Indelible Blue Pen

Jason C. McDonald (CodeMouse92)

September 16, 2012

The Serious Side of Silly Names

I’m beginning to realize that these “species” I often write about – P. Newbieflamerous, P. Takeoveriticus, P. Noreadicus, P. Militaricusetc. – exist in realms outside of the programming industry. As you probably know, I work with and in a wide variety of fields: writing, music, graphics (indirectly), and programming being four of them. I’ve met Graphicus Knowitallicus, Authorus Burnbridgerous (name inspired by this article), and the list goes on…

In case you’re thinking I’m being rather cruel with these pseudo-scientific names, I can assure you, I’m not. As a wise person once said, “Humor is a gentle way of acknowledging human frailty.” Not to mention, I’ve said and done things in the past that could have classified me as many of the above. I’ve found the first step in fixing these character glitches is in being able to laugh at them. I’m quite guilty of taking myself too seriously, so I can tell you first hand, not being able to laugh at one’s own stupidity is a surefire way to stay stuck in said stupidity.

The danger lies wherein we refuse to look at our quirks and flaws. Romans 12:3 says “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Truth is, we all have gifts and talents, but none of us are without flaw.

For me, one of my biggest weaknesses is in valuing my ideas over those of other people, and in reciprocating rudeness (real or perceived). I have been a P. Knowitallicus and P. Burnbridgerous.

Case and point, shortly after I first started programming, I was on an IRC channel with other programmers. I asked a question, another guy answered incorrectly, and then we discovered that he was wrong. Instead of admitting his mistake, he defended himself, refusing to admit his oversight. And I made things worse by snarking him right back.

Fast forward a couple years, I shared a code method that I had written, that worked quite well. I received a very rude rebuttal from another programmer, detailing how I didn’t know what I was doing. And instead of shrugging it off and looking through what she said to find anything that could be of use to me, I reacted. Ironically, I am now updating my code to use the very change she suggested.

Granted, I feel bad about both instances, and other similar cases. My first reaction is to claim my justification…I had reasonable cause in both cases to act the way I did. But does that make it right? Absolutely not. Matthew 5:39 says “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” I have always struggled with that verse. Does it mean that I’m supposed to just let people use me as a doormat?

Based on the whole context of the Bible, especially the Gospels, no. However, it does mean that I need to not “snark back” at the other person. I’m so apt to proverbially slap my attacker in return, but I’m learning that it only makes things worse. I advise the young programmers I mentor not return the rudeness they may receive, but I’m still struggling to take my own advice to heart.

I’ve seen many people destroy their careers and lives over unresolved issues, and I do not want to be the next casualty.

In fact, just recently, I watched a former friend sabotage her own career because she refused to face her flaws. Here was a woman with much talent, a creative mind, a sensitive heart, and a calling. Yet, because she did not deal with her issues of paranoia and false guilt, pride, and unchecked anger, circumstances would come that would magnify those unresolved issues beyond her control. Over the past three years, I’ve watched her destroy relationship after relationship to the point of obliterating her good name in her field.

My mother, in fact, was among the casualties. For over a decade, she had poured so much into her relationship with this woman. Finally, after three years of building tension, the relationship was severed by my former friend in a fit of uncontrolled anger and resentment, in which she blamed my mother for things she herself was responsible for. Finally, after weeks of silence, my mother receives a scathing letter, in which she is needlessly torn down and falsely accused of lacking in both skill and integrity.

This happened after me watching my mother spend literal years putting aside her own needs, desires, and projects for this woman. My mother works for my game company as our lead content developer, and I would literally give her countless deadline extensions, just so she could fulfill the needs of her old friend. I watched her go entire nights without sleep, helping her friend meet a deadline.

And yet, because this woman refused to acknowledge and deal with her own issues, she threw away that relationship, along with many others. If it hasn’t already happened, she will discover before long that she has destroyed her career and her life. My heart breaks for her, but there is nothing I can do.

There is a purpose to my humorous posts about the quirkiness of people. My hope is that it will help each of my readers start noticing, and laughing at, their own flaws, so that they can deal with them. My hope is that some P. Newbieflamerous may recognize some of the warning signs and be able to change his approach with beginners, before he gains a reputation as a caustic individual; that another Authorus Burnbridgicus may realize that he has to nurture professional relationships, before he creates an early end for his writing career.

Above all, I write about this for myself. If the very things that irritate us about other people are the very things that we ourselves are guilty of, then there is no one who needs to laugh at and learn from this nearly as much as I do.

The laughter is great, but my hope is that, in the least, this blog will change just one life…because that one life can make all the difference in the world.



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