I was at a friends party recently when I started talking to another party-goer, a friend of a friend. We started chatting and things got strange when I told him I worked with computers. “Your brain is just wired differently than mine” he explained “I just don’t think like that”. He then added “I like sailing and surfing and being outdoors”. That’s the point at which I became very confused. Apparently because I work for a tech startup it means that I don’t like being outside and have a different brain. I stopped him and explained that we’re much more similar than he thought. That I used to guide wilderness trips and love camping and hiking. I could see that he was puzzled and so I tried to explain what it is that has enthralled me about learning to code.
The best that I could come up with is that it’s addicting.
He said, “no way, how can it possibly be addicting?”. I explained that it all started three years ago. I had just done a career 180 and was moving from an outdoorsy non-profit to a tech startup. Two weeks in my new company needed extra help for tech support. I ended up answering calls and fixing problems that I didn’t have the answers to, but I survived and kept asking our main developer questions. That was the turning point for me.
It took me another two years to actually try to write code. The first 50-100 hours were the worst. Nothing worked and the output on my screen attested to that by explaining that I had failed in ways I couldn’t even comprehend. PC Load Letter?! Then one day it started to click and I realized that programming is like lots of little puzzles combined into even bigger puzzles. Every time I solved one problem it seemed to open the door to a newer, bigger, and better problem.
When I got home I decided to see if my explanation was actually true. Is programming addictive?
I can tell you that I wasn’t surprised to find out that, yes, programming is indeed addicting. Doing a simple Google search resulted in at least two great articles right off the bat.