amw (amw) wrote,

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city lights lay out before us

Today coming home from work i noticed that every billboard in the subway station was an ad for Dice. Dice, for fuck's sakes. They already felt irrelevant back in 2001 when i was living near Silicon Valley looking for a tech job. Apparently they hung around long enough to realize that 15 years later in downtown Berlin there are so many tech workers coming into the office every day it'd be worth their while to buy up the entire subway station's advertising space.

Monday morning i already started typing this entry out in my phone, overhearing a conversation of a fellow subway passenger talking about their app, their startup, their whatever. I fucking hate it.

When i was a teenager i read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland and had some kind of dream of how cool it would be to be surrounded by nerds. I watched Hackers, still one of my favorite movies of all time, and being a nerd in a world of nerds seemed like heaven. I followed that dream all the way up to joining one of the hippest Silicon Valley megacorps (or an Australian branch of one at least) in 2006. And, well, it wasn't so hip. But it sure did seem special for a while to be around a bunch of people who were much smarter than me, who all watched sci-fi and played computer games.

My short stint living in Northern California was strange. I badly wanted a job in Silicon Valley, but whenever i visited the actual Silicon Valley i felt a bit uncomfortable and anxious. And last year's trip to San Francisco my whole stomach dropped out, like this world i had dreamed about for so long had turned into an epic den of one-percenter douchenozzlery. Now i hate being around nerds. It's fine at work, i mean, that's my job. But when all that chat about programming languages and venture capital and deployment strategies starts popping up on the subway, at the bar, in a restaurant, i just kind of feel sick.

I know this probably sounds like classic white people's problems. But it's not the gentrification thing. I mean, that's a thing too, and i fully admit i am one of those asshats who likes to be in the first wave of gentrification when a place is safe but still interesting and fuck the second wave who make it overpriced and no longer interesting. But yeah, this isn't a gentrification thing. It's more about something that seemed so magical in theory and then when it becomes the reality you realize working as a software developer is a boring fucking shit job, and being reminded of that every time you walk out the door is depressing because you can't even trick yourself into believing it's something special. Every two-bit douchecanoe with a CompSci degree is pulling in twice the salary of people outside this industry, when all they do is sit behind computers building the same old shit every other idiot is building, all the while thinking they are fucking Picasso or something.

I am so very jaded about this industry after 15 years. Everything the kids think is new or disruptive is just the same old shit with a new coat of paint. People reinvent the wheel over and over and over again, and they get paid ridiculous amounts of money to do it. And the worst of the bunch are the people who have been doing it for as long as i have but still believe they are unique genius snowflakes. And then after you've sat through a 9-10 hour day with that crowd, you hear it all the way home too. Jesus fucking Christ. I almost feel like it'd be better to have the exact same job and live in some wack town in the middle of nowhere. At least then people would have an excuse for getting excited about escaping off to work to exercise their otherwise under-stimulated nerd muscle.

But maybe even being in a small town wouldn't help. We have the internet now. Being a nerd is mainstream. I can unlock my phone or do a google search and feel just as much a hacker as i do plugging away building software. Real science-fiction cyberspace never happened, but the geek revolution is real and it's here and you don't need to know the difference between a register and an opcode to experience it at every waking moment. So i'm a 21st century factory worker, in a 21st century factory town. And life is just as bleak. Except for, you know. I can afford stuff. Is there such a thing as the cycle of mediocrity?

Tags: career

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