There’s a scene from Silicon Valley in season 1 where the character Bighead comments how he just wanted to be an engineer to work on cool things rather than compete for shares against his best friend. It’s a resonating thing for someone like myself who has spent 19 years in this industry. Like Bighead, I just wanted to build cool things. Yet I’m still waiting.
The real truth about the tech industry is that only certain people get to work on cool things. Once you’re hired as a developer (I dare not say engineer because that would be insulting to true engineers), you’re relegated to being a code monkey for people who most often do not know what the fuck you do. There’s little respect and a lot of passive-aggressive behavior that prevents you from ever doing anything significant and meaningful.
Instead, you fix bugs or are slotted with the worst projects. The slyest people end up figuring out how to take over the best projects, leaving you to clean up their scraps. And when you try to make headroom on their territory, someone comes down on you, regardless of your intention to make things better for everyone.
It truly is a frustrating experience.
Yes a good deal of this partially is imposed by those who really don’t belong in this industry. Many non-technical field have infiltrated this field and somehow managed to get enough of a foot in the door to claim their place. As a result, our lives worsen.
The thing is that software engineers need to band up and reclaim the realm of software engineering. Most are sated by given enough money to purchase the material things that solve the transient void in their desolate lives. But that doesn’t necessarily improve the overall state of the industry.
Many unethical decisions are made that we are left to implement. We see that the wrong decisions are made and even after arguing, end up being forced to resolve them. Hence, why a company like Facebook faces scrutiny over privacy or how a company like Amazon or Google becomes unquestioningly dominant.
There’s only two ways to resolve this issue. One is for us to bandy together and force out the morons that make the decisions we are forced to execute while biting our tongues. Or we unionize.
I know there are those who feel unionizing will make the tech industry worse. Will it though? Or will it just put necessary bureaucracy and help ensure us that are jobs are secured and we’re not put into precarious positions.
I know right now with the country, many students and teachers even are walking out as a protest against gun lobbyists who want to allow teachers to be armed. We should look up to these students and teachers as an example of not bending down against the totalitarian dictatorship that has regressed tech back into high school days of bullying. Effectively, the MBAs, sales people, marketing and to a degree these days, product/project are the jocks and cliques that would push us into lockers or corners where they’d take our lunch money.
It’s sad that we stand for this.
I don’t though.
I think engineers need to push back on these groups (and venture capitalists) for the working conditions we’re put into. It seems as the years pass by, things just worsen. Sure, we get a new language and framework every few months, but so what? What does that really solve? It just solves one group’s ego and legal battles over another (I’m looking at you Kotlin/Oracle/Google/Java)
In the end, this industry shouldn’t be punishing like this. We have adapted the fratboy practices of hazing by creating ritualistic hiring hazing practices that are unnecessary. We put lowly people into positions of subordination because we know our lives aren’t better. How can we go from what ought to be an enlightened, rational mindset to following the practices of these people?
It’s really a sad state of affairs but until we get back control, we’ll continue to live in this horrible existence.