down or an upgrade goes awry, you're going to hate them. Even if they're doing a wonderful job.

So, please, if you run an IT department, give your troops some time to make house calls. "Just checking back in. How's the fix working?", "Anything troubling you?", etc.

If not for your org, then for their mental health.


I like my package delivery person because they bring gifts. But I don't like my mail delivery person because they bring bills.


That's why I didn't say mail person. ;) (And yes, package delivery people can deliver legal packages... but I assume everyone gets the point)


I mean, if we're going to tear this apart, sometimes my mail person brings gifts, if they're small enough to fit in the mailbox.


Interesting. I am in Spain and earn a lot less than the SF salaries that I see posted here. But I don't stress about work and earn enough for a comfortable lifestyle. (I have been stressed at work, but that was down to very poor management. It was easy enough to find another job). I don't feel so bad about the poor pay here after reading your comment.


Have seen negativity as well also have been the source of it but luckily I realized it. But that's the problem: You are invested because you care and there is too much around you you can't control.

Not caring is basically quitting inside. Is that better than negativity? Perhaps. Perhaps a new company would help but perhaps not.


You're retreading the exact thought process that great artists have put to song[0].

0: https://youtu.be/hO0TuYMIsGg


I tried but i just don't get the lyrics.


> are then overwhelmed with work

No they're not. Most are doing pointless non-work (or negative work) because businesses need to show 'growth', usually by inflating head and report count.


The overwork is purely organizational amd cultural issue. It has zero to do with lack of people.


Wow! Can I ever see some parallels with the inverse correlation of my own inward search for meaning and my lack of contentment with life.

They say that happiness is found within, but the more time I spend looking inward, the more and more sure I become that it's not.

Happiness, at least for me, is found in friendships and relationships, in human connection. The search inward may lead to many profound and philosophical insights, but so far, happiness has not been one of them.


Happiness is overrated too. One needs to be content and aware first of all. Friendships are great to have but most can't do without them because they're truly afraid of being with themselves(e.g alone)


I've spent much of my adult life feeling alone, if not physically, mentally. I think this is common in careers where we're paid to spend our time thinking. It's a hazard of our profession exacerbated by who many of us are as human beings. We found ourselves in these careers precisely because of this trait, our ability to think deeply about solutions to problems - which seems to be a net side effect of our proclivity to spend our time weighed down in our own thoughts.

I wouldn't knock those who fear being alone. Enduring being alone is mentally and emotionally grueling - even if you don't shy away from it. If you're not scared of it, then either you're one of the lucky few who are resilient to it or you're not giving it the gravity it's due. Either way, I'm envious of you.

I have days where I feel like my only reason to live are my friends and children. Without them I wouldn't even make it through the day. On those days, I fear being alone. Not because I'd harm myself, but because I know that it's the first step on a spiral into a depression I don't want to be consumed by again. I fear it because I've been there on more than one occasion. I fear it because I know how hard it is to drag yourself out of.

If you're not truly afraid of it, you've never been there.


I’ve moved to another country 10 years ago and had great difficulty rebuilding my social life. After years agozining about my loneliness, I had an epiphany: it was just a primitive fear (probably of survival), and once I confronted it as a non-lethal threat, it lost its power and control over me.

It’s great to have good people around you, but if this fear is dominating you, it will always be there tormenting you. My personal experience showed this doesn’t have to be the case.


If it was that easy, everyone would have it ;)

(source: meditation for 15+ years now)


Happiness for me is found in moments of joy and laughter. None of which in my life I've ever experienced without people to share them with. I've certainly never found that inside my own head.


That's ok, it's your experience :)


For years I struggled to become financially independent (as Mr Money Mustache). Years upon years of watching the clock until it hit 17:30, hating the dumb coders who made a mess for me to clean up (because I know FP, and if we had types these bugs wouldn’t be here in the first place!).

A year ago, I pulled the plug, and retired. Finally, I could work on my dream project every day.

I did so for 6 months, and travelled, and had fun.

But the following six months were full of waking late, getting stoned (sometimes waking and baking), having a liter beer a day (Germany), being bored all day, and obviously falling into depression. Lounging around in long johns waiting for the evening so a friend would be off work and meet for dinner.

Then I answered a recruiter who contacted me about a job in a big boring government office. A place with endless dumb scrum bullshit processes (wasn’t it about having less process?), suits, good bye cakes, clueless managers, and all what I earlier resented.

But without that I was depressed. So now I go to my boring government job with a huge smile, and I honestly love the phony agile coach, coffee machine talk, and coding up things the stakeholder wants. Legacy code - what a joyous load to lift.

No one of my coworkers know I don’t have to be there, they just know me as the smiling guy.

I don’t know what to spend my salary on - I guess I can invest more maybe? I make sure to treat my friends to rounds at the bar, and concert tickets, and pay for dinner with this girl I asked out.

I learned that it is good to have something to aim your bow at, and a place to go every morning, and a heavy load to carry with your mates.


A common problem with FIRE is that people don't have hobbies other than FIRE. Once they retire they don't know what to do. Get some hobbies, try new things, build something physical, volunteer with non-profits.

If I could stop working today I'd never be bored. I've taken two extended periods of time off (6 months and 18 months) and both times the primary reason for going back to work was money. I had plenty of things to do.


That might be, but it wasn’t the case for me.

I play music, have some pretty cool coding projects, am self-studying science, do sports, and have good friends. When this contract is up I’ll def take some months off, maybe another half year. Would have never imagined the situation to turn out like this for me, but apparently that’s the kind of guy I am. Born a work horse, distressed with no heavy load to carry.

I just wish I knew this during my working time, so that I wouldn’t had been such a resentful, selfish, prick.


I know that one year I worked from home and hated it. I realized most of my social interaction came from work. I wonder if volunteering or teaching part time during the day might be a solution for you.


You're still enjoying the FI part of FIRE. Being financially independent means you can just leave when shit gets intolerable, which in-turn raises your level of tolerance for, well, shit.

Once upon a time, I hit my number,the FI mark. Then I had a kid. As soon as I had the liability of a child, I was no longer truly FI. I felt the walls at work close in again. It has much less to do with the work and the processes and the people. I think it is a sense of control and ability to leave, or lack thereof, that drives emotions at work. I can't walk away anymore and that makes it harder to tolerate the intolerable.


What is FIRE?


Financially independent, retire early


When dealing with bullshit is voluntary it can be cathartic to not be responsible - its the fault of the system when things go wrong or things are inefficient, and you just get to go along with it.

Sadly, for most people, they are compelled to labor in bullshit without any other option, and that is what makes people bitter and resentful. Which in practice severely curtails their productivity or capacity to try to positively influence the environment away from bullshit... its a self perpetuating cycle for most.


You may be right.

I wish I could have realized this when I had to work, because I chose to live in an existence where I caused myself and my coworkers suffering over the bullshit.

Being useful to someone was a need in me, but I thought I just worked for the paycheck. As the Jewish saying goes, “Man plans, God laughs”.


What did you invest in? When I briefly checked these things they were mostly targeted to an American audience, with their on average well performing stock markets. EU markets seem to be a lot worse.


Bought 50% S&P500, and of the remaining 1/3 each in Swedish index (my home), 1/3 FTSE (UK), and 1/3 DAX (Germany). If may or may not be perfect, but perfect is the enemy of done.

When selecting funds just sort by price and buy the cheapest ones, as fees (like interest) are a recursive (exponential) function.

In Germany I use Comdirect which is great, in Sweden I used Avanza when I lived there.


What will you do when you retire for good?


I did intend to retire for good.

Now I’m thinking to maybe do coding a few months per year, and food delivery on bicycle for the rest, in order to get a work out and be useful to someone.

I realized, if I’m not useful, then I’m useless.


Are/Were there any other options of taking up a voluntary heavy load other than one you find mind numbing? Say things like run for politics, start teaching or even start your own company etc.

As you mention, this is a dream for many. My fears are literally what you described - I almost shut shop and left for my home country 5 or so years ago to start my own company, but finally decided not to because of variety of reasons. One of them was definitely rusting away alone. So I am looking to hear more!


I'm considering FIRE and I think it is a fundamental human need to feel useful to society. You have to find some way to fulfill that.


There's a learning curve to being independent, it sounds like you never even got started on it.


It's so interesting that you had the discipline to save and retire, but upon retiring you didn't have the discipline to start any good habits.

Why do you think you dropped the ball after quitting your job? What would you do differently this time?


These kind of problems solve themselves depending on the people around you. If they are a bunch of slackers or don't care about you enough, yes this is the kind of life outcome you can expect kiddos. So make the right friends.


The people around me are already more than I deserve :-). It’s not their responsibility that I don’t waste my days. Thanks to my close friends for being there for me during my depression.

To you who suffer out there, you know that happiness exists, so it is rational to keep the hope for it.


Maybe your personality is such that you can't not be working with people you admire. Have you thought of opening a startup and trying to solved something meaningful? Hire good people and work on something together.


Feeling seriously inspired by your post. Thanks for sharing!


Thank you! You’re putting a big smile on my face! It is good to be good


Have you consider aiming higher? Like working for a company in which you believe in or qualifying in a new domain?


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