An Open Letters to Programmers who think they are better than everyone else in their company

One reason I don’t (often) visit forums for coders: The sense of entitlement and arrogance. Programmers ask in all seriousness: Why are managers paid more than us, when we clearly do the harder work? Why do we need salesmen/marketing, when we write such great code that should just sell itself? Why aren’t programmers the CEOs, since we are clearly so smart?

Let me get one thing clear right now: No one cares about you. So you know how to program? Big deal. You can write your own compiler and operating system? Boohoo. No one cares. Even your mother doesn’t care. If you don’t believe me, call your mother right now, and tell her you wrote your own super fast compiler. Her reply will be, “I don’t care. Get a life.”

The reason I wrote this post is because programmers have this enlarged sense of their own worth. I am a programmer, and I know coding is hard. But so is accounting, policing, making a movie, writing a great book, fighting fire, running a train, to name a few. So why do programmers feel they are special? And why the contempt for non-programmers?

It’s the fault of….

What I see in many forums is a case of blame game. Everything wrong in the world was the fault of:

Managers: Every manager is a stupid Dilbert like dolt, who just doesn’t get us. It’s clear the manager was only promoted because of their hairstyle.

Bosses are stupid, and only exist to slow us down by giving us these unreasonable requests from something called customers (that we have never seen, and may not even exist).

Users: Users are idiots. Why can’t they just read the 400 page manual we wrote for them? There is even a word for it: RTFM, Read the Fucking Manual. We wrote this confusing mess of a program, but if you can’t use it, it’s your fault because you didn’t read our manual.

Before Stackoverflow came along, if you went to any forum and asked for a solution, you were asked to Fucking Google it. Which was funny, as most people reached that forum via Google in the first place. Even on Stackoverflow, a few questions have answers, which have received hundreds of upvotes, saying bascially “Google it” or RTFM.

Non-programmers: In the programmers world, every non-coder is an idiot, who only exists to make the coder’s life difficult. All you want to do is write beautiful code, and these idiots keep coming up with business requirements. We don’t care about business, we are artists. Can’t you see?

The most hate was reserved for non-programmers who made the mistake of trying to write their own code, Boy, we really let rip on them. How dare these worker class try to compete with us? We are the elite, goddamn it!

An enlarged sense of entitlement

Why do programmers have such an sense of entitlement? All this contempt for managers / non-programmers comes from a sense of superiority, which itself comes from a sense of inferiority. Most programmers are shy and awkward, and feel inferior to all the cool kids in school. They try to cover this up by creating their own community, and acting very aggressively to anyone who is not a member of the club. What they don’t realise is, this makes them look very childish and immature.

If you want to succeed in life, you have to learn to work with managers, sales people and other non-programmers. That’s how the world works. Deal with it.

You are only worth what you give to society

Let me tell you something your teachers / parents never told you: You are not a special snowflake. No one cares about you. So you can write a compiler in Lisp? No one cares. You can build a computer using nothing but a piece of wood and a copper wire? No one cares. You can build a nuclear reactor using toilet paper and pasta? No one cares.

Society, as a simple rule, does not give a crap about you. All society cares about is: How useful you are to the tribe. How are you helping your fellow humans grow? Are you fulfilling their needs? Are you giving them what they need?

A simple crappy program written in Ms Excel that solves someones problem is more valuable than your cool hand written compiler. This is what really pisses programmers off: Some badly written program sells for millions, while their masterpiece gets no love. The reason is that the tribe, our society, only cares about what you can do for it. The tribe doesn’t care about you at all. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will be happier.

Time to grow up

There comes a time when you realise you have to grow up. And adult can’t throw tantrums or go around blaming others. At some point, you just have to take responsibility for your actions. You have to accept the world is not black and white, cut and dried, and you will have to make a lot of compromises. So stop complaining, stop being the angry nerd.

If you want to move on in life, try doing something productive instead. Build something beautiful. Rather than complaining how everything sucks, how customers/managers make your life difficult, build something exceedingly beautiful, so you can say, “This is how it’s done.”

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