Welp, I kinda gave up waxing personal on this blog a while ago, but what the hell, why not make an exception once in a while.
So in the last couple of years I’ve been thinking about work and stuff a lot. For a while there I wondered if I was getting burned out; after all, I’ve been doing kinda-sorta-approximately the same job for about a decade now, and it can be stressful at times.
So I’ve been keeping an eye on that and avoiding too many long work days and all-nighters and stuff, but no, I don’t think that’s actually it. I think what’s going on is, well, the post title:
I don’t actually like computers any more.
I also suspect I’m not the only one around here.
That could come off wrong, though. So let’s look at that in a bit more detail.
I still actually really like my job, if I let myself just be absorbed in the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute detail of it and don’t think much longer term than that. I enjoy digging into bug reports and figuring out what the crap’s going wrong. I enjoy most of the code work I’m doing these days, heck, even the bits that involve Perl, more often than not. I don’t enjoy blocker bug meetings, but I can hack it.
But here’s the thing: somewhere along the way there, I kinda just totally lost any inherent interest in what I’m doing it for.
I started out with Linux and F/OSS because I was, well, a kid who liked tinkering with computers. I spent most of my spare time either reading books or messing around on the internet – and for all you kids out there, this was the 1990s internet, when ‘the internet’ was mostly email, usenet and FTP, and you accessed it over a dial-up modem that cost 2p a minute and got yelled at by your parents when you stayed online all night downloading all six megabytes of the Quake shareware release…
And I enjoyed that. It was fun. It was a hobby, in and of itself. And, you know, I got 1990s computers. And early 2000s computers. I was jacked in and surfing the wave, maaan. It was gonna be the year of the Linux desktop real soon now.
Somewhere along the way, in the last OH GOD TWENTY YEARS, we – along with a bunch of vulture capitalists and wacky Valley libertarians and government spooks and whoever else – built this whole big crazy thing out of that 1990s Internet and…I don’t like it any more.
- I don’t watch videos on computers.
- I barely read Twitter.
- I don’t listen to podcasts.
- I don’t Instagram. Or Snapchat. Or Vine. Or…any of those things.
- I don’t Netflix.
- I don’t Spotify.
- I don’t Uber.
- I don’t have or want an Alexa. Or a Google Home. Or a Sonos.
- I don’t want my light switches connected to the internet.
- Or my fridge.
- Or my thermostat.
- Or really anything except my computer.
It’s not fun any more. I’m not against all these things, necessarily. But they don’t make me excited. I don’t want them. I just don’t really care. Computers – including cellphones, tablets, whatever – aren’t my hobby any more. I don’t stop working and then have fun fiddling around with my computers or doing stuff on the internet. I stop working and I want to go do something which doesn’t involve the internet at all. I like sports. I like reading. If I play games, it’s mostly Nintendo games which absolutely are not online. I like concerts. I like eating out, in old-fashioned restaurants. I like sitting on buses and going places. One of my major criteria for buying things is whether they can do their job without a network connection
I use computers for…well, I use them for reading stuff. That is, actually reading it. Text. Pictures if I have to. I use them for figuring out how to get places, and for buying stuff. And that’s kind of mostly it.
I run Fedora on a bunch of computers because, I mean, it’s kinda my job; I get to spend lots of funtimes keeping my desktop and two laptops and a FreeIPA server and a mail server and a web server all running. But I don’t really enjoy it. I hope they keep working and as long as they do I leave them alone. When they stop working and I have to fix them I feel vaguely resentful. It’s not fun. It’s work.
I dunno where I’m going with this. I don’t have any big thesis. I just wanted to write it down. Like I said, I still love the hour-to-hour, day-to-day process of making Fedora. But…I don’t have some burning reason to be involved in it in the first place, any more. It’s not 1996 any more. It’s not the year of the Linux desktop. It’s never gonna be the year of the Linux desktop. It’s never even going to be the year of the desktop ever again.
Now it’s just what I do…because it’s what I do.