You Are Not Your Programming Language

September 20, 2012

The psychology of the average software engineer is fascinating. Not only do they develop a sense of entitlement towards management, as well as an attitude of elitism toward Product and QA, they will also seek to segment themselves from other software engineers through the selection of their programming language. Following a fraternal instinct, the overwhelmingly male software engineering community clumps into programming language cliques, and once the bond is established it can last their entire career. Sadly, much like college frat-boys attempting to define themselves through Greek letters, defining yourself by your programming language is both pathetic and myopic.

Software engineers, when looked at through the lens of society as a whole, are comprised almost entirely of geeks and nerds. In high school, while jocks were out partying on a Friday night learning the subtle arts of speaking to women, these future software engineers were at home playing video games. When a jock was learning how to do the minimum to get by, the geek was lamenting over less-than-perfect grades. When jocks go to college, they are drawn to fraternities like ants to a sugar cube. Nerds, on the other hand, too busy with study to socialize, miss out on male bonding rituals, and instead seek to fill the void of brotherhood in their professional careers.

Software engineers are conditioned by the software development industry to think that they are defined by their programming language, and to switch programming languages is a dangerous act of disloyalty. Who will want to hire someone who has only worked professionally with language A, and now wants a job programming language B? Absurd. So much safer to stay in your comfort zone, rather than try to break ranks for no apparent gain. Besides, writing software in a particular programming language is really the point of software engineering. Starting over is hard, and there’s no reason to put yourself though that when you have already paid your dues. Take pride in being a [insert language here] programmer, and don’t be one of those people who pushes themselves outside of their comfort zone, only to suffer the consequences.

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I would like to point out that if we work together today, or have in the past, my opinions may or may not have been influenced by working with you. Most likely they have been, but I have to say that to avoid offending people. You're so vain. I bet you think this site is about you.