Let's Face It - Programmers Are Not Rockstars

I wonder when we will stop calling programmers "Rockstars". Rockstars are people that have large fan bases, loads of cash, lots of girls (predominantly rockstars are male or at least were in the 80's/90's), others envy their lifestyle.  Real rockstars are wild trendsetters.  Programmers on the other hand are for the most part introverts, settled down, drug free, methodical, no one besides their programmer friends would really think they are the coolest thing on earth.  Very few programmers have more than a few twitter followers.  Even the big names have at most a few thousand followers on twitter, not even close to the millions that a real rock star has. Very few people that I know would idolize a programmer, besides  maybe another programmer.

I wonder who ever started this "rockstar" analogy.  Maybe it began with all the hot silicon valley startups, the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page Sergey Brin to name a few.  After all they did reach some fame and lots of riches and they were for the most part programmers.  But those are extreme outliers, far from the norm.

Somethings that I could buy being called, would be surgeon (only loosely, handling someones life is eons more critical than fixing a broken webpage), because we've been known to, very precisely and carefully, cut out very large portions of vital code and replace it with improved code.  We gut the code so to speak.

You could call us craftsman because we practice with new tools and new approaches every day and the good programmers take their craft very seriously.  Also the ones that love the craft spend many years on their journey to becoming masters, many times several decades.

You could call us artists because most of our work has its own unique style.  As much as we'd like to think about programming as a component of computer science and science for that matter, programming has very artistic component about it.  The truth is that many problems that we solve are unique to each context and require as much creativity as ingenuity. Furthermore, when you give the same problem to ten different programmers you will get ten different approaches to the same solution, each with its own artistic signature.

You could even call us mechanics because debugging involves troubleshooting.

I would even accept a "super hero" analogy because we've been known to save the day on occasion, thanks to our advanced computer skills.   Just ask the many people whose computers we have cleaned from malware and viruses or the colleague who's workload we've reduced by writing a quick script to automate a repetitive and tedious task.

There are many more analogies to the programmer but "rockstar" is the farthest in my mind.

Yes programmers deserve some respect and recognition because we easily handle tasks that are difficult to the common person.  The good programmers have great skills and vast amounts of knowledge, but the things programmers find exciting are not exciting at all.  In fact those are the same things that'll have common person thinking that we are such nerds. So instead of cranking out our nerdyness on stage to a sold out stadium, we keep those things to ourselves and humbly bring software for others to use and leverage.

Indeed we are nerds, but if everyone else knew how much joy we get out of our work and how exciting we find it, we would cause more envy than a "rock star".

As I close this post out, I can only imagine many of my readers thinking "who in the world thinks you guys are rockstars?".  That.. is just another fact that proves my point.


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