Being a Curmudgeon

Not even 30 yet, I’m an inveterate curmudgeon. I have been for many years. Case in point: Superhappydevhouse, a neat little party wherein a bunch of coder dorks come together and code and drink and for which I’ll be in town. It’s a chance to network and mingle with other coders, to share ideas, etc. If I were younger and unattached and idealistic, maybe I’d enjoy this. But the fact of the matter is that I’m actually sort of old for the industry, I do have family obligations (and I enjoy my family, so “obligations” isn’t really the right word), and I’m not idealistic. I enjoy doing much of the work I do, but it’s still work. I want generally to do it for eight or ten hours a day and then to do family stuff and read and sit on my ass.

Of course, I’m away from my family for the week, so all I can really do is sit on my ass and read. And that’s not nearly as much fun outside the comfort of one’s own home. So I should go to this superhappydevhouse. I doubt I will, though. Another problem is that I’m sort of a fish out of water here, in part because I’m not so invested in changing the world by writing programs that I find things like superhappydevhouses particularly super or happy and in part because I don’t speak the language.

What I mean when I say that I don’t speak that language is that, while I know a good bit about the Web and about some bits of programming, I’ve never been so into it that I’d go out of my way to talk about any of it in a social setting. Generally speaking, I’m happy to perform my couple of daily programming tasks and then move on to the other things that concern me without casting a backward glance at the computer (except where the computer actually helps me to do my other tasks). What I find of the people I’m surrounded by out here in Silicon Valley for the week is that they’re obsessed with technology. They have the fancy cell phones that have features the cellular networks here in America don’t even support yet. They speak in acronyms and exchange knowing grins when they talk about the various inside jokes of the industry out here, and they’re all absurdly well-connected. They all seem to be prodigies. I can’t really connect with these people, though at times I wish I could. I don’t care about some of the latest technologies, and a lot of the acronyms fly right by me. I don’t know the industry pillars, and in fact I’m in awe of them. I feel often like an amateur astronomer having a chance to meet Einstein, except that I don’t care as much about what I do as an amateur astronomer does about what he does. It is a job for me and not a fun thing, though often I do think my job is fun.

But I don’t really fit in with the crowd for whom this stuff is especially important. And so I don’t know that I’d fit in at a superhappydevhouse. It’d be awkward for me, and forced. I’d feel like I was pretending. This all makes me feel like a curmudgeon.

The funny thing is that those close to me, I think, think I’m sort of tech savvy. Some of them look on me as I look on those who surround me out here in Silicon Valley. I’m a medium-to-large fish in the web-pond that is East Tennessee, but I’m guppy shit here in the seat of Web technology. It’s very demoralizing. It makes me want to to sit in the car in the garage with a hose in my mouth or just quit and maybe work at some menial task for the rest of my life. It’s at times like this that I wish really hard that someone rich would die and leave me lots of money.

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