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Discussion on: What are our responsibilities as software developers beyond writing code? 🌎💻

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acupoftee profile image
Tee • Edited on

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Developers do have a responsibility to be ethical. I'm so grateful we're leveraging these platforms for positive and productive conversations like this.

Technology augments interests. There's the option to scroll mindlessly (guilty as charged) and there's the option to scroll mindfully. We have access to a multitude of life giving content, from classical music connecting millions around the world like never before, to free ebooks by prolific writers, from courses to satisfy my curiosity, to experiencing parts of the world I yearn to explore thanks to the longevity and reach of the internet.

There are also ways to counteract the false sense of comfort and convenience lulled from instant gratification. We can do this by encouraging disciplined use. For example, Instagram and YouTube are the only social media platforms I use. I don't check notifications until noon, and I only use Instagram for 30 minutes. I also mute Instagram stories as well unless it's from a creator I enjoy. I avoid the "explore" and "recommended" sections to train my brain to seek specific and meaningful content, not passively consume content scavenged from the bowls of the internet. Information is more meaningful when you decide what you want to see instead of an algorithm.

Thankfully, developers are developing tools to curb content consumption! They too understand balance and discipline. The iPhone for example has a built in feature where you can lock an app after a certain amount of screen time. I lock Instagram after 30 minutes, and YouTube after an hour. We can also organize our apps in folders--use this to place a helpful or productive app in the same folder as a distracting one. We also have RSS feeds to curate content we want to see from different sourcrs. I made my own RSS feed in the past for updates on specific topics. I've used Zapier and Feedly in the past. Here's an extension for removing recommended videos from YouTube and an extension for removing the Instagram explorer feed. For a general site blocker, here's an app called Freedom for blocking distracting websites and apps.

Developers also delivered on demand mental health care like never before. Ginger.io offers counseling with trained mental health professionals. Anxiety Helper is a mental health toolkit for teens working through anxiety and depression (made by a teen!). Psychology Today offers an easy way to search for local support groups, therapists, psychiatrists, and treatment centers - just click the drop down menu next to the search bar. Apps like Discord have numerous communities for you to call home. Discord is one of my favorite apps since you can create online communities where you feel right at home. A few great communities are the Healthy Gamer's community created by world-class addictions expert Dr. Alok Kanojia for those struggling with game addiction, and the Mind Café for emotional support for anyone who is 13+.

I'm grateful for the plethora of platforms that exists because of our ingenuity and empathy for humanity. We don't need to give it all up cold turkey. Like you've said, technology maintains a sense of humanity during quarantine. As software developers, it's our responsibility to facilitate convenience, and foster discipline, question features, and offer solutions like the ones featured in this response.

EDIT: Thank you all for bearing the many typos. This response was written on my iPhone during a walk. 😁

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kateh profile image
Kate (she/her) Author

Hi Elisabeth! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and providing this perspective. Sometimes, I focus too much on the negatives and feel pessimistic about the future, but it's so much more productive to talk about what we can do, and what is under our control (which is a lot of things). As you bring up, there's a lot of good things that have come out of tech. It's important to remember that not everything is black and white and nothing will ever be "perfect". What's important is to keep having these conversations, continue learning from our mistake and improving.

I really really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you so much <3

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acupoftee profile image
Tee

Thank you for the response!

Sometimes, I focus too much on the negatives and feel pessimistic about the future, but it's so much more productive to talk about what we can do, and what is under our control (which is a lot of things).

I fully empathize. It took a concerted effort for me to adopt a progress oriented mindset called meliorism. I've had similar polarizing sentiments about the industry vs freelancing vs homemaking. Part of the reason why I'm intrigued by this discussion was because I found it whilst lamenting the state of the world.

As solution oriented people, we have more power to ameliorate so much more than we realize--our now is not for forever. Thankfully there are a critical mass of developers who are optimistic, and want to make a change. Thank you again for starting the conversation ❤️