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The Hacker News Generation (Afraid of Hard Work) (simpleprogrammer.com)
270 points by AlexeyBrin on Oct 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 213 comments

Somehow this article manages to be both wise and presumptuous.

The points he makes speak from experience. It's a perspective that is too often ignored by younger generations: You can't always quit a job when the work gets boring -- sometimes you just have to push through the tedium if you want to be the best at what you do. This is a widely applicable bit of advice.

But the way this message is presented -- to chastise loren, the 20-something who quit AirBnB because he "got bored" -- is just plain arrogant.

In his post, loren went on to describe an environment where he was slowly pushed-out of the decision-making process. Where he went from being a passionately engaged team member to being a comfortably-paid code monkey. This was not just about getting bored -- his role in the company was changing, and his attempts to reverse the changes had little effect.

Sure, he could suck it up and adapt to the new role, becoming the best code monkey he could be. But maybe that didn't line up with his personal goals. Maybe loren quit because he wasn't being fulfilled.

Seems like a pretty smart reason to leave, if you ask me.


> "Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early."

No, no it's not. This is a very dangerous line of thinking. If burn out to you means getting tired of mind-numbing tedium, you haven't experienced burn out. Actual burn out can be a very valid reason to "give up", or at the very least take an extended vacation. You can't just push through the physical symptoms of extreme stress and exhaustion, at least not without causing even more harm.

+1 on the burnout piece.

It's a complicated thing. I'd liken it to depression. Lots and lots of people constantly fret about being "depressed". Over time it became easy to dismiss depression as a legitimate illness. Apparently every time you feel sad you're depressed, the whole thing just loses its meaning.

It wasn't until I met someone who suffered from true clinical depression did I understand exactly the seriousness of it. The difference between someone feeling down and someone suffering from depression is stark. Hell it's pretty scary.

The same thing is true of "burning out". I've met several developers who have talked about burnout and cited it as a reason they just had to quit their job and backpack around Europe. Fair enough, you were clearly just tired of working and wanted to do something that's a bit more fun.

Then I met one (and thus far only one) person who truly burned out. That person became, much like someone suffering from depression, a shell of their former self. They became not just unresponsive but completely unable to respond. It was terrifying. They came to work and attempted to function, but they simply couldn't. The company simply rode them to the point that their brain seemed to turn off.

When you see it, you know it. That guy wasn't rationalizing anything. He had simply been pushed too hard for too long for his mind to keep up.

The company in question was from a VERY high-profile accelerator (not naming names!). The culture of pushing kids at maximum pace over long distances ended costing this company not only key employee but the bulk of their development team as well. After seeing it, no one wanted to be next.

Yes, I agree. As someone who is clinically depressed, I get pissed right off when people talked about it like it's a bit of melancholy. Fuck no. Or when they talk about depression like it's something you can will yourself out of. The little fucker burns the will in you to live, what is your arsenal? Hallow words from people who are part of one of the biggest misconceived and stigmatised disease on the planet.

Totally agree with you.

I love the definition of burn out I've seen on HN a few months ago. Burn out is when you participate in high risk - high reward situation for a while and you end up on the losing side multiple times.

While many people claim that they have burnt out while they just are tired/bored/lazy, there are some really serious cases when it affects the life of the person in all areas and the person really needs some help and understanding, and rather fast.

Whats the timeline for real burnout?

I describe burnout is any time an individuals focus drops to the point that their work quality potentially becomes damaging rather than adding value.

Burnout isn't an intolerance for drudgery. Everyone has that to a certain degree and sometimes that intolerance can become elevated due to overwork, boredom, stress, etc.

Burnout, in my opinion, is the loss of ability to cope even with ordinary levels of difficulty and stress in the workplace. Someone who is burnt out no longer has any degree of confidence in their ability to achieve difficult objectives. And their ability to do productive work is diminished to a tiny fraction of what they were capable of before. It's not just that they are incapable of doing things that were at the limit of their ability before, it's also that tasks which were well within their grasp are now struggles, if they are able to do them at all.

It's fear, aversion, in some cases clinical depression, and loss of confidence. In many ways it bears a lot of similarity with PTSD or shell-shock: the most serious cases of burnout involve constantly reliving past failures or stresses at work, avoidance of triggers, anhedonia, increased irritability, lack of concentration, feelings of shame and hopelessness, etc. I'm not implying that PTSD and burnout are necessarily comparable life-events per se but it seems likely they share some cognitive pathways.

That's not burnout. Real burnout is more closer to having to leave software development field for farming, because you can't function as a developer anymore.

Tbh for me the fear of burnout is enough to leave a job. I don't want to hate/ be unable to program anymore.

This is right. The guy I'm reference, many months later, is still on hiatus. The recovery here is obscenely long and hard.

Ygg2's description seemed extreme to me, so I googled and found this:


> "Maybe loren quit because he wasn't being fulfilled."

This is the thing that strikes me the most. I'm fairly young still and have begun working at a company as a programmer. I've been there for about five months and can already say that this isn't where my passion lies. There's nothing wrong with trying to figure out where you really want to go in life and trying to achieve it. Not everyone gets it right on the first try, so to try and admonish people who quit when they "get bored" isn't the best attitude in my opinion. I don't think that's what this article was trying to say, but the author comes across as thinking that the only reason people quit a job after a year or two is because of boredom/lack of dedication when in reality it could simply be a part of the trial and error that is life.

I'm getting along in (coder) years, and I'll just throw this bit of advice and then yell at you to get off my lawn.

I've cycled through "this isn't my passion" about 5 times in 15 years. And what I'm learning, very late, is that it can take about that long to understand the true nature of "passion," and years to develop enough facility, experience and comfort with a particular skill or vocation before you actually understand what it means to be truly at home in something that has become a part of you, probably through years of cycling through thoughts of "this isn't my passion."

"Passion," or the lack of, can be many things. It can be a deep-down intuitive feeling that you simply Don't Want To Do This Anymore. It's OK to feel that in your early 20s, or 5 months into your first gig. But, my 2c, don't give too much credence to it. Real passion happens most often with things that have beaten you down 4 or 5 times and finally have been overcome 'cause you kicked back. "Passion" happens most deeply with something that you love like a hometown, warts and all. Where people know you when you walk across the square, know which parts to avoid, and who has the best coffee. Programming, and really any vocation you chose is like a city. It's many things to many people, and rewards best those who practice a discipline of place.

So, I'd say, hold those things in tension: your gut feeling that this may not be for you, over and against the possibility that any new vocation you pursue will present the same roller-coaster of emotion: feelings of incompetence and boredom and futility, followed on by euphoric feelings of revelation, victory and at-homeness.

The trick is knowing whether you're just on the front end of that cycle, and when your gut is really telling you this isn't for you. For that -- talk to friends and coworkers. A lot, over long periods of time. But don't just go with a gut feeling.

Thanks for the advice. I should have been more specific with my complaint. Programming is a lot of fun, and I'm majoring in CS. The problem I'm running in to is that my job is boring, plain and simple. The work is uninteresting and I haven't made any close friends yet there. Most of that is probably my fault, but at the same time I can't imagine myself working there in ten years, much less next year. Mostly because I feel like I'm wasting my life there and could potentially be doing something more valuable and interesting.

I'll keep this in mind though, it strikes me as really good advice.

Don't just look at your current work. Look to your superiors and/or your elders in the company; are they doing work you would like to be doing?

As a new-hire, you often don't get to do the most interesting work.

My elders all do the same flavor of tasks that I do, just more entrenched with knowledge because they've been there for a while. It looks like the two career paths for me there if I stick around are either going to be management or the same thing I'm doing now, plus some experiential knowledge.

Ok. Just wanted to make sure you weren't getting caught up purely in how much you didn't like the new-hire work.

Yeah, I appreciate that. It's really easy to get tunnel vision on parts of a job that you don't like and forget the things that are good about it.

I find it incredibly presumptuous, people's circumstances are different, not every young person who quits his job is a spoiled brat who doesn't know hard work.

I might be biased, because I quit my stable but unfulfilling corporate job a few weeks ago; but after reading his post I have cancelled my Pluralsight $49/mo subscription. Maybe a pointless little rebellion, but I feel like the same message he directed at Loren could be directed at me :)

Everything needs to be put in perspective. If he thinks the HN crowd doesn't know hard work or how to work hard then he must also realize that some people think it is a virtue to be lazy, but smart, when programming. Most of the profession is about automating work and making life easier for everyone. For example, I'm sure data entry is hard work but I think the first thing that comes to mind for all of us is how can we write some code that can automate the entire process, regardless of our generation.

>but after reading his post I have cancelled my Pluralsight $49/mo subscription

Haha! :D ... Long live the free market!

That makes me wonder if he forgot about the whole 'hey, what I say is practically PR for my entire company' thing. Maybe he was 'working too hard' at writing his blog to see that it may not be the smartest thing to say?

Hmmm, maybe he should heed the advice of people like young, stupid, naive, lazy, little and incompetent me when I say to not work hard BUT rather work hard AT working smart. ;)

Yes, I will say that was a bit ostentatious.

Yes it is very into generalizations but you have to admit there is this pattern in the echo chamber ...

Having followed what Loren is doing now (Penflip), I think he made the right choice. It may go big, it may not, but it is a great execution of a nice concept, and has a lot of potential.

I don't think you can call the guy lazy. He just decided to work real hard on something else.

That is not what he said in his post, and I am excited to see him doing Penflip. I wish him the best. Glad that he did decide to commit to something meaningful after-all.

My take on what is negative about the HN subculture -

Basically, startups probably don't work out. But if you bet on a lot of them, and do it well, you will make money from the few that do.

To found a startup is to make a bet that isn't favorable to you. You would do better to shoot for a lifestyle business. You are spending 1-5 years on a lottery ticket, when you could be buying an annuity with it instead.

The VC/incubator crowd, inciting young people who don't know how much 5 years out of your 20s is worth, to spend it making a bad bet that the VC ultimately wins.

(Your 20s set the tone for your future career, your first paycheck sets the subsequent ones, and they are the best time to find a good life partner.)

Once a startup gets funding, and pays the founders 100k a year, they are on the good side of the bet. There is an invisible mass of unfunded quit and bootstrap attempts out there, or people at minor incubators eating noodles and living for 3 years in a shared one room flat. Those are the guys that lost the bet.

Anyway, that's just my view as an outside observer. Maybe it is wildly wrong.

loren concluded his post with this:

> I'm going to build whatever keeps me up at night. I have a long list, but there's one project that I'm particularly passionate about. It might turn into a startup. It might not. Who knows.

So, sounds like it was exactly what he said in his post.

Very much, yes. To conclude otherwise is only possible through not actually reading what was originally written, or deliberately ignoring it.

You are still missing it. Doing whatever you passionate about from a long list is not the same thing as committing to meaningful work over the long haul. You have to be able to make it through what I believe Seth Godin calls "the dip."

> You are still missing it. Doing whatever you passionate about from a long list is not the same thing as committing to meaningful work over the long haul.

Yeah, it is. Meaningful is subjective, and it is committing to do what is meaningful to the person doing the work.

> You have to be able to make it through what I believe Seth Godin calls "the dip."

"Have to"...why? So you can be a good cog in someone else's machine?

So why did you assume he was not going to do that?

> In his post, loren went on to describe an environment where he was slowly pushed-out of the decision-making process. Where he went from being a passionately engaged team member to being a comfortably-paid code monkey. This was not just about getting bored -- his role in the company was changing, and his attempts to reverse the changes had little effect.

This is exactly what has just happened to me at my most recent startup. Great guys, but the fit I once had has no longer applied and I left. I'm pretty scared right now because I want to jump into consulting/freelance but I've never done it before, and I want to do that while I carefully evaluate the opportunities presented to me. I don't want to jump into another company quickly as a 27 yr old and ruin my future career by joining another mismatched company, but I also don't want to meander as a freelancer without developing a great reputation. I think it's time for me to put in that hard work, but I want to make sure I do it in the best manner possible. And I have no idea what I'm doing - I know code, I know design, but the politics of finding a great company and doing great work are a huge mystery to me.

I think much of the intellectual complexity surrounding the perception of the difficulty of knowledge work stems from comparisons to physical labor, especially factory work and field work.

The idea being that work is drudgery, and that basic fact is what justifies being paid for it. There's no doubt a bit of puritan ideology leaking into such concepts, the idea that benefit must be paid for in pain.

However, this comparison is inapt and leads to many erroneous conclusions. First of all, valuable work need not be synonymous with drudgery. Many skilled craftspersons and artisans are capable of doing incredibly valuable work with fairly small expenditures of hard labor or time due to their hard to acquire expertise and subject specific wisdom. That doesn't mean such people can't be or aren't typically hard workers, but sometimes they don't have to be in order to make a good living. And there's nothing particularly wrong with that. The work of, say, an optometrist is in some respects vastly "easier" than the work of a field hand in a sugar cane plantation, but that doesn't undervalue that work, optometry requires a lot of specialized knowledge that is difficult to acquire.

One of the biggest problems here is the notion that the basic conditions of knowledge work are less strenuous than manual labor. Sitting at a desk in a climate controlled office generally compares very favorably with, say, digging a ditch with a shovel in the hot sun. This leads people to the idea that in order to be worthwhile knowledge work should be strenuous in some way. And typically that involves working extra hours (60 or 80 hours weeks), sinking time into boring activities, or putting up with stress.

However, in reality these things don't translate into increased productivity, in fact they typically diminish productivity substantially. Moreover, long-term exposure to stress is extremely bad for an individual's physical and mental health, imposing a toll that can be significantly more damaging even than prolonged manual labor.

Again, there is the idea that stress is justified, that putting up with bullshit like office politics or death march conditions are the price that must be paid to allow people to make six figure incomes from just sitting at computers and typing all day.

But these things are just sideshows. The true, underlying value of knowledge work lies in the collaboration of many folks with extensive and specialized knowledge toward the goal of solving problems. "Hard work" may be required at times but it doesn't have to look anything like 80 hour weeks, or stress, or repetitive tasks, or backbreaking manual labor. It's possible for knowledge workers to work hard by only putting in 4 hours a week and going home to their lives and families happy, content, and unstressed.

Knowledge work isn't factory work. It's not linear, the way to increase output is not to increase input labor. Instead, the way to increase output is to stack as many compounding effects on top of each other as possible. Factory work is additive, knowledge work, when done correctly, is exponential. And it's finding the right conditions to enable knowledge workers to create and stack those exponential effects better which blows away any linear effects.

Imagine 3 software teams. The first team works 80 hrs/week building a product, every month they churn out another new feature. The second team works 40 hrs/week, every 2 months they produce a new feature. The third team works 40 hrs/week, and every month they make their product faster, more reliable, more usable, and ensure that the core systems are highly extensible; and every once in a while they will add a feature or change a feature with the criterion that it must be valuable to end-users, work extremely well, and not degrade performance, reliability, or usability. Which team would you bet on to win in the market? Which team "works harder"? Which team is more likely to be able to retain workers?

Also, did you actually read this part of Loren's post? ""Two weeks ago, I quit. I wasn't headhunted. I don't have another job lined up. I'm not moving away. I didn't start a company on the side. I didn't hate my coworkers, or my bosses, or my commute. So what happened?

I just got bored."

My point is only that if you quit a thing, don't do it without something else lined up, it is just foolish. Doesn't matter if it is your own business or another job, but you don't just say, "I don't like this, so I'm not going to do it anymore."

I'd argue that assuming you must always know what you're doing next is another kind of foolish.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Someone who values creating things and making an impact will find a way to create things and make an impact, even if that way is not immediately apparent at first. What else are they going to do, sit at home and watch TV?

I have both gaps and overlaps on my resume. I find that the gaps - where I said to myself "I have no idea what I want to do, I'm going to play around with things and keep an eye out for opportunities" - are far more valuable than the overlaps, where a side project became a startup immediately after I quit. I think that's really common for a lot of folks. PayPal was Max Levchin 4th idea (he got out of college and said "I don't want to work for anyone else, I'll play around with stuff until I figure out something to do"), Parse came out of the wreckage of Gamador and Etacts, Paul Buchheit quit Google without something lined up before founding FriendFeed, getting acquired by Facebook, and then ending up at YCombinator, etc.

A lot of people take it to be a sign of confidence and an embrace of vulnerability when you're willing to accept that you don't know what you want to do. Maybe you have something to learn from Loren, too.

Maybe not for you; in general that's a silly detail to argue about.

You can always change your situation. This is one of the most valuable pieces of advice I've ever received.

How you do it is an implementation detail, but the most important thing is knowing you can.

Hi Jason -- That point is not quite what I read from your initial post, but regardless I tend to agree with most of your advice. I just really disagree with your assessment of loren. (So apologies if my reaction seemed overly-negative).

It sounds to me like loren did have a few project ideas lined-up, and the drive to work on them. While personally I'd want a better guarantee of future revenue before quitting a job, I can't fault someone for following their passions like that. He may someday become wiser and more experienced, but my hope is that he'll be able to look back without regret on his decision to quit.

If that was the point you were trying to make, it didn't come across to me at all. I interpreted the point to be, "If you want to quit because things are boring you need to stop whining and keep doing it."

Sometimes, "lining something up" can consume all of your time and effort, and cannot be done concurrently with what you are trying to escape.

I feel sorry for the author of this post - he actually believes hard, boring work is the only way to accomplish anything. I've done both hard, boring work, and easy, efficient and enjoyable work. The easy work was both more enjoyable, more profitable and far better for my life as a whole.

Life is not fair, there are no points awarded for working harder or being more diligent - there are only 'points' awarded for accomplishing things. Make sure you accomplish the right things in the right way. Nobody is interesting that you slaved away coding for 6 months to develop something when someone launches something with 6 hours of work that solves the right problem.

Seriously. This article is just useless flamebait, unworthy even of the slightest praise.

It fails to comprehend any of the complexities of circumstance, time, or humanity, yet claims to have a point above them all. This is the mark of a single-minded spoiled child without worldly experience, who has fallen into some success after a short stint of hard work and doesn't understand his place in the stochastic processes which led to his creation, upbringing, and situation.

This bullshit is to be shredded; not lightly but intently and with prejudice. It should be put down for its failure as a perspective. For its disservice to the betterment of our profession.

Love your phrasing and clarity. If you ever decide to write a blog, I'll be your first subscriber.

Well said, I agree.

and its always comforting to see former co-workers. shout-out ;)

>...there are only 'points' awarded for accomplishing things.Make sure you accomplish the right things in the right way.

Exactly, and I find a complete bias towards hard work for the sake of "feeling good" about your hard work is actually ... lazy. Feeling good about tediously slaving away at manually inserting data into a database rather than coding a handler to automate that is actually working hard to avoid doing things the way they SHOULD be done.

An older generation getting mad at a younger generation for wanting fulfilling and meaningful work is exactly this laziness. It's code for: "look I know we should have made things be this way but we can't do anything about it so you(plural) just do this boring stuff that we want you to do right now b/c we are too lazy to find a better way to work meaningfully... "

My two cents: don't work hard. Work Smart. And then work hard AT working smart. ;)

I largely agree with you and am usually the first to start automating things. However, I'll also say that sometimes doing it the boring, hard way really is the smart way to handle it. I've seen the pressure to work smarter used to spend weeks automating a system that could be performed by hand in hours. Using an hour to write a program that saves a month of work is smart. Using a month to write a program that saves a night of tedious manual labor is lazy.

But it's not always that clear-cut a difference in time. And the manual way has more problems. Quite often you are asked to do the same task again a bit later. At which point you wish you had automated the first time.

The manual way also tends to be error-prone and unreproducible.

Likewise, I have done every permutation of hard/easy->fun/boring work - I've found that many jobs are "as hard as you want them to be." 99 percent of the time there is a preexisting solution or library, which ironically many people are either too lazy to integrate, or think they can invent a better wheel.

I've actually found that some of the most successful people are the people who attack "easy" problems and do it well. If you look at games like Minecraft, Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Super Meat Boy - they were all relatively simple to implement (at least their initial implementations).

That said, the author has plenty of valid points if you dig around the article. The majority of young people do fail because they have not yet failed enough (i.e. "put in the hard work"). I think that most inexperienced people fail because they have not learned the right problems to attack, or how to attack the right problems properly (I've been guilty of both, multiple times over).

I find as I've gotten older that it's tempting to write off the next generation as lazy, having bad taste in music, bad sense of style, etc. We all heard our grandparents saying these things to us, yet we don't recognize the annoying, condescending attitude coming from our own mouths as we get older!

That being said, I do think that hard work will almost always take you places, unless you are working "dumb" (as opposed to working smart). You might create something in 6 hours and then sell that idea to google for a billion dollars. The problem comes into play if you actually bank your future on that. Most 6-hour creations, when you look at the history, is the 100th idea or the 100th variation of an idea. So it is somewhat of a false perception that you can create a billion dollar product in an afternoon without putting in any labor before or after.

It's not a dichotomy.

You can work hard. You can work smart. You can also do both.

Good ol' puritanical work ethic. I do my best to work smarter. One of the reasons I try to stay current with the latest technology is to see what benefits it would have on my work efficiency.

Ironic that this is the most voted comment, because it validates the post's view. Despite you feeling sorry for him (adding entitlement to injury), he seems to have a good assessment of the HN crowd.

It's not ironic in the slightest. He's correct - the HN crowd is definitely afraid of slaving away for hours working on our own or other people's ideas that are simply not useful to the world around us. We're the guys who can dedicate our lives to the right cause and actually change human civilization in some small way (eg. searching Google for recipes, booking your holiday with some taps on a screen, paying your bills without going to the post office). However, if we're not watching where we're going, we end up spending 6 years (of 15 hour days) making a cat simulator that even cat lovers ignore after two minutes.

So he's got the right assessment - we're deadly afraid of slaving away at pointless work. If you follow the posts on HN, you'll see it's a constant reinforcement of people trying to determine if they're doing something worthwhile - how to test the waters, which ideas are working well, how to efficiently accomplish tasks. He's completely off the wall in believing this is a bad thing though. I pity that he believes spending an extra two hours each day digging his own grave deeper is in any way a good thing. His message is simply incorrect - work itself has no meaning. Only outcomes have meaning.

I think you're misconstruing the linked article.

Answer the following. In a generation raised to believe that "how I feel" is the metric to be optimized, who will do work that does not provide "a positive amount of feels". Not all work is sexy work. And loads of people are inheriting this prima donna attitude of, well, I'm above unsexy work.

How do you reconcile this?

You're assuming that people have been raised a certain way, and will act a certain way. Both are suppositions.

Regardless, if enough people don't do "unsexy" work, "unsexy" work will start paying enough that people who are more mercenary about their jobs start doing it.

What's there to reconcile?

Let people who are OK with doing boring work do the work (and get paid well) and let people who are more about the "feels" pursue their interests.

That way everyone wins and no one needs to do something he/she doesn't want to do.

Work that needs to be done, and isn't, becomes better and better paid until it is sexy.

Phrases like, "The myth of burn out" and "Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early" give me great pause.

Burn out is real. It is dangerous, and even an overwhelming, driving passion for your work, your creation, can lead to disaster.

Ed Catmull recounted this story about the production of Toy Story 2 [1]:

"So we came back, John [Lasseter] told the story crew to take a good rest over the holidays, and come back on January 2nd... we were re-boarding the movie.

We had 8 months left.

We then started this incredibly intense effort to get this movie out. It was boarded quickly, it was pitched to the company, it was an electrifying pitch.

We had a lot of over-achieving people working for over-achieving managers to get the movie out.

We worked brutal hours with this. When I say "brutal", we had a number of people that were injured with RSI [2], one of them permanently left the field.

We had, actually, a married couple that worked there. This was in June, so it's summer, and the father was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare, but forgot; don't know why... but came and left the baby in the car, and came into work. Again, as the heat was rising, the mother asked... they realized and they rushed out: the baby was unconscious. The right thing was done, they put ice-water on the baby. The baby ended up being fine in the end, but it was one of those traumatic things, like, 'Why did this happen, are they working too hard?'

So when I say it was intense, it really was intense."

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2h2lvhzMDc&t=1064

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repetitive_strain_injury

This was in June, so it's summer, and the father was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare, but forgot; don't know why... but came and left the baby in the car, and came into work.

As an aside...

There was a Pulitzer Prize winning article about the phenomenon of parents forgetting their children in the backseat and leaving them to die in the heat. The main take-away is that it can happen to anyone. It isn't a matter of malicious or inattentive parents, it usually happens when there is a variation in routine that distracts the parent and pulls focus from the kid.


That's pretty terrifying.

Seems like a good candidate for an "internet of things" solution in the future, eg. a baby seat with a weight sensor, thermometer and 3G data connection (or optionally, some tie in to OnStar, Sync or just the alarm system on a modern bluetooth-capable car) that could alert you and/or automatically pull down the electric windows in a panic mode.

Granted, you'd have to be careful to ensure you don't create a solution people form a false sense of security around since the communications or electronics could fail, but it seems like overall this might save some babies.

I like this a lot. Seems genuinely useful.

A simple version might be something that beeps like a seatbelt-detector if there is weight in back seat but not in front.

You'd have to calibrate it to ignore the weight of the car seat, since people leave them in place. Seems like great idea though.

Put it in the padding of the car seat, so even if it's moved, it's not forgotten.

Or even beeps when the seat belt is fastened, while the engine is off.

From the article above:


or years, Fennell has been lobbying for a law requiring back-seat sensors in new cars, sensors that would sound an alarm if a child's weight remained in the seat after the ignition is turned off. Last year, she almost succeeded. The 2008 Cameron Gulbransen Kids' Transportation Safety Act -- which requires safety improvements in power windows and in rear visibility, and protections against a child accidentally setting a car in motion -- originally had a rear seat-sensor requirement, too. It never made the final bill; sponsors withdrew it, fearing they couldn't get it past a powerful auto manufacturers' lobby.

There are a few aftermarket products that alert a parent if a child remains in a car that has been turned off. These products are not huge sellers. They have likely run up against the same marketing problem that confronted three NASA engineers a few years ago.

In 2000, Chris Edwards, Terry Mack and Edward Modlin began to work on just such a product after one of their colleagues, Kevin Shelton, accidentally left his 9-month-old son to die in the parking lot of NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The inventors patented a device with weight sensors and a keychain alarm. Based on aerospace technology, it was easy to use; it was relatively cheap, and it worked.

That was five years ago. The device still isn't on the shelves. The inventors could not find a commercial partner willing to manufacture it. One big problem was liability. If you made it, you could face enormous lawsuits if it malfunctioned and a child died. But another big problem was psychological: Marketing studies suggested it wouldn't sell well.

The problem is this simple: People think this could never happen to them


And it's true. When you hear these stories, what's your first thought beyond "oh that poor kid". Usually: "how could her parent have done that to her? What kind of parent could possibly forget his/her child in the car?"

Maybe that's not your initial response, but it's very likely somewhere in the chain unless you've read up on it or know someone it's happened to. And that response demonstrates why this wouldn't sell: if you don't think yo could make such a mistake you also don't see a need to protect against it.

Might work if it were accompanied by a public awareness campaign, kind f like was done to get parents to put their kids on their backs. But the actual technology - hell, the products themselves - already exist. People just don't see it as a useful technology without that additional push.

I like having a chime tell me when I leave the keys in or forget to turn the lights off. A baby alarm seems to be much more valuable.

Agreed, but I think the problem is that not enough people will see that value to make it a viable product. People accept that they may forget their keys in the ignition - but they fundamentally do not accept that they could make a mistake this catastrophic.

It's just a matter of marketing. They can show ads with people who've made the mistake and emphasize how ordinary and responsible they are otherwise.

Seems to me like you're treating the symptoms and not the cause.

(Not that there's anything wrong with insurance).

What's wrong with treating symptoms? If the alternative is treating the cause, then yes, treating the symptoms is foolish. But why do you expect the cause to be treatable in this case? We can't (and shouldn't) fix everyone's routine in granite for all of eternity. So that leaves us with the concrete good to be realized from treating the symptoms.

The "concrete good" in this case is saving babies. I find it very difficult to call that anything but a win.

I'm the parent of two toddlers and I can see how it happens. It's not quite as serious as leaving them in a hot car, but I've been in a rush and so distracted by work or life that I've put them in the car and driven away without remembering to fully buckle them into their carseats.

Realizing that you've potentially endangered them is an awful feeling, and a stark reminder to slow down and remember what's important in life.

Luckily they've gotten precocious enough to yell at me "Daddy I'm not buckled" so it doesn't happen any more.

Smart kids.

Do not read that story, by the way, unless you want nightmares.

I read it a year or so ago, and yes, it is terrifying.

Also, burn-out is NOT a rationalization for giving up early. Burn-out is when you should have given up a long time ago, but you keep pushing yourself too hard instead, and then you fall apart and have difficulty functioning as a human being (to say nothing of performing your job).

The article author might have a point or two about a variety of young actors in the workforce, but they're masked by this and other bits of far-too-tidy preachiness. He's full of it.

I feel like the author is conflating the desire to not be bored with burn-out. It's bizarre that anyone could be that confused about what is going on.

No one who has completed a multi-year project actually thinks that there will never be days when you're bored, or that it's good to jump around from project to project. This is like startup 101 stuff, you can't do a company that does everything, you have to define a project goal and stick to it. Which makes everything else in the post pretty nonsensical.

I think the best you can do is try to understand first your priorities, and then understand what makes you function well so that you can push through those boring, emotionally draining, and frustrating times.

I recently wrote about this for myself, although I'm far from figuring it all out. Still working on how to phrase it all, but maybe someone will find it useful despite my lack of writing skill.


He absolutely is conflating the two types of burnout - the "my health and human relationships are falling apart and it's destroying me" type and the "I just don't have any passion for this work any more". Granted, the former can lead to the latter (especially when it leads to you losing passion for anything).

It's a shame because he is still making a very valid point.

It's not just startups that this should really be targetted at - there are plenty of people who feel like being bored at work is a sign you need a new job, stat. Work is supposed to be challenging and fun, right?!

And in the worlds of the SF Bay Tech Culture, at least, it's quite possible to live that way; to switch to the cool new company every couple years, or to jump to a new project within your larger corporation.

Of course, it's also totally possible to toil away at an unsatisfying job for no significant benefit. You have to step away some times - often, even - and ask if it's really taking your life in a direction you want to go.

It's crazy how much I've learned about a lot of these things as I've gotten older. But in other ways, I feel like I'm learning at 30 what other people learned at 20.

Burnout in tech circles is like Depression in the population in general. 90% of people who say they have it really don't and the people who say it doesn't exist have no idea what in the world they are talking about. But for those who have it, it is un-mistakenly terrible.

I put in 80+ hour work weeks for 4 years straight at my last job and it got to a point where I was physically breaking down and developed a slew of transient (but terrifying) neurological problems. It got so bad I actually saw a neurologist who basically said that I was seeing the manifestation of extreme stress and had to stop (He actually pushed me to find a new job, interestingly.)

To your point, it never dawned on me that I was working too much. I had various problems that needed solutions and I was much too engulfed in the pursuit of their solution to really see what was happening until it became impossible to ignore. I'd venture to say most people with burnout are not driven there by someone or something but by themselves.

I'm still a student, but I pulled through something similar (trying to get into college), and I thought harder work would get me there. After a couple of months of sleeping 4 hours a day, and way too much coffee and ramen (some cram nights, I'd down 4 cans of nescafé,2 starbucks mocha's and 4 redbulls just to stay working, along with a bowl of cheap ramen to top it off), I started getting frequent colds, eye infections, you name it. I started dozing off and not waking up. I felt giddy in my skin. It was downright terrible.

And the irony of it? After totaling my body, I totaled my grades. Bye,bye Ivy's, it was nice :).

So I don't entirely agree with the author that lack of hard work should be the usual suspect, and that burnouts are an euphemism for slackerism.

This is happening to me right now. I struggle to find amid ground from working too hard and staying up till 4 am and working too little. Can you spare some advice?

Ok, the knack really seems to be work smarter, not harder. I haven't got it down to pat entirely, but I'm getting there.

If you have to work hard till 4 am to get school work done, you have a problem. You can group the problems though.

1. Wrong work Odds are you do some work that feels like you're working hard but won't get you anywhere. I had a knack for finding those and working myself stupid over them. "Biology poster? Museum Exhibit it is". Whilst that kind of work can teach you something, don't fret it, and prioritize.

2.Too much work. Don't follow in my footsteps and become an academic masochist. As said above, prioritize and cut things that aren't means to an end/enjoyable. Working on an important academic project you enjoy? Bullseye, it stays. Studying for a major exam that you require for graduation but hate? Dispatch it cleanly and quickly. There's techniques for that. Jamming on the guitar with friends? Sure, you have to relax after all. Working on a worthless elective class you hate? Do yourself a favor and chop it.

3. Handling work the wrong way I'm down to 2 hours study for a 1 hour lecture (I think you can go lower), but I have friends who spend 5 on the same thing and grasp less. Is it because my friends are stupid? Hopefully not. But they tackle it the wrong way. Efficiency whilst studying will help you cut a lot of time off.

Also, understand that we run on cycles. Sleep/Wake, Work/Rest, etc. Every project I did where I tried fighting that fact (Staying up all the time, working all the time) turned into a burning wreck. So learn how you cycle, and work with it, not against it. Trust me, it makes your life easier.

Of course, I could rant on, but most of my mental images of dealing with these issues are really strange (So studying is like a multi-stage conversion-funnel where I try to optimize for x?), so I'll just recommend you the blogs of Cal Newport and Scott H Young. http://calnewport.com/blog/ http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/

PS: You can get to little done for your taste, but working too little is mistaking the means for the end.

solistice gave you advice that runs the danger of telling you to work harder at burning yourself out. Given that I'm also giving advice, take that with a grain of salt.

"Make small changes," he suggests.

If you're really on the burnout train, your life is out of control because of your internal pressure to work. You want to be overworking yourself.

Some of that internal pressure is because of external pressure that you've accepted. You want the grades--do you want them, or are you running on others' expectations, and accepting them into your life?

My advice is, be prepared to make big changes. That's not even right: be prepared for big changes to happen to you. Burnout means you lose something.

And so what I should say is, be ready to give it up. You might be really happy if you didn't have all this internal pressure driving you to work all the time.

Are you doing it for them? Or are you doing it for you?

Don't be afraid to quit.


That said, you'll do your best work when you're under pressure you're not sure you can handle.

My impression is that you're a student. Apparently you're not under so much pressure that you don't have time to spare asking for advice.

I don't know if you're working too hard. There is always something to be said for keeping a little voice in your mind telling you to "Work harder."

But if it comes crashing down, you have a right to quit and to drastically change your life.

Oooops, my bad. Should have focused more on the balance aspect really.

I get what you mean by the internal pressure to work thing. You get anxious when you're not working, and that anxiety starts to nag on your psyche. I've gotten some good results with redefining work for myself, from "what breaks me" to "what compounds for results", but it isn't the perfect solution to the problem. Then, I subdivide mentally between work i should do and work I enjoy. The former category includes writing pieces of code I have to finish or studying for exams (I try to keep that kind of work relatively efficient and hard hitting), and the latter category includes things such as drawing or dancing, skills which are useful and relaxing at the same time.

Alas, it's what works for me.

Oh, I never saw this until now.

I thought your response was great; I wanted to complement what you wrote, not replace it or criticize it.

> developed a slew of transient (but terrifying) neurological problems.

well don't stop there - what were they? this is important information for the HN crowd.

> This was in June, so it's summer, and the father was supposed to drop the baby off at daycare, but forgot; don't know why... but came and left the baby in the car, and came into work.

Several years ago, I almost did the same thing with my infant daughter. Put her car seat in the back seat. Got in. Started driving. On auto-pilot started heading towards the office.

It was only when she happened to make a sound (she often slept on the way to daycare) that I remembered she was still in the truck. A combination of factors led to this:

1. I wasn't getting anywhere near enough sleep at night with feedings every few hours.

2. Carseats can't go in the front seat anymore. Good for safety, but bad for remembering a kid is in the car since they're out of sight.

3. Did I mention I wasn't getting enough sleep?

The not sleeping thing is a bitch. Mine is almost a year and still needs to be topped off a couple of times overnight.

We had the same problem but realized the bottle was the sleep prop and started giving water instead and eventually replaced the bottle with a teddy bear.

Seems like an opportunity for an app

(disclaimer: obviously did not do my due diligence and google if there was one first. T minus X seconds in counting until the first 'there already is one' post).

When you leave the house you check that your keys are present in your pocket/purse/backpack/etc.

When you leave the car you need to check that your kid is not present.

A simple solution would be to put whatever it is you require at work, such as your wallet/backpack/briefcase, right next to your kid in the backseat. You should check for your wallet/backpack/briefcase before you leave the car, which in turn will have you check the presence of your kid.

If you get your baby an android phone, at least you can use the Locate function to find out where you left them...

I've thought this too, something with an NFC connection being broken maybe. But then I think about the lawsuit that would probably ensue the first time it didn't work...

I agree it's real, but I also agree people use it as a cop-out.

I definitely don't see it happening over a short timeframe at a normal job. Only time I got any real burnout, was for my capstone at Uni. I had been working around the clock (up to 80hr weeks) for three months solid.

Sidenote, It was actually kind of a cool experiment. I knew I would burn out; I also knew it was worth it (being my capstone). So I got the experience of attempting to forestall burnout just long enough to make our goals. Was a good experience learning about myself.

It's worth noting that the original "i quit" post never mentioned burnout. I didn't get the impression that it had anything to do with loren's reason for leaving, so it's strange for the reply post to bring it up like that.

This article wasn't solely a response to that one post, but to the general feeling perpetuated by HN. There are a good deal of other posts that show up on HN where someone misattributes boredom to burnout.

Yes, but "burn out" can be both real and *rare".

Similarly, "burn out" can be a rationalization for giving up early.

I think burn out and "stagnation" are very, very real, but I think they are much less common than is cited by people.

It is certainly not something that occurs over two months.

based on his 2004 graduation, this is a kid - let him write it again in 15 years.

A similar incident happened a couple of days ago [1]. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive despite attempts to resuscitate him.

[1] - http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/baby-boy-f...

Uh, the Nietzsche quote has a slightly different connotation when you give it a wider context:

When seeking work for the sake of the pay, almost all men are alike at present in civilized countries. To all of them work is a means, and not itself the end; on which account they are not very select in the choice of the work, provided it yields an abundant profit. But there are rarer men who would rather die than work without enjoyment in their work: the fastidious people, difficult to satisfy, whose object is not served by an abundant profit, unless the work itself be the reward of all rewards.

This is priceless.

And then: It doesn’t matter how brilliant you started out or how much faster you exited the gates than everyone else, those who consistently get up every morning and direct their energies along a single path, no matter how boring it may be, will eventually pass you on each of the many roads you haphazardly travel.

That's not how life works. You can direct all your efforts to bending cutlery, but you're not going to make a good living out of it. You're just not. And some people have it easy. Sorry, life is unfair.

But then I read that: Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early.

The author may be a great programmer (I suspect him of being a robot), but he doesn't understand psychology. Not worth a read.

> The author may be a great programmer

Really? He reads like a motivational speaker. What's he shipped? Where's his repo?

> What's he shipped? Where's his repo?

If you have not noticed, most (90%) of programmers do not work on open-source projects or toy projects hosted on Github. There are great programmers who have never published a single line of code.

Of course I've noticed. One need not be an open-source hacker to have shipped a product, nor, perhaps, need one have shipped a product in order to be worthwhile as a teacher of programmers. One does, however, need to have done something.

His website presents him as a teacher and a motivational speaker. It also includes his claim to be a programmer, substantiation of which is rather thin on the ground. I haven't watched his videos, but if they're anything like his articles, they rarely include code, talk in bland generalities without offering much in implementation detail, and overall read as if written by someone with neither the experience he implicitly claims as a working programmer, nor anything like the level of intellectual capability and flexibility to which he aspires.

Contrast, for example, the whip-smart Steve Yegge on Agile consultants [1] -- which, not coincidentally, is how this Sonmez item appears to make his living, in collaboration with some kind of software-engineering equivalent of Kaplan, Inc. [2]. Pick whatever example you like of Sonmez's writing, and place it alongside whatever example you like of Yegge's, and perhaps you'll find it easier to see why Sonmez forces to my mind the old cliche contrasting do-ers and teachers.

His claim to be a programmer underlies his supposed authority, and his failure to demonstrate any accomplishment in the field undermines his claim; more to the point, if he were any good at it, he'd probably be earning a living by some means less distantly related to the field than selling snake oil to people who don't know any better.

[1] http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2006/10/egomania-itself.html

[2] http://www.pluralsight.com

I suggest you research the definition of the word "may", and consider the quoted phrase in the context of the sentence you extracted it from.

I suggest that you research the idiom, "he may be X, but Y."

If I say "He may be tall, but he's ugly"[1] his height is not in question. Semantically, it means that one of his features may make him effective at something, but another feature (or aspect of the situation) offsets that effectiveness.

[1] ...read in the voice of Redd Foxx.

> If I say "He may be tall, but he's ugly"[1] his height is not in question.

The idiom may, depending on context, imply acceptance of the proposition that is preceded by "may", but more generally (whether or not that is the case) it means that that proposition's truth is irrelevant, and that the important thing is the subsequent proposition.

I have no idea, it's what he claims. Based on his terrible philosophy skills, I didn't think there would be any other reason to pay attention to him.

> You can direct all your efforts to bending cutlery, but you're not going to make a good living out of it. You're just not.

It's like you're specifically trying to undermine yourself. You never heard of Uri Geller?

Yes, and not because he directed all his efforts to bending cutlery. His efforts were directed at creating the illusion of bending cutlery and marketing himself (and mostly the latter). Quite a difference.

This is true.

Do you know which translation/edition the article's version of the quote is from? I've looked through 3 so far, can't find it in this exact wording. Not trying to nitpick, just annoyed I can't find it. The tone and meaning of the English translations changed a couple of times drastically.

There might be a point here, but the whole "just suck it up and keep going for years and years" attitude that I'm getting from this post feels, well, misguided.

If you think you can improve your life, work better, with more fun, with more meaning, with better challenges, then by all means go for it. There's no need to stay put at a place that sucks for you and that slowly boils your brain to pulp just because some old guy on HN did his time, too. Sure, there are plenty places where you're valued based on the amount of years to "put in for the business", but thank god there are also plenty places that got past that.

The other side is, of course, that if you give up too soon, you'll never get anywhere. But my impression is that most programmers stick around places too long, rather than too short. They just don't blog about it as much.

> If you think you can improve your life, work better, with more fun, with more meaning, with better challenges, then by all means go for it.

Sure, but what if that is to the expense of others? The widening wealth gap seems to suggest so.

Taking advantage of an opportunity while somewhere someone doesn't have as many opportunities as yesterday does not necessarily translate to "you took their opportunity". In what sense is getting yours "at the expense of others" unless you have achieved it by deceit, fraud, or force? If you're referring to general technologically driven unemployment, then yes in a very broad sense programmers do profit at the expense of others. Should companies ease off increasing market share if a competitor is on the verge of collapse in order to save the jobs of those at whom's expense they were profiting?

They'd be doing everyone in the other company a favor by killing it, the other company is inefficient and the population as a whole suffers for it wasting the resources it does instead of those resources being freed up to do something more productive.

Well yes. I agree with you. That last question was supposed to come across as exasperated and irritated, not as an endorsement of preserving failing companies out of short sighted compassion. There are serious questions that need to be solved regarding the likelihood that double-digit percentages of the US workforce will be economically unviable, but those are separate from issues of even aggregate microeconomic competitive questions.

I grow weary of people telling other people that they don't know what hard work is...especially as it contributes to the constant putting down of my generation. If you want to make a condescending, sweeping generalization about an entire generation of people, I have some advice: Don't.

As an aside...I watched the author's "Why You Need People Skills" video on his website. At 3 minutes in he talks about how rubbing people the wrong way won't get you good results. He has another video titled, "The Power of Positivity"...which I'm guessing would be the opposite of the disparaging post he just wrote? I don't know what my point is other than you really look like a jerk when you try to act like you're positive and good with people..and then act the complete opposite.

I was once freelancing reporting in a convention about "Y Generation"[1] and the best presentation I attended as themed on how much bullshit is said about this generation.

The grand finale of this presentation was a quote just like this, saying something in the lines of "this generation is lazy, and arrogant, and think life is easy".

Everything people say about Millenials, except this was taken from a 60's newspaper, focused on the baby-boomers. Moreover, it clearly was a reinforcing piece, not a proposing one, and there were other smaller excerpts to confirm this was the standard thinking at the time.

[1] Funny thing, I take "Generation Y" as the way people who doesn't really care about generational studies talk about Millenials. I can't stop thinking they heard "Generation X", called this way at their time because they were unknown, and extrapolated the meaning without further thinking.

EDIT: too many "about"s.

> Funny thing, I take "Generation Y" as the way people who doesn't really care about generational studies talk about Millenials. I can't stop thinking they heard about the "Generation X", called this way at their time because they were unknown, and extrapolated the meaning without further thinking.

Indeed. Before the term "Generation X" stuck, lazy commentators who wanted to make sweeping generational statements often referred to "Baby Busters."

If I'm unhappy with work conditions -- be it bad management, burden of unmanageable technical debt, incompatible culture or the mundane problem of low pay -- I am expected to `vote with my feet'. It's market self-regulation, it's feedback for the organization and it just works. If I refrain, for any misguided reason, it only makes market suboptimal. Does OP really advocate skewing the job market for some fuzzy reasons?

> (...) others are hard at work ever so humbly providing real value through their—at times—loveless toil.

Hard work alone is not enough for humanity to benefit; it must also be well-focused, well-tooled and well-managed. If the clueless middle-management wastes 90% of your effort, there's more benefit to humanity when you move. Similarily, if 100h workweek and 24/7 stress wreck your family / relationship / friendships and derails your life for several years to come, there's more benefit to humanity if you move.

>If the clueless middle-management wastes 90% of your effort, there's more benefit to humanity when you move

Yes, thank you for this statement. I don't think many people yet realize how much more detrimental to society so much bureaucratic bullshit in everything we do(are) is over a few hackers getting fed up with that same bureaucratic bullshit and moving on.

In fact, put that way it really does not seem logical to get mad at a few young programmers choices to change course. Maybe it's societies framework you should be getting mad at.

I'm rarely massively critical of HN posters, because on the whole they seem pretty solid. So when in doubt I ere on the side of caution & assume I'm missing something instead of them missing something. On this particular article I can't help myself though - the author seems utterly oblivious to the real world.

>The big problem is that “kids today” don’t understand the value of hard, boring work.

Hard work & kids...yeah...remember the news article 3 weeks ago about an intern in London dying from working 3 days straight. An intern for fck sake...not even an employee. Dead. Now tell me again that kids today don't know about hard work. I dare you.

I agree with what the author is saying, however, I think that the overall message of sticking with something, and not leaving when you encounter the first sign of monotony is applicable to software engineering more specifically than the author describes. I will provide an anecdote from my career to illustrate what I mean.

I have been working at the same company for almost 4 years. During those 4 years I have worked on the same project and haven't really switched teams. I've seen employees come and go, architecture decisions made and debated ad nauseam, and so forth. I am currently in the processing of re-implementing some functionality and architecture decisions that I made when I first started (~4 years ago).

When I made these implementation decisions I thought they were the best approach based on my experience at the time. However, having stuck around all these years and seen the product and business evolve, these decisions have turned out to be either poor choices or not the most optimal. As a consequence I've derived a lot of experience and wisdom from revisiting these past decisions, as I am now able to go back with production data and performance characteristics and see how they work or do not work. This software that I wrote way back when functioned in production and worked flawlessly without ceremony for approximately 3.5 years. Only recently and under a changing production environment has this code started to become a pain point.

Had I been part of the new every two crowd I would have never been able to see how my designs and solutions would hold up, or fall down, over the years of their life span. Furthermore, I never would have gained the wisdom and experience that comes from implementing something and having to come back and re-visit it years later.

This is really the takeaway message I understand from the author. Basically, when you only do what strikes your fancy and change your priorities with the weather, you lose out on the sort of experience and opportunity for growth that I have had in the past few weeks.

Agreed. The guy is railing against the emerging twitterati culture of folks who bounce from one gig to the next, blurting about the trendiest new Javascript library and spewing garbage code that someone else then gets to maintain.

I don't know. I've had a "new every two" experience over the last decade, and I still use "old" languages (C, C++, Fortran, even some Ada).

I'm in my mid-30s, and my view is that the kind of person you're talking about isn't restricted to any "emerging twitterati" culture. "Fad followers" exist in every age demographic.

Also, my "new every two" experiences give me a lot more breadth of experience than some poor "lifer's" years slogging away maintaining his project. It also gives me more depth in each area--because I haven't been fossilizing over the same code, in the same language, for the same project, day in and day out.

As an edit, I'll add: the (relative) ease with which (some) of the "youth" in our profession are able to switch things up so regularly ought to be viewed as a virtue. I can't stand the culture of sharing all the intimate personal details of their lives on the internet, but this is one thing which in my view they do right.

That's a good point. Newer isn't always better, but sometimes it is.

" ... others are hard at work ever so humbly providing real value through their—at times—loveless toil."

... and those people are suckers. Honestly. If you are working long hours, jeopardizing your personal relationships, and devoting most of your mental attention to achieving someone else's success over your own -- and you are doing this because your are told it is noble to work hard, and there might even be a slightly bigger piece of cheese waiting for you at the far end of the maze -- then you are a sucker. There is no end to the maze, and the cheese is a mirage.

If you enjoy your job out of passion for the art, you are paid fair, respected, and you enjoy the company of your coworkers then great, enjoy it, stick with it. Otherwise you've been hoodwinked.

Hard work. Boring work. Unfulfilling work.

There is no relationship between these three things, but the author keeps saying "hard, boring work."

I don't feel particularly bad about insisting that hard work doesn't have to be boring, and that boring, easy work is not hard.

"The HN Generation doesn't want to put in their time doing boring, unfulfilling work" doesn't sound nearly as damning as "The HN Generation doesn't want to put in their time doing hard work."

Anecdotally, programmers tend to work pretty damn hard.

The author really hasn't said what's actually wrong. He's hating against something he's not even done us the courtesy of defining (in any kind of a substantive way). Once again, we've got a classic "kids these days are so lazy" post without any real content.

    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority;
    they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.
    Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer
    rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before
    company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize
    their teachers."

    -- Socrates

This is an apochryphal quote. Just FYI.

I going to float an idea out there that might not be too popular ... I think companies caused the workforce to adopt this attitude, and I think the healthy spot is in the middle. We tend to oscillate around the optimums right?

Companies used to offer a good worker life-time employment and a pension, and they supported the idea of a reasonable workload as it would lead to longevity in their workforce. The combination of excess workers and the menialization of many jobs prompted the companies to minimize their commitment to the worker, both in salary and relationship.

Once the relationship was gone and it was obvious to the worker that they were valued for their effort on the hamster-wheel, is it any wonder so many of them were lacksidasical about how fast they spun that wheel? And when work because rote, is it any wonder that creative types that were in those positions were disenchanted?

The other interesting thing I've noticed is that you end up having both types of people in any given environment ... some of the people work hard because they don't want to get yelled at, want a step up the ladder, etc, but when you watch closely, you'll often see that the "lazier" employees (the ones the hard workers keep expecting to get laid off) actually garner about the same rewards for dramatically less effort.

Of course, these are my observations and your mileage may vary ... I've spent the majority of my working life doing work I enjoy, but I no longer identify my worth by what I accomplish on-the-job.

John is really good at getting eyeballs to his blog. His also the author of 'The demise of Javascript'.

Apparently, since he actually started using it, he thinks its not so bad now and will be around for a while.

John also likes to make very broad and just downright swiping generalizations like this below:

'We’ve sort of reached the place in the C# and Java space where just about everyone is doing “cargo cult programming.” What I mean by this is that a majority of developers are writing unit tests and using IoC containers without understanding what value those practices bring or even if those practices are actually bringing any value.'

I find this article along the same lines. I applaud him for his ability to generate views but I don't put too much weight in his "insights".

I really wanted to like this article ... but it seems to come from a place of emotion and it shows. The arguments are unsubstantiated and as a commenter below pointed out even the quote he used from Nietzsche is out of context

Its hard to read something like this ...

"It is really easy to sit at your desk when you are supposed to be working and browse hacker news, injecting in your sarcastic wit and sly comments, believing them to be of value, believing that somehow that in this false self-affirming reality that you are actually creating something of value, when indeed all you are doing is destroying and marring the work of others to your own detriment"

And not feel like this is a rant, but plenty of rants have a lot of hard truths in them, this one does not.

I take issue with this ...

"The big problem is that “kids today” don’t understand the value of hard, boring work"

This idea that you should be able to go to a job that bores you to tears, or even worse, actually hate just because it pays you money and thats just what people have to do really really upsets me. I've been a developer for 10 years now, and I can categorically tell you that your work can be challenging, your work can be tough but it should never be boring. Because I find that when I had autonomy at my job, whenever my opinion was respected by decision makers, and when I was surrounded by a team that I loved, I never had any boring moments.

And I think that goes for a lot of people too, because you see, it turns out that work is only really boring when you don't care. And if you don't care, you shouldn't be there.

PS: The part about burn out is abysmally wrong and doesn't even warrant comment.

Hi, I'm the one who wrote the 'saddest most uninformed blog post on hacker news' [1] that inspired this post.

Just want to chime in with a quick update: two months in, still 'funemployed'. Currently working harder than I ever did at my job, on so many different levels. Possibly working harder than I ever have in my life. To stay at the job I was at would have been a huge cop out. I'd basically be showing up and collecting a check without pushing myself forward, stunting my growth as a developer and as a person.

[1] http://madebyloren.com/i-quit-my-job

I am part of the generation, but actually agree with what he's saying. The article on HN he was critiquing, I also read, and felt "really, mate, you're complaining about this?"

Hard work sucks, it often involves things you don't want to do, but you must push on... I don't like paying back technical debt, but I have to. It's the most boring work, unglamorous work I can do, but among the most necessary.

As well, often times in start ups, in the beginning you're forced to do work outside of your "role" for better or worse. As a business matures, the need for this reduces and you're left with what you were hired for... this is part of growing a business. It can be viewed as boring, but is sort of the goal. Being over worked, and forced to do tasks outside of your description isn't something people should be fighting for...

What we haven’t told them is that nothing of any worth is obtained by any means except for good old honest hard work.

This is just false. Dishonest corner-cutters do pretty well on average. I bet the author believes "crime never pays" as well. Get real.

They are afraid of droning, not work. Fine with me as the droning pays my mortgage.

edit: and it is pretty applicable to any generation - Gates or Zuckerberg (saying with all my distaste for FB or its creator) could have continue droning in Harvard and beyond, yet they declined, and as far as i know they are very far from being slackers.

Sounds like this author has some angst against those that are willing to go above and beyond in pursuit of a goal or accomplishment. This generation has been forced to be very entrepreneurial because of a lack of jobs. We learn fast, test our assumptions and make adjustments. This is a big contrast to the way AlexeyBrin thinks the world works. From his cushy and comfortable desk job, he thinks the same avenues available to him are available to everyone now. Not true. We have to be smarter, faster and willing to work for less. It's hard for the generation of plenty to realize how the world has changed around them. I suggest you stop hating and catch up.

This hasn't been my experience. For me and my classmates graduating college all have jobs in traditional companies much like my parents and (some) of their parents had. In fact many of us are going to make more inflation adjusted dollars out of college than our parents did.

It may be true in certain parts of the country but mobility for young people should be high anyways. For those around me it's not whether or not we will get a job but whether or not we will be prepared to work hard and smart for 40+ hour workweeks. In Texas in any major city a college degree and some experience is highly valued and job opportunities are plentiful.

Not like this in El Paso at all. Degrees are practically worth nothing.

I guess I misspoke then. The Metroplex and Houston area at least are booming. Dallas is growing at insane rates.

It doesn't seem as if AlexeyBrin is the author of the article, just the submitter.

I like how you have to point that out. Has it become so strange for an article to be posted by someone other than the author?

Seems you are correct. I had assumed.

> The myth of burn out

> Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early

I wonder what this guy thinks about the "myth of depression". Is it just rationalization for laziness?

The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski?

Not a helpful post.

Strong men also cry...

It's rare I've been so ticked of at an article.

First off, this guy has no conception of burn out.

I work as a consultant. Just the last 12 months in my tiny part of the woods, I've seen several people break down at work and go home crying, two under-30 founders getting hospitalized for heart conditions(!) and the worst: A 40 year-old managing director falling dead from a simple flu infection. Family said the doctors explanation was a severely compromised immune system, most likely due to overwork.

This is not isolated cases, I'd bet most people with just a modicum of perception and commercial experience, will have seen this time and time again.

This guy says that when he wastes 2-3 hours on surfing the net, he feels more burnt out. And it's really just a mental attitude. Your little ups and downs during the working day/week, has nothing what so ever to do with stress and burn out.

If it weren't for his extremely condescending tone and know-it-all attitude, I'd have given him a pass as some young, social media wannabe.

But to go out and exclaim "just power through, it's all in your head" is not just uninformed or stupid advice. It's downright dangerous, and it has to be addressed. I hope anybody, especially young, reading this piece of garbage, thinks twice before they adapt the "rah rah" attitude of this strongly opinionated but completely narrow minded programmer.

For his other point about the "hard workers" toiling away at the same things for years on end, always surpassing more fickle personalities in the end. Well, I think anybody who's worked at big corp will know a whole bunch of lifers, soon-to-be-retired greybeards / middle managers who, despite 40 years at the helm, still only have a third of the influence, autonomy and income of the young and driven business consultant.

Yeah hard work is a requirement to go somewhere. But unless you just want to climb a ladder that others have put in front of you, don't let anybody call you a lazy, entitled brat for not buckling down for 5-10 years at a time.

"What we haven’t told them is that nothing of any worth is obtained by any means except for good old honest hard work."

This is such crap when the real estate market was good I made more money per year watching my apartment appreciate than by working my ass off. Perhaps in some existential sense of 'worth' this is true, but in terms of making piles of cash, definitely not.

Sometimes people conflate passion with interest, and they miss out on the notion of agenda.

Basically, if you are passionate about something you can set goals based on that, and the hard and boring work that is part of getting to the goal is overcome by the passion of getting to the goal. As an interesting example, look at people who play storyline video games to the end, versus ones that stop before finishing. People who are invested (a form of passion) in how the game ends, slog through the boring parts to get there. People who aren't invested get turned off by the boring part and stop. The same thing is true with movies and books. If you care about how they are going to turn out, you sit through the 'slow' parts, if you don't care, you don't.

I found the call to action at the end "Sign up for info on my super secret project that will turn you from Lazy Bum to Execution Machine!" really jarring as well. If you conflate passion and lazyness and rationalization then how can you make something effective?

When people tell me they can't stick to a project they just wander off into other things. I try to figure out if there are things where that doesn't occur. You know, the kind of person who says "I've got ADHD that is why I just played this video game for 4 hours straight." And you ask the obvious question, "Were you giving it your full attention?"

I don't doubt for a moment that folks will rationalize their drop in productivity as burn out sometimes, but it is dangerous to go from there to saying something like "burn out is a myth." One does not imply the other.

That guy put a lot of hard, boring work into bolding random pieces of text and interspersing tangentially related pictures throughout his article. It's ironic that he disparages the "sly and witty comments" on Hacker News while going out of his way to doll up a fluff piece about fluff comments on HN.

Nearly everyone I've ever spoke with thinks:

- they are a hard worker

- they deserve more money than they are making

- they are stronger and/or smarter than the majority of their peers

- they are a good driver

It takes quite a bit to convince someone of the opposite. Once you have someone's back against the wall with a pile of evidence that they are dumb or lazy, they will start at you with every excuse in the book, mostly I think they are trying to convince themselves.

Of course I believe I am a hard worker, deserve more money, am smarter/stronger than my peers and am a good driver too. Someboday has to be.

Oh please, change the record. Your generation has a money money money aesthetic (no, I don't actually think this, but if we're caricaturing each other...) a boundless greed. But I don't really care that much if I earn more than £30k a year for the rest of my life. I've got enough. Heck, I'm considering taking a couple of years off to read books and build a house.

There's a limit to how greedy I can be.

It's fine to work hard if it's a work of passion, something that you really want to accomplish. And there's certainly something to be said for working through downspots, we all have bad days and quitting just because of some minor irritant that may well pass will scupper your chances of greater happiness in the long run. But working hard just to get money to buy stuff you don't need, or even draw a commensurate pleasure from? Spend less and save more, don't fritter your life away suffering to make someone else's dream.

I'm happy living a life that entertains me, I've sufficient money to provide security - beyond that what benefit am I going to get by doing things that bore me?

You think that it's a race? That we won't get as far? I honestly have to wonder: So what?

You don't get points for finishing life before the other person.

"The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris." - Larry Wall, not exactly a member of 'The Hacker News Generation' ...

Previous discussion on this article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6199446

Every generation (and employers who want to hire young people for cheap) considers the next one "lazy and arrogant" while the fact is that life really is becoming easier across the board. In my opinion, the author is confusing "boring work".

There is two kinds of boring work. One is where you are still committed to the end goal but some things just have to be done in order to achieve it. There's no arguing about this and I think even the new generation recognizes the value of it and the value of going through the "dip" and finishing things.

The other is when you become disinterested in the end goal itself. Leaving this kind of boring work is a good thing. It's a shame to continue working on uninspiring projects especially when there are so many other opportunities. Life is too short for that. Adding some whitespace to one's life is how you move on to better opportunities.

This article comes out as attacking the second category as well. For example, he compares this to "the vapid life of a vagabond merrily traveling from pleasure to pleasure in life ever thirsting, but never being quenched, every tasting, but never consuming.".

Vagabonds have vapid lives? That's a bit presumptuous. "Not all who wander are lost."

TL;DR: In the society we live in, you are expected to spend a good chunk of your waking hours wading in shit. We have gotten together and decided that wading in shit is virtuous and builds character, and if you don't like wading through shit and try to avoid it or do less of it, you are objectively a bad person. Wanting to spend more time with your family and friends or pursuing hobbies and interests (other than wading in shit) is a sign of laziness and malformed character; so are outlandish malingerer's claims like "burnout" or "clinical depression". Your entire educational curriculum is designed by people who enjoy wading in shit and expect that you will too. If, upon graduation into the real world, you find that you do not enjoy wading in shit, we will shake our heads sadly and wonder how we failed to inculcate you with a seemly affection for shit-wading. If you are lucky enough to enjoy wading in shit, you are a superior species of human and deserve to be smug about it.

(Not addressed: The unthinkably heretical notion that we, in the first stirrings of post-scarcity, might perhaps look to and work toward a future where people don't have to wade in shit if they don't want to.)

If this were a post worthy of the front page of Hacker News, it wouldn't read like this:

"Unfortunately this kind of thinking and mentality seems to accurately embody much of the general ignorance and blatant stupidity of the next generation of software developers."

It's trash if it has to make its point by going to such great and obvious lengths to insult the topic audience, rather than just explaining why without relying on said insult as an introduction.

Rertrand Russell acknowledged that only a fraction of people need to do real work. As we move towards a more efficient society we will see this manifested, in that the only people working will be doing it `for the fun of it`. I'd take a burnt out hacker over the business major whose only interest is playing xbox any day. I think we forget how lazy 90% of our generation really is.

Yeah, at the start of the article I was already in disagreement after the equating of "grinding it out", "boring work", and "working hard". Sounds a little too self-justifying.

I'm in my 30s but quit the startup and bigcorp stuff to work less and be happier. I put in plenty of time busting ass for people way over my pay grade for 8 years. Honestly, a lot of the higher-ups in technology really don't care about those extra hours you put in, because often it's basically free to them.

Now I can work in a billable hours business and do pretty well with respect all around. I enjoy it, can explore new technologies, without being a full time drone.

Sorry to the author, but I don't think that makes me someone who needs to be talked down to. He doesn't seem to understand the concept that you can love what you do for a paycheck but placing more importance in other things is not a personality defect.

Hey, Mike. Whatcha up to these days? (Also: guess who I'm visiting at the moment.)

>Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early.

No. Fuck that noise.

Has the author ever seen someone who's burnt out? It is not a pretty sight, it is though the person is but an empty shell of what he once was (I know this sounds incredibly corny, but it really is the shortest way in which I can describe "being burnt out").

"There need be no real danger of it ever becoming a drudge, for any processes that are quite mechanical may be turned over to the machine itself."

--Alan Turing

I agree 100% with the author about the spoiled brat mentality of this generation of developers. I personally prefer to hire older developers because a) they tend to be steady producers, and b) they have the maturity to understand that sometimes work sucks and c) provided managers don't treat them like shit, they tend to stick around. The flip side of the deal is I am not going to work them to death or make unreasonable demands unless we're in a do or die situation.

Guess what kids. Work can be boring. If you're writing reporting software for a utility grid monitoring company, it's probably not your "passion", but it'll pay for your mortgage, your kids school, and time off.

It's perfectly fine for you to hire older developers, particularly if you're writing reporting software for a utility grid monitoring company. A younger developer probably isn't going to want to do that job anyway. The reason we have a market economy in the first place is so that people can find the work the matches their interests and abilities best, and then get paid well for doing it to the best of their abilities.

Why a younger developer wouldn't want to write reporting software for a grid monitoring company? Sounds more interesting than webapps.

I don't think there's anything stopping them if they really do. The grandparent poster is talking about people who think they "above" the work. Someone who really wants to do the work isn't going to act like they're above it, and is probably going to do just fine at it. That's the system working as intended.

My experience with "enterprise" development ("writing reporting software", or "CRUD replacement for Excel Spreadsheet X") is that those companies don't actually pay decent salaries, even for the mundane, trivial development work required. They might "pay the mortgage" in some one-horse town in the midwest or deep south, but in places where most people live they won't.

What's more, those settings are usually filled with toxic garbage like cliques of people who've been there 5, 10, 20 years and play gossip or petty politics games, middle-managers who view their subordinates as enemies (competition) or scapegoats (when said middle-managers fail to deliver because of their own inability to lead a team), and departments who treat developers like unskilled labor or some sort of awkward add-on to the IT department. Middle- and upper-management at these places are some of the most spoiled self-entitled pricks I've ever encountered. They are also frequently the most unjustifiably arrogant, incompetent hypocrites in the organization.

Sure, somebody has to do the work in those settings. More power to the people who can. That doesn't mean they're better people (or worse) than those who can't stomach that kind of work or putting up with the spoiled-brat, unjustifiably arrogant faux-authority of petty jerk managers. It takes real maturity--not the fake, arbitrary kind you suggest in (b)--to understand that.

This isn't to pooh-pooh your points (a) and (c) about older workers; being an older worker (in IT terms; I'm mid-30s) I see what inexperience (which is most often associated with youth) means in terms of output, focus, and durability. But neither one fits in with your larger narrative necessarily.

> b) they have the maturity to understand that sometimes work sucks and c) provided managers don't treat them like shit, they tend to stick around.

Flip it around: What happens when you pay non-seniors at a non-senior rate? They go get a better paid job. How surprising.

I am one of the people this article talks about, and I agree heartily. Fortunately I've long since identified this personal issue and have been working to improve myself. In all those years I spent watching peers working hard and struggling with things I did not, I had a nagging suspicion there were hidden benefits to their struggle.

Now I know. Today they are better at getting shit done. They can grind through the menial day to day minutiae real world projects are burdened with whereas I tend to obsess over the pockets that are "interesting". Working on it though...

I have to say, I agree with real moderate amount of this. There is sort of an echo chamber and a bit of a crazy echo chamber where people are cheered living in their cars like crazy people and think that says something about their entrepreneurial spirit.

But there's another side to this post that is a bit unfair to HN and generalizes us too much and the "these kids today" language ... I don't know, it's like he has a very good point and I agree with to such a large degree but he almost goes too far with the insults.

However, I do agree the initial blog post he is referencing raises so many flags for me. The first paragraph is like "I worked their two months" and then he got bored.

If I was the simpleprogrammer.com author, I would probably would have written this very same blog post in reaction to the other one. It is just outlandish crazy-talk ... But then I would have tried to calm down and not quite go after all of HN with such vitriol.

But I agree, the crazy he is responding to does kind of come out of an echo chamber in our community; down the whole "I'm going to make a publicity ploy by making a website dedicated to company X hiring me" stuff.

I think the language could be toned down a little but I think we can all learn from this as well. Perhaps if the language had been less acidic, we wouldn't have paid attention though.

Whenever I read something like this, about the virtue of work ethic, and the vice of laziness I always think back to the phrase on those Auschwitz gates:

Arbeit macht frei

Working hard on something you're passionate is good. Working hard on an important far out goal is good (whether you enjoy it or not). Simply working hard in and of itself is not something I'd consider a virtue. In fact it may be a sign of stupidity.

I'm just finishing up a web based ordering and accounting system. Me and one other guy wrote it. It runs a $100,000,000 company, it keeps all the orders and books, day in and day out. It took two years of my life to write, I slept fitfully for most of that time. I doubted myself and my team mate (but he stuck through it and my doubt made me ashamed). Now that the system is up and running I'm extremely proud. But I know that 90% of the programmers I'll meet for the rest of my life won't even believe I did this. Very few people I've met can conceptualize the work effort required to complete a feat like this. This idea is lost on my generation of peers, it's gone and it's not coming back. The "me" generation is fundamentally lacking in this way. I mourn this a little every day b/c I can't relate my achievements to them, they just don't understand. They think I'm the one who needs to change...

> Burn out is just a rationalization for giving up early.

That kind of talk is not only monumentally ignorant, but it is downright dangerous. If anything, it shows that you haven't ever really worked hard in your entire life.

Anyone who thinks burn out is some sort of myth should just go check the major universities' suicide rates among their overachieving students.

This is a complicated topic, in which I think there must be some kind of balance.

There are the lazy ones from the perspective that they are too lazy to put their heads down and do the hard/boring work, and there are the lazy ones from the perspective that they are too lazy to get out of their comfort zone, even though the work is hard/boring.

"...will eventually pass you on each of the many roads you haphazardly travel."

This post assumes that there is a single criterion for success that is universal to all people, and that those who move "haphazardly" between pursuits will fail to meet this criterion.

The truth is that some people are maximizers who define success through things like financial achievement, and some people are satisficers for whom success is truly getting to work on things you love every day.

I do agree that this generation (myself included?) is much too willing to give up on something that is getting boring / tiresome in favor of something new, when continuing on the original path would have in fact made them successful shortly. The only project I've stuck with for > 4 years in my entire life is paying off, largely because of my team's dogged pursuit of the same goal, even when things got tiresome.

I'm not really one to talk about "kids these days" given that my longest job at one place was a little over 3 years. It's part of my personality. I get bored, what can I say. I'm looking for completion of my soul. It's out here I know it.. I saw it at the Porsche dealership I think.

Does writing yet another article about those darn kids these days count as hard, boring work or easy, enjoyable work?

It's hard work to determine the answer. The author seems to think it's an obvious life lesson. So it's easy for him to understand, and probably enjoyable to write. Maybe boring to keep clicking on the 'bold html' button?

I'm so confused!

Hi John Snmez, I am one of those you talk about: I've left my job at the most awesomest start up in the world to create my company. I believe I've failed, failed to stay in those companies, failed to get value out of my employments, even if my 6-years carrer got me into world class places, even though I was the last guy in the office every day and I never look at HN at work. I admit working hard isn't even enough, one need to work hard and good. But hey, who should guide me into working "good"? I've left, because I didn't learn that where I was.

Hence my question: Could you please provide the criteria to distinguish between slackness/"leaving to pursue an opportunity that you love" and the right thing to do/"leaving to spend the right time to learn more and avoid productivity pressure"?

Pick a direction, ride it out to see where it goes. If it doesn't work out, start again. All I am saying is don't get in the cab and pay the fair and them jump out of the window when the ride gets bumpy. Hang on a bit, ride through the bumps and get to your destination. Perhaps this takes a year or 2, but don't give up before you get there because you are bored or the work is hard.

Ok, I did stay more than a year or two in every job, and I want to be in control of my work, and I was no way near of achieving this simple goal when I left. Job done, I move on.

I think the definition of value is important, and I believe there is a large disconnect between generations and even individuals on this. Many in the younger generations value experience far more highly than tangible assets and career trajectory. That is why they are so fickle and likely to move from one thing to the next. While older generations say 34 years older, are interested in career trajectories, legacy building, and building a family home/unit.

The method in which you choose to carry out your professional duties is much more closely tied to the type value you wish to create, than some vacant concept of lazyness or not understanding hard-work.

I think a more pertinent argument is whether the younger generation is mistaken in their goal to gain experiences as opposed to building longterm tangible capital and careers.

I don't really understand what he's trying to say. He says:

> Your passion may at first carry you further than your peers. But, overtime you’ll find those peers of yours that were willing to put in the hard work and stick to one thing, as boring as it might have been for them, will overtake you.


> It doesn’t matter how brilliant you started out or how much faster you exited the gates than everyone else, those who consistently get up every morning and direct their energies along a single path, no matter how boring it may be, will eventually pass you on each of the many roads you haphazardly travel.

What does he mean by "overtake you"? In wealth? Specialised experience?

It sounds like he's just butthurt about having worked hard at things he didn't enjoy.

"I wish I worked harder" said nobody on their deathbed ever.

There's a difference between working hard as a corporate slave and working hard on something you personally believe in. A big difference the author doesn't seem to understand...

There is a sort of Irony in this post, which I think most people intuitively feel. That is of the leader complaining that his followers are no good at following. This is of course, a classic sign of weak leaderhsip. Not poor follower-ship.

I had a project manager we were interviewing decline a 2nd interview because he read some reviews on glassdoor that indicated he might have to work hard. Just the idea that there was a chance he might have to put in time on a night or weekend scared him off. Now granted this was the culture years ago and maybe in other groups but he didnt even bother to ask about it just took the reviews from ex bitter employees (does anyone else but bitter people leave feedback on that site?) as gospel. I guess its better he took himself out of the running. He has also been unemployed for several months.

I disagree with the OP.

It's never been widely claimed that "Work should be fun." There's a reason work is called work. :)

And there's a lot of "hard, boring work". In my lifetime, I've worked on the farm, in fast food, in factories, in the military, in wafer fabs, at desks, in school and at work benches in all sorts of crazy roles enduring all sorts of physical and mental strains.

Creating the same damn CRUD application over and over for years is just as dull as chopping weeds in a oats field. It pays more, but at a certain point a creative mind wants difference, a challenge, something to accomplish.

Sorry, but this post reeks a little too much of "I spent my youth in a boring shit job and so should everybody else".

Where's the problem if someone decides that he doesn't want to keep working in a boring job?

It does matter what passion you pursue. The right passion will drive you to get better. The passion for just getting along with people who don't give a toss will leave you utterly dissatisfied, physically tense, and miserable.

It takes some experience in experiencing how poorly dispassionate and, inevitably, disappointed, people can be to be sunk in this.

You may want to read this - http://www.strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/.

If you have more time, read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

I'm not sure what you mean with the Pullman. Could you elaborate on this?

It seemed like you were relating His Dark Materials to the content of the strikemag article, but are you just suggesting that we should read a good book?

> If you have more time, read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.

I read them couple of times when I was a teenager, but I can't make the connection here.

tBlind, religious following. Your daemon dying... You being disconnected from your daemon. Yes, tenuous, but existing... OP is a man without a daemon. Tenuous, but existing. Read it again...

"It doesn’t matter how brilliant you started out or how much faster you exited the gates than everyone else, those who consistently get up every morning and direct their energies along a single path, no matter how boring it may be, will eventually pass you on each of the many roads you haphazardly travel."

So what if they will pass ? I prefer to be left behind and do something I like. Life is not about getting ahead of others, some take joy in getting ahead of others, while some enjoy being left behind but doing their thing.

I find this article a terrible sweeping generalization and opinionated based on the authors perception of success and what it takes to be successful.How about working smarter and not harder

Why is this article HN worthy? It is just some person who still hasn't realized that it doesn't matter how hard you work, if what you work at isn't worth working at.

If you can see beyond provocative part without getting offended you'll see that the post main point is how persistence and grit beat passion and being smart. Hardly anyone can argue with that.

"It doesn’t matter how brilliant you started out or how much faster you exited the gates than everyone else, those who consistently get up every morning and direct their energies along a single path, no matter how boring it may be, will eventually pass you on each of the many roads you haphazardly travel."

For a different view on working hard, take a look at In Praise of Idleness By Bertrand Russell " I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached."


Every generation since the dawn of humanity has claimed that the one before it is lazy. And what's more what is that noise they call music these days?

> nothing of any worth is obtained by any means except for good old honest hard work

This sounds nice as a slogan on a motivational poster, but is it actually true? On the one hand, I sort of understand what he's trying to say: many things in life require significant effort. But the phrase "nothing of any worth" is a little extreme... worth is pretty subjective, after all.

Anyone who has lived through their 20s understands that 20-somethings are not yet adults and don't quite get how the world works. They'll be forced to live in it with responsibility soon enough. Don't shame them for trying to explore the boundaries and make mistakes along the way. Your path is not the only one.

The Nietzsche quote is not only out of (very meaningful) context, but also from a poor prewar translation, as far as I can tell. Even so, anyone even slightly familiar with Nietzsche's tone should see the irony of appropriating this in the article's reasoning.

I don't think i want to work that hard.. i lived and worked in the U.S for a short time and i tasted what is to work very hard.

I discoverd that i prefer to work a little less hard doing things at my own speed, even if i don't develop my "full potential".

Wow: saddest most uninformed blog post on hacker news yesterday. Personal story is "uninformed"? Sounds a little totalitarian. I think this blog post is uninformed and quite out of line.

This article states so many hypotheses the are unproven, and the author is making absolutely no attempts to prove them.

Also, I know that I am addressing the "tone" of the article[1], but there is simply so much of that self acclaimed witty know it all attitude that he claims is dominating HN.

What he fails to understand (which I believe is the core reason responsible for his post) is that life, is a very personal experience. So is work (any type of work, not just job-work).

Secondly, he is having a rant (call it what you want, but this is effectively a damn rant) about people (these are all people he is talking about) he knows nothing about.

I've known people (I did it myself too) who did things and lied about their motivation, because they were embarrassed, wanted support, etc. An example is my friend who lost her father at a very young age (15) and her life was upside down for a while, but she was better and everything was fine for a year or two, but it wasn't. She claimed she got "bored of physics" (which was her high school degree), but she was too embarrassed to admit that it was because it reminded her of her late dad every day, who was also a (retired) physicists.

A more personal example: I was ruining my life, I was perfectly aware of what I was doing, too. I didn't care, though. I had no power, no will, no motivation to do anything about it. My life was literally out of my control. I just didn't. I was driving my mum crazy with my "care free" facade, which was to protect her from something I couldn't explain, and I simply knew she'd blame it on herself (she is an overprotective single mum, just to draw a picture): On the inside I felt worthless, I wanted to drop out of university. I considered suicide many times, I even went as far as planning one that would look like an accident (thankfully a great friend saved my life without realising it). I'd go to "classes," but I was really just sitting in a park, I felt too tired to move. The sunlight felt like it was pushing me down, the shadows felt heavy (shadows one is not even a metaphot) . I had a friend for a very long time who realised it wasn't just a phase and forced me to seek help: turns out I was depressed since early childhood. Nobody realised it because child depression symptoms are different than adolescent or adult ones. Everyone thinks depression just makes you sad. Well, it's a way bigger clusterfuck that most, unless they've been through it, can even fathom. You can't be bothered to do things you are passionate about, doing something you don't like? Hello Purgatory.

Anyway, I'm a lot better now.

I also know that some people do fall into the HASHTAGIDGAFYOLO category the author is describing, but I sincerely doubt that (I might be biased about the following statement) someone of our intellect can plummet to such levels of stupid.

Yes, these people are running away, but he doesn't know why or what they are running away from, and it's fucking unjust to make such claims with no evidence to prove them.

Someone once said to me that "lazy" is more often a symptom than the cause itself. They also used a clever analogy: "Diagnosing someone with laziness is the same as diagnosing someone with a cough." You need to look deeper before you can make assumptions.

I was making up "cool" excuses rather than admitting that I am depressed. Internet gives me a thin cloak of anonymity, so I don't mind sharing my thoughts.

[1]: http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

P. S: Sorry if the post is a bit incoherent, but I have a bit of a temper when I see insensitive swines saying bullshit. Sorry for the previous sentence, too. And yes: I might have taken the post a bit too personally because I was hurt by some of the things that were said. Anyway, this was longer than I intended it to be.

So why exactly am I not allowed to down-vote this link bait garbage?

That last sentence didn't turn out quite right...

EDIT: Hollow words from people part of one of the biggest misconceptions on this planet about a stigmatised disease.

Whenever I read an article accusing my generation of selfishness, I can't wait to disprove it by posting comments all about me and my situation.

Thank you for being candid, and really trying to make a difference by posting and writing something meaningful.

This article is a just a huge HN troll.

Great read; inspiring. Alright, now let me see if my hn karma changed while I was reading.

Arbeit macht frei

Terrible, terrible.


get off my lawn!

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