Stuff like this saddens me:
Apparently if you can read some sloppy, malformed pseudo-code thrown together by an idiot marketroid with no knowledge of programming you must be a total loser.This advertisement is yet another example in a very common trend of equating programming skill with social ineptitude. Unfortunately most people fail to notice the subversive nature of the advert. I’ve seen this re-posted on programming blogs and the like. Just you look at that image though. Who is this ad targeted at? Programmers? I think not.
If it was aimed at software engineers, then they would at least make it resemble a syntax of a real existing language. Also, it would be incomprehensible to regular people. Programming jokes are less funny if they do not include a layer of abstraction which makes them incomprehensible to the intellectually deficient majority. And yes, they are deficient – studies have shown that certain percentage of our species is simply not wired for handling high level of abstract thinking that is required for programming. They are simply worse than us – genetically impaired, but it’s not their fault, so we should not hold it against them. But I digress.
Anyone can read that add, there is no question about it. It was designed to be readable rather than cryptic. So it is really targeted at the mainstream population who can easily make out what the code says but they do not consider themselves to be the butt of the joke. Since they don’t write software for living (and definitely not for fun) they can pat themselves on the back for figuring it out and then have a chuckle at the silly socially undesirable nerds who write this sort of stuff on a daily basis. It exploits existing negative stigma that surrounds our profession.
Somehow our society came to a conclusion that mastering a difficult skill such as programming, and using it to make a living is wrong. It makes you a loser, and outcast and social reject. (Unless of course you don’t enjoy it, but that just makes you a horrible programmer. If you are writing code without being passionate about it, if you do not read technical blogs, or do any hacking on your free time then you need to get the fuck out of our field. You are the horrible cancer that is killing good software projects, and you need to die a horrible painful death! Seriously, if you don’t like programming, GTFO – we will both be better off!) Apparently all programmers have no lives, look like characters from Revenge of the Nerds and can barely function in the society without help of their cooler friends or co-workers. At least that’s how we are represented in the media. You hardly ever see successful, well adjusted and normal looking people from out field on TV. All computer experts of significance are gross caricatures, that are the butt of nerd jokes.
But it’s not just the media. This anti-programmer sentiment is prevalent in our society and I personally encountered it IRL. I used to know a guy whose girlfriend would get visibly flustered when we would start to “talk shop”. She would start to roll her eyes, sigh loudly and if it went for to long she would butt in and try to “shame us” into ending the conversation by calling us geeks, losers and etc. She could not stand the thought that her boyfriend could be interested in something so socially reprehensible as programming and technology in general.
How the hell did we get to this point? Why do we allow this social stigma to continue? I mean, in most cases we are smarter, more educated than the people who perpetuate these stereotypes. We have real college degrees (BS, MS often a PHD) rather than the fake diplomas given out by business schools. Not only that, but we create and control the technology they depend on. We maintain their machines, and facilitate their communication. Without us, they would have no Facebook, no iPhone and no Youtube. And yet, somehow we are considered inferior and undesirable.
Seriously, who is more of a valuable member of society? Someone who develops innovative free software on their free time? Or someone who spends all their free time watching reality TV, can’t figure out how to set time on their VCR, owns a computer which is part of at least 3 different botnets? Apparently the former is a freak that needs to be shunned, while the later is an upstanding pillar of society. WTF?
You may say that these stereotypes are silly, and that we shouldn’t even bother. I usually don’t get offended at that type of stuff. I mean, I’m Polish so I do get to hear a good deal of really bad Polish jokes here and there. Then again, most people think twice before they tell an ethnic joke. Making fun of IT and Software people is in a different category though – it is acceptable. But maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should start getting offended – or at least pretend we are, until people figure out it’s probably not cool to make stupid jokes about computer geeks.