Reading 00: It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

A “True Hacker” is someone who lives and breaths programming. They eat, sleep, and breath programming. At one point in the book a true hacker is described as someone who can ignore such minor conveniences as sleep. A true hacker is someone who does not have time for anything aside from programming, everything else is a distraction. To me this seems to be an extremely dangerous mindset. The idea that there should be thirty hour days, “days” (in quotations because it is more than an actual day) where a true programmer would code for the entire time and ignore everything else. To not get the proper amount of sleep has been shown to be very unhealthy both for the physical body as well as for a person’s mind. Personally I can not imagine there being anything that I would enjoy doing so much that I would ignore all other facets of my life in order to pursue. I believe in the idea of living a balanced life. This extends beyond just a good work life balance, though that is a part of it. I feel a well balanced life, while different for everyone, would include time spent socializing and time spend relaxing and time spent working. There should also be time to take care of yourself, whether that be eating or washing yourself or sleeping, we are not machines and we require rest. I believe that a person would get worn down extremely quickly if they spent no time taking care of themselves and relaxing. I also feel that to encourage this behavior through peer pressure, by calling everyone who was not a “true hacker” a loser, is also an extremely unhealthy environment.

As I said earlier I believe everyone’s balance is different. Some people need more time to themselves each day, while others are more social. In a similar way, some people can work for hours and hours while maintaining the same level of productiveness, while others are more like sprinters and have a periods of extreme productiveness with time when they are much less productive worked in. All of this depends on the individual, thus for someone to tell another, “if you aren’t spending all your waking time trying to program or make new things you’re a loser,” is both unfair and unhealthy. Everyone is different. Take Margaret Hamilton for example. She would never have been accepted by the “true hackers” for a number of reasons. She had a family that she cared for, she had a life outside of programming, etc. Yet her schedule and practice worked for her and she became the lead of the team that wrote the computer programs that put humans on the moon. No one could ever say that Margaret Hamilton was unsuccessful in her life, however, because she was not a “true hacker” the group at MIT would have looked down on her.

I realize how hypocritical it may sound that I begin this post by saying that I think the lifestyle of a “true hacker” is extremely unhealthy, then proceed to say that everyone should find their own limits and not try to tell others theirs. My point is that I believe for me and for most people the life of a “true hacker” is not only a poor goal, it is also an unhealthy lifestyle choice. The lifestyle may work for some but even then, I feel that these people may be missing important parts of life by trying to achieve some unreachable and really unnecessary pedestal of the “true hacker.”