jstanier Here be dragons.

Enough

I’ve read plenty of articles about the fear of missing out, highlighting the potential that social media has to make you feel that everyone else, apart from you, is doing wonderfully exciting things.

“Steve’s just bought a new car. How did he afford that? Julie and Max are in Paris. Haven’t they already had two holidays this year? How much is Sarah spending on coffee? Man, I must be poor…”

Social activities aside, it’s the same with our careers. The effect is amplified more if you work in technology, because it’s impossible to miss the news pinging around the Internet. Somehow, everyone has time to contribute to meaningful open source projects and you don’t. Others are speaking at conferences regularly, and you aren’t. That person you know has just signed a book deal, and you don’t even know where to find the time to exercise once a week. With over-exposure to Twitter and Hacker News, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing barely anything of any consequence.

Is it right to feel that way?

Well, if you’re working in technology and you’re extremely busy contributing code that lands in front of paying customers, then that’s a big deal. If you’re firefighting to hang on to existing customers, then that’s a big deal. If you’re making an exciting new product, then that’s also a big deal. It’s more than enough. Practical application of engineering skills to solve real issues for real money is hard and often messy, but it helps everyone in your company provide for themselves and their loved ones: an impact that goes way beyond yourself.

Sure, notoriety is nice, and so is seeing yourself on YouTube in front of a hundred people. But what I feel matters is you and your colleagues being part of a mission that has real punch when making that ding in the universe. The extra commits on Github just aren’t worth feeling sad about.