Jay Little - Software Obsessionist
Road to Acceptance: Anger Versus Apathy

04/18/2018 23:41:04

So I've been spending a lot of time in the midst of a situation that leaves me feeling very angry. Today I got more angry than usual and since that is becoming a more common occurrence I thought it might behoove me to delve into why.

I'm going to start off explaining why I am angry. The core issue is that I am expected to accomplish a task that is by all rights impossible to accomplish. My roadblock isn't a technological one but rather a cultural and organizational one. I want to change the world in which I live for the better. My mandate is to provide the tools that will enable us to do exactly that. But with each passing day it becomes clear that the tools aren't enough. Tooling can't combat apathy.

Apathy comes in many forms and exists for many reasons. In this particular case I believe the apathy stems from acceptance of a situation and circumstances which are ultimately untenable. However in order to persist in this situation I myself must find a way to reach a state of acceptance. Right now I cannot do that. That is because it appears that acceptance of this situation requires me to embrace apathy. It would require me to abandon professional principles that I hold near and dear to my heart. It would also require me to embrace a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mindset.

This is not how I'm wired. At my core I am a problem solver. If you bring me a problem, my natural response will be to attempt to provide a solution. This isn't limited to just technology. But as technology forms the basis of most of the tools I have for solving problems, I mostly end up producing solutions of a technical nature.

In this case that approach has failed me. Every time a technical solution has failed to produce the desired results in this situation due to cultural and organizational issues, I have gone back to the drawing board and redoubled my efforts. Such a hard-headed approach may have its benefits but in this case it has left me feeling misled and ultimately quite bitter.

I honestly don't know what to do. I'm oscillating on simply abandoning my mandate altogether or embracing apathy as my primary coping mechanism. It's easy to get on board with the first option when I'm at my most angry but once I get away from it, the second option becomes more appealing. But the truth is, I believe my lack of apathy forms a core part of what makes me an effective software developer. If I make an overt decision to care less, then I can't help but to feel that my work and my skills will suffer in kind.

So I'm stuck. I'm tired of feeling angry. Becoming apathetic is the only way to resolve that without upending everything. Yet in the long run, becoming apathetic may very well upend a whole hell of a lot more than I bargained for. I'll be thinking about this and grappling with the conflict over the days to come. If anybody has any advice, feel free to reach out.

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