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How does being a programmer affects your world view?

vtrpldn profile image Vitor Paladini ・1 min read

We deal with complex systems on a regular basis and companies literally pay us to solve problems.

Sometimes I find myself trying to optimize some aspects of my personal life and it makes me wonder if being a programmer sorta leaks into everything we do.

I'm curious about the community's thoughts on that, what do you think?


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I just listen to my friends or families’ stories about all the repetitive things they have to do at work (copying things from a word doc to a spreadsheet, or sending documents for approval and then back again before attaching a pic of the signature manually, or needing to save files in 3 different locations etc) and just start thinking about all the ways I could automate that and wonder why the hell it isn’t automated to begin with.


I've learned an invaluable lesson in my life: just because I can doesn't mean that I should. Technology is great! As you said it can make many things sooo much more efficient. Conversely, though, some things should be left well enough alone. In some cases, speed would enhance life. In others, it would be the detriment or the start of it to that situation (an oven vs a microwave). It's up to us to have the wisdom, foresight, and compassion to know when, how, and to what extent do we apply technological advances.


I have a robot vacuum, but I'm a bit skeptical about the robot lawn mowers!

lol. I think I would be too. If something goes wrong with the vacuum you can likely contain and maybe even easily mitigate the damage. A lawnmower is an ENITRELY different beast. In the right circumstances, that could even result in a lawsuit. lol


Yeah, my wife is a government worker and I have similar stories. It's interesting (if not a bit scary) to think about how much work can already be automated and the social consequences of doing so.

We still have elevator operators where I live. It feels inhumane for someone to be trapped into a metal box, pushing buttons 8 hours a day to make a living but, at the end of the day, they probably don't have much better alternatives around here :(


What do you think about UBI (Universal Base Income) then? I like the alternative that was suggested by Naval Ravinkat on Joe Rogan podacst. Is to have have Base Services instead of UBI. Because, you know, some people just can't spend their money right.

I'm not familiar with Base Services, would that be something like the nordic model? I'm not well versed in the macroeconomic aspect of it but I really like the idea of a Universal Basic Income and I'm excited with recent studies about its effectiveness.

UBI will, I think, definitely work with people who already have some "money skills". Now let's the low part of the society. Junkies and alcoholics, what do they do with money? I think people like that should receive base services (food, grooming, etc.).

That makes sense, redirecting some part of the UBI money into some kind of recovery program for vulnerable people sounds like a better idea.


It feels inhumane for someone to be trapped into a metal box, pushing buttons 8 hours a day to make a living

I mean, replace metal box with cubicle and you've literally just described being a software developer at a lot of large companies...


Or , maybe there are alternatives, but they benefit from the intangibles (like meeting and conversing with people) the job provides. An elevator operator can unwittingly become your therapist. lol

I think you just gave me an idea for a short story, haha


Basic economics probably, finding and paying a programmer to automate the 1000s of small tasks in a normal office is more expensive than paying a large number of people to perform them manually (or training some of them to automate their own jobs). This will probably change overtime with tools like Zapier and other workflow automation tools becoming more common.

You might be surprised how often this is a consideration at companies that are doing things like building SaaS products i.e. even companies that sell software might do things manually because programmers are so scarce.


I think you are me


We as programmers tend to be highly pragmatic due to our daily grind. Do it for 30 years and logic becomes black or white. This means we have to work hard to handle the gray stuff. Interpersonal relationships have lots of gray, we simply have to be more patient in that arena. Lastly we have to guard against arrogance because there's plenty of things we fail to do.


I agree with what you said but I believe that there is more nuance there. I see a lot of gray area on my daily grind, how to craft a proper abstraction is a major example of it, or how to change the implementation of a feature to better match a new use case.

Lastly we have to guard against arrogance because there's plenty of things we fail to do.

Loved this sentence, I agree that no matter who you are and how many years of experience you have you should always stay humble and remember that you're good in one thing and that doesn't make you a genius.


lol. Yesterday I had to catch myself as I thought of myself trying to explain something and I wanted to explain it in terms of Boolean values.

But, to answer your question, I think it could be the other way around. Being logical critical thinkers who either innovate or improve ways of working smarter and not harder probably lends to our passion for programming. In programming we have found both a logical and creative outlet for our ingenuity.


That makes a lot of sense. Maybe it works two ways, maybe a certain type of person is attracted to a certain kind of job that, after a few years, kinda reshapes the personality and world view of that person. I don't know, I don't want to sound like I'm 100% sure of what I'm talking about haha


I don't know how to express that without sounding like an a**, but I do believe that programming has an effect on general logic and therefore leads to fairness which again tends to bring out a more ethical worldview. Additionally, I feel it provides somewhat of a protection against unfounded claims. So in a certain sense, I would go as far as to say coding has made me less prone to what we used to call propaganda and what we now either call fake news or public relations.


Maybe dealing with so much logic and causation every day makes us more pragmatic? I think that is a nice thing, but maybe there's also a drawback to that that we are unable to see. 🤔


Always a possibility, isn't it?


I am not sure if this is the right question. I think there is a correlation between the type of person we are and the coding stuff. I think coding is not the reason we see things in the real world different then others. I think coding is just something we like because we see the world a little bit different. But maybe i am wrong.

Because you asked:
Since i am coding, my life changed a lot. There are so many points i could tell.
At first i changed my lifestyle to become a Vegan. I really would say this is because of the way i think to solve problems.
Then there is the Snowden thing... especially as coders we know how stuff works and what possibly go wrong... we see how social media effects the people and we see that the people become the products.

In fact i don't feel connected to non coders. And on family party's i cant find a good connection to the others... It is hard for me to accept but i think they live in a different world than me. And like i don't understand them, they don't understand me - but that's okay


I agree, it's about cause and effect ... programming tends to attract a certain kind of personality (nerdy? geeky? rational? analytic? you name it) who tend to have a certain kind of world view, not the other way around (in terms of cause and effect).

So I think (although I have no proof for it) that it's already baked into the person, so mainly a personality trait rather than an outgrowth of our profession.

On the other hand I don't strongly relate to what you say about not feeling connected to non-coders ... for me the sense of 'community' or "these are my kind of people" is very, very limited - I just do my own thing and don't give much thought about others who happen to do more or less the same thing.

However I do feel affinity to people with a science or technology background, folks who love facts and analysis - I think that definitely colors my world view, a good example being my view on the current COVID-19 pandemic.

(but on the other hand over the years I've become more sceptical that any problem mankind copes with can be solved with science or technology - inevitably it's also about political and societal choices that we make - but I do think that those choices need to be based in rational analysis)


This is the best way to explain what i wanted to say!:D Totally agree!:)


It Doesn't Change That Much, I Think It's Just Little Bit Funnier Than It Was Before.

I Mean I'm New To Programming But I've Already Learned A Lot In A Very Short Period Of Time Just By Approaching Anything Based On Our Everyday's Life To Me It's Liike Just Be Yourself And Stay Happy💖


That's nice and I agree, Nuruddeen! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work 😄


Since I started developing games, playing video games feels very different. I find myself trying to dissect how a certain game mechanism might be coded instead of just enjoying the games. I had to learn how to turn it off again to relax.


Haha, yes! A "how did they do that???" is very common for me as well 😄


I discovered coding passion very late on my life.

I discovered how I learned more efficiently, in my case. FAILING.

And I started learn new things losing my fear on failure.

I discovered a new hobby. Roller skating, and I fail (and fall) a lot.

And I enjoy, so so much.

I used to stop doing things because I thought I will never learn, now I usually say...

Well, I'll fail first one thousand times, and let's see later


Since I've learned to program it gave a special vision just like superheroes gain in movies! But it gave me some trouble as well like the counting OCD (or Arithmomania). Coding made my brain function in a different way, sometimes it is pleasant but sometimes it irritates me so bad and I can do nothing about it. My whole brain is full of codes. If someone had this problem and solved it please help me. :)


Haha, excellent question, one I'd answer differently after ~25 years writing lines of code (than I would have had 10 or 20 years ago).
I came to programming in part owing to a very inductive / self driven approach to doing things. Where programming lets you engage concretely, as opposed to say, putting people in motion towards a goal (aka management). Yea sure that is not the whole story (or I might be a potter, or a cook, also very direct).
Guess what? Managing and connecting is often the faster, better way to get things done; Henry IV will agree. Another thing: the myth of reuse. The whole computing thing changes fast enough that, reuse often is not in the code - even languages do have a shelf life.
Took me perhaps a couple of decades to get out of the life optimizing mood. Enhancing life through programming... well it's not for me now. I find more enlightenment in mind practices vs mechanizing our relationship with the world.
Overall a day without coding is not a good day for me. But I also think more about, okay. What is this piece of code doing? Good code is about removing. Removing hassle. Removing unused APIs. Removing worries. The best is stable code that liberates us from... machines and a taylorized life style. Closing, let's pick a counter-example: automated recommendations. That is terrible code. It is removing choice, narrowing perspective, mechanizing preference. Not the programmer's fault, mind.


Loved your take, Tea. I relate to a lot of what you said, this one is my favorite bit:

Good code is about removing. Removing hassle. Removing unused APIs. Removing worries. The best is stable code that liberates us from... machines and a taylorized life style.

Having had some experience with management, I agree that nothing in tech is faster than a capable and motivated group of people.


I can't look at websites without thinking "how did they make this, how is it so fast?"


That's me with all these fancy 3D/VR websites, my CSS-wired brain cannot comprehend.


I think it goes both ways. Since I was a kid I always loved Legos, K'Nex, and making practical things like a home-made adjustable standing desk. Programming just felt like a natural extension of those hobby projects.

Working in software full time has taught me that I can solve nearly any problem so long as the time and effort to learn a new skill is cheaper than the cost of having someone else do it. I've attempted some terrifying car and home repairs on my own to save some money and try to learn some new skills. Being a professional problem solver has been incredibly valuable.


I Want To Change My Views About This, It's Like A Hell In Our Community I Really Need Someone That Can Cheer Me Up.

My Community Hates You For No Reason I Miss My Game's Life😂That Time I Don't Care About Nothing Just Free Mind.


I tend to try and solve life problems the same way I solve programming problems. Like, when I need to plan a schedule, I find myself making ANSI flowcharts.


Flowcharts are great! Sometimes I use needlessly complicated programming tools for more mundane tasks. Whenever I need to edit a piece of text that is slightly complex I do it in VS Code due to my familiarity with the keyboard shortcuts


I look at it in two ways
1) A pattern, how people behave, act & respond to a person. And how they repeat the same to another who's in a similar situation as the first one. It may not be a Design Pattern but it's probably psychological/behavioral pattern.

2) The other way is about the efficiency. I think of "How well we can live, if we can plan our day like we plan our work?". It would greatly improve how we can lead our lives.
Don't mistake me that we should plan everything in our life which is not even closely possible. I mean to say that we can plan our life at least to the parts which we know of.
Ex: when we want to cook a special dish, list out all ingredients, keep the proportions in your mind, the steps & then rock your meal. This is what my mom does day in and day out. She plans it wonderfully. She doesn't think it as if she's planning it though.
If we can be so thoughtful about all the parts of our life which we can control, then life would be amazing.


1) A pattern, how people behave, act & respond to a person. And how they repeat the same to another who's in a similar situation as the first one. It may not be a Design Pattern but it's probably psychological/behavioral pattern.

Interesting point. Human beings are natural pattern seekers and I relate to that.

It's funny how you used a cooking example on your point about efficiency. I love cooking and I'm crazy about optimizing it.


I cant stop optimizing code and workflows. Imagine my world view with all those chaotic governments with the worst workflows of all and way to much bureaucracy.


I personally get frustrated with others when they complain about bugs/issues/problems on websites and get mad at the people behind the site. Learning to not take it so personally. That aside I find my science degree influences my world view far more than my coding does. Perhaps I code because of my science mind, it is a very different way to see the world. Analysing things, figuring out how things work, poking and prodding stuff continuously.


I totally agree with you. The ability to logically write out code helps me to solve most problems that I face in my day to day life.


Steve Jobs reflected on this as well 💯


Agreed that everyone should learn a bit of programming, especially in this hyper-technological society that we live in.


I believe there's a solution to everything now.


I cringe when I hear my friends talk about the excel spreadsheets they use for work looking at all those cells makes my head spin. I prefer a database but to each their own. :)