The ‘Social Network’ Syndrome and the lure of Starting Up

originally posted on August 3, 2013 on Tumblr


This isn’t an easy post to write, since I don’t like getting too personal while blogging. It is, however, an important one. I thought about writing it anonymously, but I’m not too fond of hiding behind a mask.

It’s just past noon on Saturday. To be honest, it sort of feels like a long Wednesday for me that still hasn’t ended. While most of my life seems like a blur, the last few days feel like one, long, difficult stretch. I feel like I have been just cycling between working for long hours at my desk, shifting occasionally to my bed, getting some sleep at times or grabbing a meal.

I feel tired, burnt-out and having to use all my strength to not Google the symptoms of depression, because I am certain that if I do so, I would be convinced I am suffering from it. Tomorrow’s my birthday, but I couldn’t give a crap about it. I have been through this before a number of times over the past three years, and I know I’ll get through this. Eventually. As the cliche goes, starting up is a roller coaster ride with a LOT of ups and downs.

Every time I am in such a position, I can’t help but feel sorry for the number of college kids out there convinced that entrepreneurship is their true calling, since most of them have no idea what they’re in for. I blame a lot of people for this, the media which loves to highlight the success (because that’s what sells), the investors (because they want you to start something so they can make money from your hard work) and, most of all, Aaron Sorkin.

I fucking hate Aaron Sorkin.

Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a great writer. The Newsroom is one of my favourite current TV shows, and I’d love to watch The West Wing when I get some time. I just think that The Social Network was such a great movie, that it has inspired a generation of wannabe-Entrepreneurs who look at starting up as a frenzy of Red Bull-fueled 16 hour working days, parties with never ending amounts of booze and some sex thrown in.

Yes, I know that the exaggerations and warnings about how inaccurately the movie portrays things have been talked about a lot previously. However, I don’t think it has been talked about enough. There are still immature founders out there chasing “the dream” for the wrong reasons, wasting significant amounts of their funding on parties and unnecessary extravagances, which leads to an unavoidable death of their company.

I am not here to tell you to not chase your dreams. I am here, writing this, to remind you to always put things in perspective.

Regardless of what Justin Timberlake says, a million dollars IS cool.

The first thing you need to do is to remember that your startup is just another job. Yes, you have more on the line, and you will probably need to put in a lot more effort and time, but find a balance as soon as possible.

Make sure to take out time to hang around with friends, catch up on some of the movies and don’t stop yourself from dating someone. Those things can keep you sane, which makes them invaluable. Get some physical activity, blog, find your fix.

Besides my girlfriend who I get to meet twice a week at best, I don’t have any of that, and I am suffering because of it. I know that I really need to make some changes, and I wish I had done so a long, long time ago.

I have no regrets about starting up, because I genuinely love my work despite days like today. If you don’t, and it’s very much possible you may not after going through all the ups and downs, quit. There is no shame in that. And if you haven’t gotten on yet, you’ve been warned. This isn’t an easy life, and you shouldn’t think any less of yourself if you think you’re not built for it.

At the end of it, what really matters is whether or not your happy.

About me

I’m a Google Developer Expert for UX/Design, and the Product Manager for Mobile at Haptik. If you’re working on something interesting, I’d love to hear about it!