Today I say goodbye to the Ballmer Peak.
I have never handled alcohol well. I've rightly earned a reputation as an overdrinker. Typically, this is a joke among everyone who hasn't had to deal with my bullshit, most especially my wife.
But in software, drinking IS a joke. I've never particularly understood this. I find that software requires a fair amount of my wits to do well. Though, I will say software is aided by a bit of numbness, I tend to see this in the form of low light at night listening to RainyMood.
I've had three major careers in my life: cook, writer and coder. All of these fields have the reputation for heavy drinking. In reality, the only place where I saw it, and where I learned the majority of my bad habits was in cooking. You drink there, because there is fuck all to do after a late night shift, you're hot, you're in pain, you want to blow off steam, because you're poor, you got your ass reamed and it really doesn't matter if you're hungover, because your job actually feels better a little numb.
As a writer, I pretty much completely sabotaged my career by drinking. I worked mainly in copy, but the opportunities I was given by various editors to step up were typically ruined by drinking and quickly doing stories that were badly worded and poorly thought out. I was poor there too, but less so. But hey, writers drink right?
In my late teens, I learned HTML/JS (no CSS back then), C++/C, and PERL all on a POS laptop from my girlfriend's dad. Being a writer sounded sexier, so I gave coding to the cubicle drones. In my late twenties, I was back in the saddle. I found here too that drinking was just as encouraged and supported as cultural as my past two careers. This time, though, I had money.
If you can't tell where I'm going here, allow me to clarify - I think all of this is FUCKING STUPID. To cut around, the anecdotes and get to didactics - there is absolutely ZERO benefit to ascribing drinking as a part of coder culture. Coding is about building, intelligence, innovation, and cleverness. And alcohol benefits none of those things. It's antithetical to the culture entirely.
Software is the culture of late nights of coffee and Coke. Sometimes Mountain Dew. Sacrifice, for the glory of outsmarting the other guys, of creating Cathedrals. It has higher aspirations than the acctrument of success that goes with glorifying alcohol. And that is the only reason that I see this so common in popular depictions of coding. People who code are supposed to be rich now. And rich people drink to excess. Like they don't give a shit. They can afford to be out of it. In reality, coders can't and shouldn't.
Go ahead and drink. Seriously. I'm not being anti-alcohol. But don't ascribe it any power to code. For every crazy Friday with cheers all around, back it with hundreds of cups of coffee and bloodshot eyes.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013