Think of the beginners

For the last years, programmers from around the web are struggling to keep a grasp on the myth that you need to be talented and passionate in order to be a programmer. The latest attempt at letting go on this myth came from this post in which you can experience first hand what I’ll talk about, by checking the top comments.

Of course, no one would ever deny that the top of anything (ranging from professional fields like medicine, cooking and programming, to even stuff like sexual attraction to the sex of your choice) is desirable. But it’s absurd to claim that unless you are at the top 20% of the set of people that we’re talking about, we are better off without you.

People seem to forget that if everyone is talented, no one effectively is, and for those who struggle to understand why that’s true remember that a social hierarchical structure will always arise from a set of people. This means, if every developer was suddenly talented, people will have to find another way to measure who is better than the other, and this means that talent stops being something special and becomes an uninspiring standard for everyone who participates in the pyramid. “Yeah, you’re talented. So what?”, people will proclaim, as they struggle to find another method of filtering the good from the great.

But I encourage you to see all this absurdity from a different angle. From the beginner’s angle, the kid who struggles understanding pointers for the first time and doesn’t seem to get it with the 2nd try, or the one who needs further explanation on how closures work in JavaScript so much that he’s Googling for a good while and still hasn’t figured it out.

That kind of person then bumps into posts that proclaim “if you don’t have both talent and passion, just drop it and go do something else, people will hate you for having to fix your code, you’re jeopardizing the project and by extend the company’s success just because you’re present”. Imagine the unbearable mental weight that every difficulty will bring. “I still can’t figure out closures, omg I’m such a failure”. Every mistake he makes will only serve as proof that he’s just not meant to be the type of programmer everyone wants to have in the team, IF he’s even meant to be a programmer at all. And suddenly this beginner starts questioning everything, his decision to get into something that he found interesting, his decision to apply for CS in a university, his decision to dedicate himself into learning.

Now, tell me how would you feel if you were in his shoes.

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