everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### hacking-is-a-burnout-risk *originally posted:* aug 2022 this is not a self-congratulatory post, or any sort of congratulatory post, nor is it a critique of hackers-- i wanted to call it "why hacking is a burnout risk" but since it doesnt try to be as comprehensive as that, i went for covering this one category of burnout and one cause of it. i think it will apply at least, to all categories of hacking-- from technical to political to social, anywhere that change happens or a potential for change comes from "clever" solutions or even "playful cleverness". the point isnt to discourage most hacking due to the risk, but to talk about a cause of burnout so it might be mitigated (or even occasionally, avoided). one of the main causes of burnout is arseholes exploiting you as cheap labour. if youre not being exploited, and your labour is truly part of the gift economy, i have no problem with that. it can be really nice to create things without an overabundance of obligations or direction, or micromanagement. one of the things that distinguishes from the real gift economy, rather than corporate exploitation posing as some kind of gift economy, is that when you give people gifts they dont stop by and say "this is great, but im going to need about five times as many of these tomorrow, theyre for a good cause..." thats not a gift economy. but sometimes they try to blur these lines a bit, so youll feel good about getting used. anyway, thats jumping ahead of things. mostly i wanted to talk about people burning themselves out, trying to do too much. this isnt just a problem with overly generous people. and this goes all the way back to the cotton gin too. so suppose you find a clever hack-- doesnt have to be an invention per se, doesnt even have to be a working program, it can simply be some clever "trick" of any kind, to increase efficiency and therefore, increase level of output at the same rate of input. this applies of course in terms of material production, but im talking about literally any sort of work-- delivery, manufacturing, cooking, teaching, writing poetry, chopping down trees, arranging flowers-- even just calling people up to see if theyre okay, or carefully talking someone off a ledge. theres a thing that people do-- maybe not literally every person, but probably every single person i can think of, when they get a new toy... > if i had a hammer, id hammer in the morning-- id hammer in the evening, all over this land! admittedly that song was nothing remotely about using a hammer everywhere. and ive done this too many times to count (but oh my gosh! imagine if i had a way to count them! and i could count EVERY ONE!) but this is basically how every single startup works: "WEVE GOT A NEW IDEA!" "thats AWESOME, what should we do with it?" "lets drive the quality of our lives and health down while beating it into submission and plowing it into dust, then SELL IT off while it still has SOME SPARK OF LIFE left in it!" "GREAT! WHEN SHOULD WE START!" "YESTERDAY!" im not just talking about "marketable" ideas though, i mean literally any stitch in time that saves... BUNDLES!!! for example, ive spent the past few years plowing the heck out of a project or two i worked on, and then when i use THAT to make ANOTHER project, i plow the heck out of that, too. any time i get a new idea or a new tool, i try to think about it in about 5,000 different scenerios. then i set out to test them! its not all bad, people-- this is how we got the fucking light bulb. and the telephone. and the computer. but at the same time, this is also why edison nailed a pillow to his workbench and slept at work (sort of like stallman, except edison owned the property-- not that most of us dont lease, you know) and in his later years had a diet that seemed to consist primarily of apple pie and cocaine. (im not joking. but thats not to say this is definitely accurate...) edison was an arsehole who exploited everyone that worked for him, but he was also (though this might make the other part redundant) one of the original startup culture guys. and im not here to talk about startup culture so much as its work ethic, which many of us have adopted, or simply found laying on the sidewalk and taken it home to nurse it back to its horrible, soul-sucking life. im not a prohibitionist, and im not saying dont get drunk. to be sure, we are going to have some wild hacking binges. its just another part of life. but i also think, if you are an alcoholic, you deserve better than that. and if youre a silly-valley-style workaholic, you deserve better than that, too. a lot of times, this "workaholism" is pushed on us, to exploit us. but in other instances, we are very capable of doing it to ourselves. its a bad habit, but im not blaming YOU for it-- im blaming the habit itself, for what it does. what YOU do about it, for yourself, is pretty much your business. but i also think excessive working does harm to everyone. a culture of workaholism is unhealthy, and ripens us all for exploitation. this makes it easier to overlook exploitation when it happens to us-- or even to other people (but also, when it happens to us). whether it happens to someone else, or just you, its still unhealthy. but i also think its REALLY, REALLY common. like an alcoholic, we often dont know when, or how, to stop. once we learn, we find its not even that simple! its a life-changing process, with more than one step. and wouldnt you know it? startup culture LOVES quick and easy (and single!) solutions. we are so fucked! i mean not really, but as long as that "way of life" rules the earth, we ARE SO fucked. and i dont just mean geeks like myself hiding on the bottom floor of a building answering the phone to ask if youve "turned it off and on again"-- i mean uber drivers, doordash delivery people, amazon warehouse workers-- the NEW generation of exploited workforce (the coal miners and sweatshop kids and south asian plantation workers and foxxconn suicides arent going anywhere either, we are simply figuring out how to add more categories to those). i mean this is deadly, this is actual slavery, and its shit! by no means am i saying that if you internalise this culture of exploitation, its YOUR FAULT for subjecting yourself to it. i dont blame alcoholics for having alcoholism either. everyone deserves better than that. but for that same reason, we need to look at this insomuch as that drive to dominate ourselves exists, in ourselves. this is not just about "boot camp" or bettering ourselves, this is about signing up for abuse-- from others, from users, from ourselves. self-abuse, whether we call it that or not, is something we would do better to work to minimise, within reason... everytime we get a new tool or toy, there is a temptation so often, for so many, to simply try to double or triple or whatever "what we can accomplish" with it. and i think that spirit of innovation is great. i mean, what if some people wanted to go to the fucking moon, and other people were like, "NO. WE SHOULD JUST VISIT FLORIDA, INSTEAD. THATS GOOD ENOUGH." and i mean, thats is good enough for most people. now what if on the other hand, every time you got a ticket to florida, you said "FUCK THAT! LETS GET IN A FUCKING POD AND HEAD OFF TO MARS!!!" i mean, points for ambition-- maybe we will make it there someday. the thing is, sometimes we should just take a vacation, or a break. and it doesnt come naturally-- workaholism looks at a break or a vacation like an alcoholic looks at a glass of water. okay, i am a dick for this analogy-- its too useful, but im sorry. in my defence, its true on the side im actually making the point on. its not really fair to alcoholics, and we should be. fuck knows ive known many, and there are some truly wonderful people ive admired and been inspired by who were addicted to alcohol or various other things. its a very human thing, we should treat it as such. but to do it one more time in this article, theres no story like hearing someones reached the point of realisation where they wake up in a strange bed and dont know how they got there. burnout, is truly, the workaholic equivalent of THAT. and you shouldnt be ashamed of it (shame is so overused, and so RELATIVELY useless, i mean for every person it actually "helps" there are a thousand others...) but we should LEARN SOMETHING from this. and what we usually learn is "hey! dont do THAT again!" and that really isnt a comprehensive solution that properly address the habit, and so... we shouldnt be surprised when such a platitude fails to change anything. your takeaway from this may be that im a dick for not putting this a better way-- thats okay, that can be what you take from this if you want. your takeaway from this can be that we should stop exploiting people-- thats a great takeaway, but i suppose its obvious enough by itself. your takeaway could be that you should take it easier, and you probably should, but if thats what you think youve probably tried before. the point that i intended here was that its these "shortcuts" that tempt us to behave this way, to treat them as a mandate to "go crazy" with being "MORE PRODUCTIVE" and that this is some kind of PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM we have. like alcoholism, it might simply be too much of something that "most people" can "handle" and getting rid of it isnt necessarily the best thing. (going back to prohibition? no thanks!) i suppose, in SOME CONTEXTS AT LEAST, work is (at this point in the progress of society) MORE ADDICTIVE? and not just as in everybody WANTS SO MUCH WORK, but they FIND THEMSELVES DOING IT. again-- a lot of this is because of straight-up exploitation and people using people. im only talking about the part we "voluntarily" (or subconciously) do to ourselves. my point really was, even less about the effect, and more about just this: the next time you find a shortcut-- which isnt a bad thing in and of itself! you ASK IT how much SHIT its going to make you do once you have it! and the same goes the next time you get a boss-- or a supervisor-- or a group of people you join off hours. or even a friend. we have to learn to cure this addiction. but burnout could be a wakeup call-- its going to happen either way, unless we learn to do a bit less. as useful as a wakeup call can be in turning your life around... have another look at those shortcuts. be aware, they have a dark and ugly side! this is intended humourously-- im writing it on a text editor that is ALSO a shell. its MADE OF SHORTCUTS. and yes, its had the same effect. this article is about WHAT WE DO WITH THAT. and i dont know-- this isnt a definitive text on anything. its just an idea-- LETS CONQUER THE WORLD WITH IT NOW!!! i mean, sorry! lets give it some thought... => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org