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To Fix the World

This is going to be one of those posts that I’m going to look back on, and think “that was a pretty good post”.  And then I’m going to regret it utterly.

Today, I had a bad experience at work.  My team has just been merged with another team, and both of our different teams have different skills to add to the mix.  One of the people on the “other” team we’ve been merged with was giving a code review, and I gave a lot of helpful suggestions.  Or I think they were helpful.  The person giving the review was getting a bit defensive, I guess, and I got a gentle talking to after, the long and short being “you weren’t wrong, but space that out a bit.”

Okay, fine.  Whatever.  I got a bit defensive as well, ate a sandwich, and got over it.

But at that moment I realized something about myself I’d never realized before.

There is a problem with many people in my profession – a computer engineer or developer.  They have an ego.  I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve read, or even from personal interaction, of people who think they’re better at coding than everyone else and get insulting about it.  They might say things like “that code sucks!”, or “I could do that better,” or “you have no business coding at all!”.  These kinds of people may even be competent, but they’re impossible to work with.  I used to be like that, a long time ago, when I was more junior in my job.  I looked down on other peoples’ code.

But I’m not like that anymore.

When I’m reviewing code and giving suggestions for maybe making it better, there is absolutely no personal rancor in it at all.  I don’t think that the person was a terrible person or coder.  I just see something that needs improving, and I want to fix it.  So I’ll say things like “have you considered this?” or “have you considered that?”.  Sometimes people take it as an ego-based attack, but it never, ever is – not anymore.  I’m just trying to take something that’s not as good as it could be and make it better.  That’s all I really want – for it to be better.

And in a flash, I realized that this is kind of how I am with life in general.  I see all of the things that aren’t optimal, that could and should be improved, and I just want to make them better.

If I had to give a reason for the frustration and depression I feel in life, it may well be that this is the reason.

I’m frustrated because I see it so clearly.  Here’s what’s wrong with things.  Of course, there’s some things I’m not quite so certain about, but there are some things that I’m pretty certain about.  If people would listen to me on those things, the world would be better.  Full stop.  For example, I have a few “social justice” posts on this site where I speak pretty strongly against a lot of the ignorance that people seem to be exhibiting on a daily basis.  I don’t make these posts out of rancor, I make these posts because I can’t stand to see how broken things are, and I want to fix it, and I can’t understand why other people have no interest in actually fixing the problems.  Oh, sure, some people think they are, but it’s pretty clear they’re just making it worse, by doing exactly the opposite of what I’d advise, and still, they just persist on their broken course.

When I was a child, we had some neighbors, named Al and Loretta.  They were an older couple who lived next door to us, and kept mostly to themselves.  Al liked to tinker around in his shed at the back of his backyard.  Next door there was a cat-lady named Tessy.  Her house was rancid and horrible, with rats, cats allowed to poop everywhere, she was just a terrible neighbor.  She was old, and probably just couldn’t handle living on her own anymore.

One day the city came and tore the house down.  While they were doing that, I, being somewhere around 5 or 6 years old, went outside and tried to help with refreshments for the firemen, etc., who were supervising the demolition.  Loretta snapped at me, hard.  I was confused, and I think started crying, as a 5 or 6 year old would do when being snapped at by an old lady.  She explained to my mother that she hates kids, that hers was an accident (lovely), and while she apologized, I never trusted them again.  Eventually they moved to Florida or something.  But that is what the world does to people who want to help, to make things better.  It’s never appreciated, never wanted, never welcome.  People get defensive, or take it as an attack, or think the worst of your motivations.

And then there are the things that you can’t fix at all.  I hate entropy.  I hate it with a passion.  I hate entropy, and death, and age, and everything that comes with it, and I don’t understand at all how anyone can possibly be ok with this.  I don’t get it.  It’s a completely foreign concept to me.  I want to fix it, and I can’t.  I can’t even make a dent in it, I can’t make it even the slightest bit better. no matter what I do to slow it everything is still going to die.  I feel that, stronger than anything else.  I want to make things better, I want to fix things, I want to solve the problem, but there’s no solution.  I am frustrated and depressed because for the problems I know how to solve, no one cares, and for the problems I don’t know how to solve, I’m trapped in this hostage situation we call life.

The thing that I need to do on this earth more than anything else, I am completely and utterly incapable of doing in any way whatsoever.  Not just any meaningful way, but in any way.  And in all of the lesser ways, no one listens to me enough for me to make a difference.  About all I can do is try to live my life in as productive a way as possible, and let the world die, as it’s going to anyway.

But God, this hurts.  I can’t describe how much it actually hurts.  No one seems to understand this, I don’t have words for it.  Everything’s dying, everything’s dead, and there’s shit-all we can do about it.  Why do people think this is acceptable?

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