It's like living in the desert and hearing about people drowning. You'd ask yourself, "how is that even possible?" But now I feel as if I've moved to the beach, and can easily see the waves and how it's a real problem. I don't think I'm burned out, but I'm conscious enough of the possibility to keep an eye on the tide.
My tech career started at around 22. Everyone past the 28 mark seemed to have a generally apathetic vibe to work (compared to my 22 year old excitement). I had no idea how that could happen. Tech was awesome!!!!!!
I'm almost 30 now. Fuck tech. Fuck clients. Fuck management. And especially fuck 22 year olds. I want to put on my headphones, finish my 8 hours of sludge, and run for the exit.
1) 20 something not willing to live office or blue collar job lives and go for driven passion
2) realize how any regular obligation will lose the art/passion side and will become a system ..
3) realize that a job is a job
4) many wants to improve lives of others.
I think our generation (I suppose we're both from the 70/80s) was pushed too long into pupil mindset (leaving college at 23 if not more) and too focused about our passions. Adult life is adult life and there's no cutting corners, the previous generation didn't really have a choice and learned it earlier.
Also 'improving lives of others' is somehow a metaphor for having a society being a large team. There's a weird pivotal time where we lose this trait.. we want to make it, become anxious.. and then realize 'success' would just be making something useful for the group.
I ended up doing a startup full time (3yrs) for a cause I liked (diagnosing TB, with the goal of giving away the product to lower income nations.) Product success, market failure, but personal success and i'm very happy I did it.
I was very selective with my current employer as well -- I really chose an engineering team I could respect and learn from and I'm happy about that.
I realize not everyone has the ability to be selective (perhaps luck, skillset, geography), but if you do, you can be very happy.
Plus you can only hear about e.g. responsiveness concerns like latency so much from the same team / project before you realize: The people themselves are attempting to work more like, and to become more like, machines. They are also thinking about "my latency" as a way of becoming as responsive as possible. If that's true of the group, you're lucky if the burnout isn't already so well entrenched as to be celebrated.
Also one guy did actually lose it and was now the official monster behind a cubicle. AFAIK he was still there because of years of service and probably some deep system know-how lockdown that nobody wants to touch so he's in charge.
Also, thanks for the laugh re: your username.