In Brexitland and 'Technikland'
This post was written 4 years ago.
Mon, 17 Oct 2016
116 days after the Brexit vote, 23 days before the American presidential election. What a weird space to be in. It feels like having fallen through a rabbit hole and wandering about confusedly, changing sizes all the time, wanting to cry pools of tears, and forever looking for an exit. Isn't it time to wake up already? - Is there going to be a point anytime soon, where we can just say "Remember how crazy that all was?" and everybody you shared this particular part of the space-time continuum with, will know what you mean? I fear it will not be until after a tremendous storm has swept over us, and I don't want to think too hard about the different shapes this storm could take on.
Occasionally, people make comparisons between this country and Germany in the 1930ies, and I always wonder how valid they are. Today, I imagined myself tweeting "You are still far far off. Your government wants to make you look more nasty than you are." But then I never tweet all the many tweet-thoughts I have. And, isn't that exactly what prompted the comparison, the government inciting people to distance themselves from their neighbours just because they are of a different origin? That is ultimately what the current government is doing, isn't it? So, yeah, they are using similar methods to an extent, and yet I'd hesitate to compare them too much. On the other hand, in Germany there's that expression "Wehret den Anfängen" which basically means "Nip things in the bud", just in more dramatic words: "Guard yourself against the beginnings" or so. It always sounded quite solemn to me, and so important to adhere to. Just how?! Everybody I know is quick to condemn the government speak, but as we know from the rederendum, it echoes around in our little filter bubble, or ends in confrontation with the opposite side and that's it. Meanwhile the nastiness trickles bit by bit into people's minds, they become more used to it and less inclined to say anything (because it won't change anything), and it finds fertile soil in those who already think in terms of the 'them versus us'. It would be the governments task to stop this kind of thinking from informing what people do, but if instead they encourage it, where is it going to end?
I had not planned to write any of this, and there is no big new insight in it, I guess I just want to pin down what the athmosphere is like at the moment, and that it all feels a bit gloomy. And the fact that it's not just Britain, that the move to the right is happening all across Europe, is all the more worrying. Britain could have been a beacon of light (alongside the new compassionate-looking Germany - that unfortunately still has a dark side, too, don't be fooled), that is what I find so sad.
The worst thing is that horrible things are happening, especially the bombing of Aleppo, which the main attention should be on, by all of Europe, all of the world. Instead, countries are busy turning themselves into fortresses, and every outrageous utterance by a certain despicable being (I refuse to write that name) is discussed at great length.
I am wondering whether to write about my original reason to write. Perhaps briefly.
While I am, for the time being, going to stay in Brexitland, I am wondering about tech land. How much sense does it make to remain there? Yes, with all the above, I still manage to have my ten zillionth career crisis. Hooray! A few days ago I read the transcript of a talk called "Mid-Career Survival for People Who Don't Want to be an Attrition Statistic When They Grow Up" It is definitely a good talk. But unfortunately, rather than being reassuring, it reminded me of how easily that could happen. My circumstances are quite different from the speaker's, I never worked for a big corporation or a start-up. And I'm not in America. But I still find some parallels.
[Edit 18 Oct 2016 - Taken out some stuff about my work - most of it was positive anyway, but think now I'd rather speak in general terms]
But possibly the thing that makes me most doubtful is not even the job, but my Meetup group. I still don't feel entitled to do the things I want to do. Last week I finally gave a workshop, on Git. I felt terrible afterwards, because I had written some of the exercises the night before and the instructions were so unclear that it became a bit chaotic. Still it seems to have been useful to people, especially the women.
The thing is, I cannot know. If I don't actually know that much about Git, could I confuse people and make things worse? Am I, instead of flying the flag for women in tech, actually damning there reputation further, by being dopey and ignorant, and pretending to know more than I do? Ha! But that is exactly what many men do so often, isn't it?! It is just nobody expects it of a woman. But then of course there are people who are very knowledgeable. And many of them are men. - I have these high standards, that I want to be like them. But if (at the moment ;)) I'm not, should that really prevent me from trying to help other people, organise events whose main benefit is the social side of things anyway? The only thing is I could look stupid. I'm developing some resilience against that. But also: I am spending a lot of time and energy that I could use on other things. That latter then, is the absolute key point. Is it all worth it?
I have for now decided that I will look at that question again in a year's time (given things stay roughly the same, and there are no major catastrophes). Till then, I will throw myself into it all one more time, learn as much as I can learn, teach what I can teach, help to increase diversity as much as I can, and meet lots of cool people!