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What is it?

What is wrong with computer geeks?

Why is it that a group of people so necessarily intelligent and logical (because you do HAVE to be a logical person on some level to produce code) can be reduced to the level of a kindergarten full of angry, reclusive, stubborn six-year-old baboons the second it comes time to form and maintain a coherent social structure? And I very much include myself in this pack of monkeys, much of the time. Has anyone ever done a psychological study of programmers to figure out what is wrong with us?

The Linux world is like some kind of gross microcosm of the worst parts of the real world, with religions replaced by programming languages and text editors and distro choices, with many of the same kinds of prejudices and irrational, emotional, dogmatic beliefs that you'd find in any religion. We have organizations of people who are ALL geeks, who ALL love computers and good programs, ALL working toward the same goal, go through great schisms over entirely philosophical differences. We have people held up as saints and saviors and people demonized and excommunicated. We have what amount to small distinct groups of citizens in message boards and mailing lists who identify themselves by the programs they use like it's their nationality. We have pseudo-government structures running distros, passing and enforcing laws and rules of ethics, and in Gentoo right now according to many people we apparently have class struggle with perceived peasants ready to revolt against perceived aristocracy. Thank God there's no way to fire a gun on the internet or people would probably be mobilizing armies as we speak.

All of this over a bunch of programs on a bunch of computers. All of this crap existing only in our minds. In one way I'm fascinated and in another way horrified. I know most people probably don't really care THAT much (I hope not!), and I'm exaggerating to make a point, but we ACT like this, or act in ways that this kind of overall picture emerges.

And yet I still somehow usually enjoy being a part of all this. I don't understand us.

January 24, 2008 @ 7:45 PM PST
Cateogory: Linux
Tags: Religion, Rant

3 Comments

Patrick
Quoth Patrick on January 24, 2008 @ 8:49 PM PST

I think that this "microcosm" actually has a big influence on our 'real' cosmos, and wouldn't call it "microcosm" because of that. But "kindergarten" fits perfectly ;)

Imagine all those children wouldn't be so insisting and stubborn - they'd probably all use what they get with the milk (Microsoft being the tit ;) - I wouldn't want to live in THAT world anymore.

But then again, perhaps I should investigate why I wouldn't want to live in that world anymore ;)

numerodix
Quoth numerodix on January 24, 2008 @ 10:44 PM PST

Uhm, it's because it reflects who we really are. People are like this, just like you described, and the fact that someone is smart does not preclude this kind of behavior, because it's not really about being smart or not, it's about selfishness mostly. When you insist on your opinion being the only right answer and refuse to accept other points of view, that's really just selfish and it takes a willingness to respect other people to counter this force. How do you talk people out of being selfish? You tell them that they should think about the whole community, and that by working together we can make things happen. If there's no willingness to well frankly, sacrifice, then you're stuck with the kind of situation we have.

Furthermore, the urge to cling to an editor or whatever and make it a religion is some kind of basic instinct we have. That's my theory on it. Because if you get some perspective on it, it's obvious how silly it is to have these religious struggles. But all the same, we sort of feel good about "belonging" to a group, despite how silly it may be.

armitage
Quoth armitage on January 26, 2008 @ 3:52 AM PST

vi for life!!!!111