I think this whole "fool around or be a better X" is a false dichotomy, because "fooling around" is entirely subjective.
I do a fair bit of gaming. It's obvious Patricio would consider that "fooling around," but do you know what? That "fooling around" very often results in a lot of creative activities and even some code-writing. I can very often pull back the proverbial curtain of the game and "see" into the mechanics of the game (both in the general game mechanics sense and in the literal technological sense). I essentially mentally reverse engineer parts of the game I'm playing to see how it ticks (I've freaked out more than a few fellow players when I've done something most people don't know works). When I run into problems or quality of life issues with a game, I might write a mod/addon for it (there's the code writing).
What's the purpose of writing code? What's the purpose of being a programmer?
To me, the answer to both is "to solve problems." I'm a problem solver, first and foremost. I just happen to use code to solve many of those problems. Writing code every waking hour just for the sake of writing code (ie - "because you should be writing code all the time!") doesn't, in my opinion, actually accomplish much. Sure, you might get better at writing code (and there's certainly a time and place for coding for its own sake -- especially when learning a new language), but are you actually solving problems? Maybe, maybe not. For me, at least, "fooling around" leads to unearthing problem solving opportunities that I can then write code for (if that's what the solution calls for).
Hey, Shauna thanks for answering back, let me first say that I don't consider gaming fooling around, I myself played video games since I was a kid and although I haven't owned a gaming rig for the last 3 years I am still waiting for the moment when I can build one back(moving from country to country doesn't play very well with this). I totally agree that gaming can be a gate to relaxation and can produce some solving problem ideas, actually, my first pieces of code were game hacks for a very old RPG haha.
What I meant was that time is precious and in my opinion, it should be focused. If you play videogames because you made the conscious and rational decision of relaxing and play some games that is totally fine by me. If, on the other hand, someone spends a lot of time playing games just to do "nothing" (and I use to be that way), I think there could be much better ways to use that time, and that doesn't have to be coding, it can be anything as long as you decide to do it and make the most of it.
I don't quite agree though that you should only make code if you find a problem to solve, sure our main line of work is to solve issues, but there is much more into software than that. Just as an example, for the last few months I have been reading about Category Theory, I have 0 requirements to do so, there is no real problem right now I can solve with Category Theory, I just do it because I think it is fun, I like to see how my knowledge of software development is gonna be transformed because of it. So instead of playing games, I am reading books from weird mathematicians. I don't think one is better than the other, for me games and programming are two different ways to have fun (although I also get paid to do one).
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