I think a better way to put this is “Just because you’ve learned the language, doesn’t mean you’re a professional” (Or whatever job title you want to insert that is under the umbrella of a professional who writes code)
At 13 I was learning to code with tools like Visual BASIC, a kid friendly version of Logo. That was programming. Was it simple and crude? Yes. But it was still programming, just as when a young student writes a story, they are still an author. They’re just not a professional yet.
You’re absolutely right that programming has been trivialized into this magic, easy thing. I’ve been a part of programs to teach kids to code and the kids are promised way more than can be delivered to them, quickly. It’s unrealistic for them to learn all that they need to know to make that cool app idea they have in a single class or a semester or even a couple of years.
I’ve been coding for a decade now, and at 23, I’m finally becoming a productive contributor to projects as a professional. It’s not as simple as people want to make “coding” out to be, but without the tools, services, teachers and in-school coding programs I wouldn’t have a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and a career programming.
It’s easy to be cynical about how people are selling the idea of “coding” to the non-tech literate masses but I think it’s important to recognize that people are just trying to do the right thing and get more people tech literate in a whatever ways that they can.
Is it really disingenuous to say that kids and the uninitiated will be super productive almost immediately? Absolutely. After 4 years of CS school, a few internships and some full time jobs, I still have plenty to learn myself. However, we don’t need any more “No True Scotsman” displays of what “real” programming is, we need everyone to have a general understanding of our field.
“Coding” in pop culture is the first step to demystifying the technology that dominates everyone’s lives. It’s not where it should be, but let’s not get on our high horses about it and let’s fix the problems in how “coding” is presented by making it accessible to the uninitiated.