Developer Tea

Series kickoff - Post-Pandemic: Work and Life as an Engineer

Episode Summary

In this episode, we kick off a series of episodes about how COVID has and will continue to affect our lives and jobs as software engineers.

Episode Notes

In this episode, we kick off a series of episodes about how COVID has and will continue to affect our lives and jobs as software engineers.

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Episode Transcription

What will happen on the other side of this pandemic and how will it affect me as the software engineer? These are questions that probably all of you have asked at one point or another. We're going to talk about them on the show. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help children developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. And this is a touchy, difficult, and complex topic to talk about. Everyone is familiar with this now. And it's almost surreal that even a year ago, none of us really knew very much about coronavirus at all. It was just another headline amongst a lot of headlines. We haven't discussed the pandemic in much detail on this show, and that's been on purpose for a few reasons. Number one, I'm not an epidemiologist. I'm not a doctor. I'm simply not qualified to talk about virology. I don't have the medical knowledge to make recommendations. There are plenty of other people that you can and you probably should listen to about these things. I want to tread lightly when it comes to areas of concern that affect large groups of people. I don't want to be responsible for giving you advice. Bad medical advice are certainly advice that could be good, but is not necessarily good for you. So you should talk to a doctor if you want to talk about the actual disease. We're not going to really talk about the actual disease. We'll talk about characteristics of it, but we're not going to talk about the actual disease. That's the reason that I've avoided talking about COVID in depth, because it's a politically charged topic for better, for worse, I think probably for worse. I try to stay a big disconnected from politics on this show to avoid creating any unnecessary echo chambers or to avoid adding to existing echo chambers. That's not the goal of this show. We don't really have to talk about politics to accept reality. We don't have to talk about politics to appreciate science, to appreciate progress. That's not necessarily the bend of this show, and it's not going to be in the future. But this is something that viruses do not have political affiliations, and we need to be able to accept that and talk about how it's going to affect us in the future. There's also a lot of lessons that we can learn from this experience. We all have had some experience with COVID. We're going to talk about a lot of the kind of interesting aspects of this experience that we've had together. I want to talk about these interesting factors that have and will continue to affect our work as software engineers. I also want to talk about some of the interesting organizational and group psychology aspects of the virus. Along the way, we're probably going to abstract some of these lessons, some of these mental models, as points of learning that can apply beyond coronavirus. These are going to be mental models that we can use that can go beyond our global pandemic. And into our future, these are lessons, tools that we can put into our tool belt for future issues that we face. Well, first, I want to lay some ground rules and expectations about this discussion, because this is going to be a series. We're going to do more than one episode on this because there's so much to talk about here. First, as I've already mentioned, I'm not a doctor. I'm not going to give medical advice on the show. Anything I say should be considered for the sake of your curiosity, for the sake of thinking about it, considering the ideas, but what I say is not a theoretical information. Please defer to local health authorities, scientific research, et cetera. If you have questions, real questions about this virus and its direct effect on the human body, or if you have questions about, for example, if you are experiencing a sense of depression or through grief of this pandemic, then I'm not a therapist, right? I'm not going to be able to provide therapy for you through this microphone. So please seek the proper kinds of people who have better credentials and the right letters after their name, which I do not have. The second kind of ground rule or expectation I want to set is, I'm not going to spend any time vilifying anybody on this show. I don't think that we need any more of that. I don't want to contribute to that conversation any further. There are plenty of people who are doing that vilifying, and there's a lot of opinions about who has done what right or wrong. The global stage of events is large enough. I'm not going to enlarge it any further. We will not spend any time amplifying it. We're going to speak from a position, again, of curiosity about the cognitive processes, of a group psychology, group dynamics, professional impact that the pandemic has had on the world. So we're going to cover a lot in this series of episodes. And it's going to be a broad range of things. Like for example, we're going to talk about how this is going to affect the workplace, the office. It's not going to be the same, but how different will it be? And how is it going to be different? Most of what we're going to talk about in terms of predictions are just going to be guesses based on reasonable inputs. We're going to try to extrapolate what we know both from previous experiences and from new information that we have. But we're not going to eliminate to the obvious questions, the ones that are likely being covered elsewhere as well. We're going to talk about more of the nuance of how this virus has affected the way that we think. And then of course, some of those models that we were discussing earlier. One of the things that I mentioned already on the shows that we've all had an experience with virus. But, and this is the topic for today's episode, and hopefully a primer for the way that we can think about this collective shared experience. Even though we've had a shared experience, even though everybody in the world, in some form or another, almost certainly has been touched by this virus, not directly necessarily, but the country they live in has been touched by. It's somebody that they know may have had it. Everybody, this is the critical point that I want to make today. Everybody's experience has been different. This is very difficult for our brains to comprehend. It's very difficult for our brains to understand that our individual experience can be drastically different, not just kind of different, but drastically different from someone that we may even know very well, someone that's very close to us. The easiest, obvious difference is somebody who has had COVID versus somebody who has not had COVID. But interestingly, we can find perhaps an even bigger division between two people who have had COVID-1, who is affected deeply, who had very serious symptoms, for example, and another person who had little to no symptoms. Sometimes these people live in the same household. All of these other experiences around them might be very similar, but their perception of what this virus is and how it affects people is going to be drastically different because they have personal experiences that have shaped this overall meta experience for them. This is just another reinforcement of the same thing that we talk about on this show all of the time. While we all have some kind of shared experience, we all are humans on this earth. We all have some kind of overlap in our cultural experiences. Maybe we have overlap in our biological experiences. Everyone does still have a very unique experience of their own. Everyone has a unique perception as a result of that experience. Those experiences are further creating uniqueness in our future experiences. In other words, the way that I experienced COVID, for example, might change the way that I would experience a future illness. This is theoretical. I actually haven't had COVID. That's something I haven't revealed on the show. I have not had COVID. I've had family members that have. If I had COVID and I didn't have severe symptoms, it's possible that this might bolster a false sense of immunity. On the flip side, if I have had COVID and I did have various or very serious symptoms, it might bolster a false sense of fragility for our immune system. These are different ways that experiences can shape our feelings on the other side of this pandemic. It's very important to understand that everybody's experiences are going to be different and also that it's very hard to predict what those differences are in how they're going to affect us in the future. My recommendation or I guess my ask of you as we go forward into this series about COVID and what it's going to be like on the other side of COVID as a software engineer, my request is that first, you reject the notion that we have all had a unifying experience. We have had a unifying experience in the sense that everybody knows about COVID, but the similarities stop pretty quickly. Everybody has had a different experience. Everybody has had a different backdrop for that experience to land on. We need to reject the idea that we all have had the same year. We've all had the same levels of stress. We've all had the same levels of loss. No, this is not true. We all experience things differently. We'll probably talk about some of the kind of strange edges, the edge cases of how this is going to affect the way we think, how certain people probably feel. A perfect example of this is that my wife and I, we actually enjoy being at home, even for extended periods of time. We have two young children. We've enjoyed being able to spend a lot of time with those children. In some ways, COVID has been a forcing function for us to spend time at home with our children. Now there is a sense that we have appreciated this time, but there's also a sense, and I'm just giving you this transparent look into my own unique experience with COVID. There's also a sense of guilt. There's a possibility, I guess, of feeling guilty that we don't want this to end. This not being the pandemic, this not being the sickness of other people, this purely being our time to spend at home with our children. So there's a lot that gets wrapped into this because there's second and third and fourth order effects of the pandemic that are very difficult to tease out and to understand in their granularity. And that's the kind of stuff that we're going to talk about in this series. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea. If you think that this series is going to be interesting and you don't want to miss out on it, encourage you to subscribe whenever podcasting app you're currently using. And if anybody else you know might appreciate this series might be interested in the nuances of how we're coming out of this pandemic, then please send this podcast to them. Having listeners is how a podcast stays alive. This shouldn't come as a surprise if you've listened to many podcasts at all. And there are two ways that we gain listeners, but I guess three ways that we gain listeners. One is by creating consistent good content that people are interested in listening to. Hopefully this fits that bill. The second way is by you actually taking this podcast, listening to it and then sharing it with somebody that you know that we'll appreciate it. And then the third way is that some people are out there just looking for new content. And the best way to help them find that new content, you may not even know who they are, is to leave a review in your favorite podcasting platform. Whether that's iTunes or another platform. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. And until next time, enjoy your tea.