This text has been in my draft box for a long while. It was written around 25/05/2021. A moment in my life where I was working with a really bad manager who uses threat as motivator, in the middle of covid19, doing crazy oncalls with tickets almost every night not allowinng me to sleep properly and taking depression/anxiety medication. On top of all that, “I had to perform”.
Now that passed, I’m working in a company that does not use the motivation written here (but another type). Rereading the text, I still find some truth around it, although it is clear the bitness of the moment on the writing.
I was not sure if I should publish this, but I think all the anger in it may be helpful for someone passing through a similar situation. You are not alone.
The (never finished) text:
Tech workers face a conflicting environment, while there’s not a single individual who can say “I built this” since frameworks, languages, OS, and all required libraries are made by collectives. Yet, tech companies force us to be the hero. Engineers work long hours because they associate their sacrifice with their value. Work more, deliver more, make those GUYS richer. You are important, look how much money have you made them.
We live in a sad society; status and competition are everywhere. More experienced developers judge and hurt young engineers. Code reviews became big ego fights. We are locked inside our houses, yet, companies keep asking how productive we are, how can we produce more, mailing us on how good they are doing. “Hey, look, the world is shit right now, but the online markets are growing”. People are told to celebrate. More people are buying online; more people are joining the social network. Business is excellent, thanks to you all. “We haven’t forgotten all those people dying; it’s just positive messages”. Yeah, right.
We are told the money we are paid increases directly with the knowledge we acquire. So we spend more and more time learning, we don’t have time to help others. In some companies, the incentive to not help your colleagues is so great that people sabotage each other’s projects, so they look better.
Even little better companies use “meritocracy” as a way to “compensate” the workers. Creating a rush for important projects, for being the first to jump into new things, while not considering colleagues’ wishes, personal issues or even the users’ needs. Although helping others is seen as a good thing in those companies, no one is really rewarded for spending too much time helping and not “delivering”.
The big tech env is a big “delivery till you die”. Some companies fantasied about it in nice little stories. We are told we are Amazonians, Googlers. We are told we are the company. People are told to celebrate any surplus increase in a very nationalistic manner. Oncall becomes a “war”, you a soldier. Woke up at 3 AM? Good for you, thank you, freedom fighter!
You are changing the world!