Why do programmers even lift bro?
And, how we can improve programming with the answer.
It’s not a universal trope by a long shot, but it’s also particularly common to see software developers—particularly the employed, productive ones—leading very physically active lifestyles. Tech world especially is littered with all kinds of athletic culture, unusual for a profession that revolves around the highly sedentary task of sitting down and poking at a keyboard.
…or is it? *Vsauce music plays*
I trade articles a lot with my colleague Charles. Earlier today he published something cool, entitled The Big Mistakes of VR:
Like most good Substack writers, he makes thorough use of back-referencing to earlier writings of his, building what some might call a corpus of literature. In driving home his thesis though, he hit again on one of his classic pieces, Why Do Programmers Listen to Music?, and since I have become addicted to cycling again, it made me realise that the same sort of thing is at work, but on a more emotional and self-regulatory level.
It didn’t take long to realise that my love of cycling these days wasn’t an accident (it certainly wasn’t a force of habit when I started). The work that I love doing requires spending long periods sitting down, relatively immobile, staring at a screen and poking at a keyboard. It’s not an activity that works the body or the senses.
What I did figure out though is perhaps an alternative solution to the lack of programming-as-a-multi-sensory-experience – a solution of it not as a physics problem, but as a psychological problem. It’s simply hard to stay motivated to do something sedentary. Our bodies weren’t made for it. We didn’t evolve to do this.
However, your underlying body mechanics don’t really care how you become active – it’s merely a higher-order concern that you may want to marry up your multi-sensory evolutionary needs to your primary task at hand. In reality, it’s just as good if you compensate for it – as I do, going outside on the trails, drenched every time I sit down, with tons of sunlight and fresh air soaked up. On the flip-side, this is also the explanation for why drug use is so widespread in tech or finance oriented industries. Those who don’t have the grounding to make it… cheat.
It might seem like a basic observation, but I’m certain that it’s a really big deal. If you compensate for the sedation in healthy ways, it’s unlikely there are even any downsides to it at all. It’s a pretty cool life hack.
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