My experience being a developer with no developer community
**EDIT** Hello there HN! I’ll be completely honest, I saw my stats say I got 100 views and was absolutely floored. To now have thousands and even get on the front page is overwhelming. When I wrote this, it was more catharsis than anything, so to have people come out and offer words of support feels wonderful.
I spend a lot of time reading Hacker News and various software-focused sub-reddits. In fact, the first thing I do once I get to work every day (after grabbing my source of caffeine), is open up HN and Reddit and catch up on whats new and whats happening in our industry. For me, it’s both great and depressing, great because it provides me with a window into what is happening throughout the rest of the industry, but depressing because I am one lone person looking in at a community and desperately wishing I could break through that window and join in.
I’m sure by now people are saying something along the lines of “well that’s just silly, go to a meetup and get involved with your local scene.” Which is great advice for people who live in large cities. I live in Geelong, a coastal city in Victoria, Australia 1 hour down the highway from Melbourne. Geelong is known for many things, we housed the factory that made some of Fords top performing engines, we were the home to Target Australia’s headquarters and…. Well, that’s all I can really think of. Of course, as I write this, the Ford engine plant is shutting down this year and Target is moving to Melbourne, so Geelong doesn’t really have much of anything going for it anymore, least of which any kind of real tech community (although, that’s not for a lack of trying, a handful of people have been working really hard on that). The closest meetup I could think of is an hour down the highway in Melbourne (1hr 20m by train), and it’s not to say I haven’t tried to attend those either, but after a full days work, to travel that far and back again with work the next day it becomes very taxing.
Next, people will usually say, why not move to where there is a tech scene, which I would love to do, but can’t because of the “Geelong trap”. Geelong has a lower cost of living which employers translate into lower wages, I currently can’t even afford to move out of my parents house let alone move into a city like Melbourne (or god forbid, Sydney). That’s not to say I don’t like or appreciate my job, because I do, but Geelong is not a city that has been touched by the demand for high wages for tech workers, and a lot of us tech workers could honestly make more money working in a supermarket (I know I used to).
Now, I’ve been very negative about the city I live in, but this next point falls onto my head, which is that when people say “Well why not get involved in open-source”, I can only say back “I’d love to, but with timezone differences, strong personalities and incredibly low self-esteem I don’t feel like I’d really be welcome there.” Which, I know is silly given that open-source has historically been one of the most accepting communities in the world, but an accepting community can not help someone plagued by anxiety, self-esteem issues and imposter syndrome.
It’s an isolating feeling, being physically, mentally and geographically blocked from being able to surround yourself in a community, a feeling which I would never wish upon anyone.
So that’s my story, it’s not very glamorous, but it’s my story nonetheless.