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Why did the software engineering community become so toxic?

Aladin Ben Sassi
Web developer, frontend consultant, avid reader, and a total tech geek. I work closely with Startups and Big Businesses. Find me on
・3 min read

For years, the nerds were on the bottom of the food chain, whether in high school or the dating pool, being the nerd, meant you were dealt a bad hand, and who’s more of a nerd than someone who spends all his day in a dark corner of his room typing on a keyboard.

I was that guy, I’m still that guy, but I never minded what people said or thought about me, considering that I’ve been coding way before I became a developer for a living, and way before being a nerd became cool.

But in the early 2000’s something happened, nerds were suddenly selling their websites, and software for millions, being a nerd now meant that you might be smart enough to start the next million dollar company, and nerds all over the world were reading about the achievements of their fellow comrades, and salivating about the day, they get their break too. I mean surely every coder out there feels he’s smart enough to conquer the world if he wasn't lazy or unluck or any other excuse that people tell themselves to feel better, yet never having the courage to admit to themselves, that they’re just not good enough.

This sudden change of image in the lives of developers and software engineers, gave them power and respect, and most of all, the desire to make up for all the years they spent being bullied and shoved into lockers, not to mention all the nipple twisters, so of course they’d start talking about how great it is to be a developer publicly, whereas before, they had to do it in obscure forums where their bullies couldn’t find them, and the only thing in sight was other nerds and social anxiety.

The change was subtle at first, I even joined in on it, and rejoiced at the idea of people cheering for the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, whereas only a few years before, they only cared about who scored more touchdowns this season. But as time went by, the community changed from a group of friends, helping each other, and discussing the latest framework, to a group of delusional, annoying, self-absorbed, little people, who felt it necessary, to boast about their high IQ, next billion dollar idea, and financial freedom at the age of nine.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to code, I wrote software for fun, and I wrote it for a living, and I’d never trade my career for anything in the world, I even love those little annoying people albeit it might be pitty more than love, but to think that these are the people who are loud enough to be heard, and represent the rest of us, who’d never use something they love as a stepping stone in the social ladder, pushes me to drink at seven in the morning, although that might be early signs of alcoholism, the jury is still out on that.

Nowadays, everyone and their dog is a “developer”, and squirrels gather in groups discussing their new app idea that’s basically uber, but for delivering nuts, and that’s all cool with me, but who do they have to look up to? It’s the loud majority that posts tweets like “Oh my God, I took an IQ test and I scored 9000+, being a developer really does mean you’re a genius!!!!!!”, and they start copying them, thinking that this is the norm, and to be honest my liver can’t take any more 7am shots.

To these people I say, please stop, software engineering is a sweet gig, most developers I know are smart and respectable people, even the ones who wear horrible t-shirts with unclever jokes on them, but it’s just not what you make it out to be, and to all the young developers, don’t look up to these toxic individuals, who’re trying to make people feel insignificant, just to make up for the fact that they never got invited to parties growing up, admire the people who add to the community, who share tutorials and helpful tips, the ones that work in silence and give us the tools we need to do a great job, and to those people I say thank you, I raise my glass to you. Maybe I do have an alcohol problem…

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