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Having a "real life"

By Ledge Kindred in News
Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 01:28:08 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Geeks are stereotypically known for their anti-social behaviour like hiding in their room all day banging away at the computer, knocking back the caffeine and Fritos. They are often scared of that really big room with the bright yellow light and the really high blue and white ceiling (sometimes grey with water coming out of it). And they almost never talk to anyone else, unless it's to another geek and over IRC. So what's a geek to do when he/she wants to have a "real life"?

I consider myself a geek. I really enjoy sitting at the computer and goofing around, even if it's just patching and recompiling a kernel. I like playing computer games. I like hacking around with Java and Perl code. I like running my websites. I have a job that requires I spend a good 8 hours a day in front of a computer and I like it that way!

I also believe that I have what other folks might call "a real life." I like to watch TV and go to the movies. I have hobbies other than computers, some of which even take me outside! I rent a house with a yard that I enjoy working in. And probably most important of all, I have a girlfriend who I enjoy spending time with, and who likes it when I spend time with her.

But I can't help sometimes having this feeling that, you know, if there were only about 20 or 30 more hours in the day, I could REALLY get some good coding done and come up with something really cool. Instead, I go to sleep at night (eventually) with this little nagging feeling in the back of my head that I'm just not accomplishing as much as I could be.

Yet, at the same time, I know that I would be very unhappy if I spent every waking hour doing nothing but sitting in a dark room staring at a computer screen. I like spending time with my girlfriend at the park or whatever. I enjoy taking a few hours on the weekend to go outside and mow the lawn, fiddle with my plants, fill the birdfeeder... And not just unhappy, but downright unhealthy. I've done the 60+ hour at the computer work week thing before and it leaves me a shambling zombie. I need that regular downtime.

So what's a geek to do? Is it really a choice between enjoying the things "normal" people do or having that feeling that I've been able to get something done? How do the rest of you manage your time so that you have a good balance of "geek life" and "real life"? (Or do you?) What is a good balance of geek and real life?


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Having a "real life" | 104 comments (102 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
What I do (2.33 / 3) (#1)
by fluffy grue on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 12:06:33 PM EST

I code 'till I get burnt out, then I do other things for a while. Usually it's other geeky things with other geeks (like playing video games or watching anime), but I try to be social about it. Unfortunately, all my friends, being geeks as well, are usually in a coding binge when I'm not. One of those phasing things.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Productive hobbies with a social twist. (3.50 / 2) (#2)
by Boojum on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 12:25:31 PM EST

Well, I for one enjoy some hobbies that are distinctly non-computer related which I use to unwind and forget about whatever current programming challenge I'm grappling with at the moment.

The key thing is though, most of my hobbies still have some end goal or product as a result, plus they are amenable to social interaction. For example, I craft chain maille while watching TV with friends. It has an end result in the finished chain maille which makes me feel like I've done something and haven't wasted my time. (Arguably.) And it's also great in that I can do it while hanging out with friends. Not to mention the Tom Sawyer effect on most people when they see it for the first time! (And some have gotten permanently hooked that way.) And it's definitely a conversation starter.

There are quite a few things like that which work really well like that. Crafts come to mind most easily, but it could be other things too. I've a married couple who do partner juggling. And I know another couple who do some really wonderful unit origami together; it's all over their house and respective offices. They do it while watching TV and movies and hanging out.

Basically, there I like to have other ways to channel that creative energy that are more compatible with social interaction. I get the best of both worlds that way.

Re: Productive hobbies with a social twist. (none / 0) (#7)
by orthox on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 01:29:19 PM EST

Along the same lines you can just plain old do geeky things as a group.

Start a club. Just get people together to build things. (jacob's ladders, gauss rifles, potatoe guns, etc...) Along those lines i'm trying to start a robotics club in Pittsburgh.

Perfect fusion of form and function... You get to be social, and do cool stuff. (We are looking into our first group project.)

P.S.- along the chainmail line. Ever heard of the SCA?

[ Parent ]

Re: Productive hobbies with a social twist. (none / 0) (#36)
by Boojum on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 11:17:14 PM EST

P.S.- along the chainmail line. Ever heard of the SCA?

But of course! Dancing rocks, although my preference is English Country. (xref above post) I haven't been doing SCA as long as chain maille; I just began SCA in February. But I have had a lot of fun with it so far. It was inevitable that I would get sucked in since a lot of my friends, geek, non-geek, and geek-groupies alike are in SCA and run the local chapter (NoMountain).

[ Parent ]
Re: The SCA, muds and mushes (none / 0) (#25)
by mezzo on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:55:27 PM EST

the sca is a fun hobby. if a bit too time consuming at times. but its great to just go out on the weekend, camp in the middle of nowhere and dance an italian renaissance court dance, or watch the fighters and fencers go at it. the last one i went to, i learnt how to make beer and mead and got to taste a bunch of homemade drinks. search sca.org for a group near you! ;)

another thing though, i have spent a lot of my time in muds and mushes. and i don't see why that doesn't constitute as a 'social life'. the conversations that i have in there are no less uplifting, frustrating, enlightening or deep then the conversations i have in 'real life'.


"The avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."-- Kosh
[ Parent ]
I say, run with it. (4.00 / 2) (#4)
by Inoshiro on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 12:29:17 PM EST

True, you can sometimes feel when you're missing your creative edges, but there are times when you need to do nothing. Sometimes, I can just be comming up with ideas constantly, and writing them down is important. Other times I'm not in an idea mood, but will spend hour upon hour implementing something I've written down. And then there are the inbetween times when I spend time doing "normal" things, just waitng for the next creativity or work cycle.

So if you feel like you're not doing all you can, just be patient. You should be able to know what mode you are in. When you're in a creative mood, do your best to be creative -- write things down, think about problems that've puzzled you, etc. And when you feel like you could work for hours, go do it. Later on, you'll be able to look back on your work and feel happy.

[ イノシロ ]
I have to force myself out sometimes... (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by hurstdog on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 12:32:06 PM EST

Lately as I've been working/playing on computers more and more I've noticed that I almost have to force myself out more. Not because I don't want to go out, I get downright sick of being on the computer sometimes. But when I want to go out, I notice its harder to relate to many of my friends, since I'm the only one who is really interested in computers, and I've spent a good portion of the past couple months working with computers instead of hanging out and getting drunk with my friends (which I do and don't want to do at the same time)

I guess what I'm saying is that after spending so much time working with computers and people online it gets hard to relate to people in the real world. And it is a good thing to know how to do, so I have to force myself to work at it, and relate with people on a regular basis. Since that skill is so necessary in today's world.

Re: I have to force myself out sometimes... (none / 0) (#100)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 06:06:54 AM EST

Yeah, I'll go with that. Being social is *hard*. :)

[ Parent ]
The thing to realize (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by error 404 on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 01:25:07 PM EST

is that the creative mind works during what looks like downtime.

If the computer stuff you are doing is creative, and not IO bound, it may well be that your downtime enhances your productivity more than enough to compensate. You may well accomplish more in a balanced week than you would have if you spent the week glued to the system.

When you do your thing, do you pound keys constantly, or do you spend time thinking?

In any case, the goal is to live your life well. And that takes doing what brings you joy. An hour in the garden produces very little value in terms of material output. But it produces an hour in the garden, and really, what could you do with a computer in one hour that is worth an hour in the garden?

But it must be said: I have a horrible backlog of computer projects (at home - I'm reasonably up-to-date at work) that will probably be obsolete before I get to them.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Re: The thing to realize (none / 0) (#28)
by zeb on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 07:00:56 PM EST

If the computer stuff you are doing is creative, and not IO bound, it may well be that your downtime enhances your productivity more than enough to compensate. You may well accomplish more in a balanced week than you would have if you spent the week glued to the system.

Well said. I've found that doing non-computer related things like moving the lawn, fixing my car etc. are real inspiration boosters, and when I do sit down in front of the computer again my head is full of ideas that just beg to be realized. Only problem is that I come up with more ideas than I have time to finish. Oh well.
/ Zeb - Another Mega bytes the dust
[ Parent ]

Having an outside life (2.25 / 4) (#9)
by xslavesx on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 01:39:07 PM EST

I am lucky enough to have a good balance between geek life and regular life. I accomplish this my making just as many non geek friends as geek friends. This forces me to do things like go out to see bands, ride my skateboard around, go to movies and just get away from computers in general. Everytime I feel like I should be doing something more productive with my time, I remind myself that life isn't all work you need to have some fun. Go out and try some things you wouldn't normally do. You will probably find something you like.

Carpe Diem (3.50 / 4) (#10)
by tcaleb on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:00:11 PM EST

I am feeling very stressed out lately. I work a 40+ hour job (non-geek), I am working on getting a website going in my free time, I enjoy writing fiction, and I still want to see my friends. Sleep is gone! I work 4pm-12am, run out and meet some friends, wander home, and work on the website until 8-9 am. I need to work. And although I think I am good with computers, I haven't not found a good geek job. I love the website I am running. I love writing. And I love my friends. And all four of these things are defianatly sacrificed from time to time.

But you have to do what feels right at the time. Sometimes I come home, and all I want to do is code all night. And sometimes, even though I *know* there I are things that need my attention at home, I blow it all off and go to that party I heard about. Many people have pointed out that the best ideas come to you when you are relaxing. I often feel guilty about my lack of accomplishments. But what can you do? Force it? This is not the answer. All you will produce is crap if you do.
--- "Save the whale hunters"

Balance (2.00 / 3) (#11)
by farl on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:18:53 PM EST

Well personally what works for me is to find some balance overall in what I do. I pay attention to what my body wants from me, and while that moght sound cliched, it is a pretty accurate telltale of what is going on physicall, mentally and emotionally in your body.

I work 40+ hours a week in front of a computer and spend a minimum of 20 hours a week in front of my home computer, playstation or some other electronic toy. On the other side, I spend over 20 hours a week in my local bar shooting pool, and get to the beach at least 5 times a week. Its all aobut finding out what you like to do and makin it work. The most important thing I believe is to get some regular exercise. For me its playing racquetball. 12 hours a week over 3 days keeps me in shape and not a potato, and it also picks up my metabolism and gives me more incentive to be energetic and escape from my computer.

I 'd just say listen to what your body wants, and don't worry about what others think are "geek-activities".

Farl farl@sketchwork.com www.sketchwork.com

Caffeine (2.00 / 3) (#12)
by slycer on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:30:44 PM EST

It works wonders. I have a job 8-4:30 in front of a PC. I do get out for an hour and go inline skating at lunch. I also spend ~20 hours a week on my PC at home. I am also married with a young girl (2 years old). It works like this - get home from work at around 5:45pm, spend 2 1/2 hours with my girl and wife, at which time my wife starts the bath/get child ready for bed. I grab a quick hour on the PC. After which I tuck my girl into bed (normally bout a 1/2 hour), then hang with my wife until she goes to bed. Then I hop back on the PC, till at least 1:00 am and then to bed. Drink lots of coffee, rinse, repeat.

Re: Caffeine (2.18 / 11) (#14)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:43:19 PM EST

I am also married with a young girl (2 years old).

Wow, that really takes the term "pedophile" to a new height!

I know, I know, I just couldn't resist... sorry.

[ Parent ]

The cost of anything... (3.40 / 5) (#13)
by Demona on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:30:56 PM EST

...is the foregone alternative. Human life seems all too short by our psychological standards. While true immortality is beyond the scope of most people's sanity or responsibility, I see increased life expectancies as a way of helping slightly reduce the 'frantic' pace of life that most people attribute to 'the modern age'. Nothing is inevitable or constant except entropy. Everything we do that we enjoy, that enriches us and/or others, is worthwhile -- but good time management will always be an essential skill, no matter how long-lived we may become.

Re: The cost of anything... (none / 0) (#73)
by aphrael on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:12:37 PM EST

I see increased life expectancies as a way of helping slightly reduce the 'frantic' pace of life that most people attribute to 'the modern age'.

It would be nice if it worked that way, but there's a corresponding trend which balances it: exposure. People today have the *ability* to do more things than 20 years ago --- so, despite having more time, because there are more things to do, you feel like you have less time.

This is a really hard thing to get a handle on. Everything *individually* is possible --- but taken as a whole, there isn't enough time for it.

[ Parent ]

Maybe you're not a geek! (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by ryry on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 02:44:36 PM EST

Maybe you're a dweeb, dork, nerd, or spaz :-)

I think I have a good balance between dork-dom (I'm not a geek) and real life. I don't participate in coding all that much (used to, and will in the future, but not very much), I don't mess around with Linux or any other open OS (though I keep telling myself I should), and I've never played a single game of D&D (or any pen & paper roleplaying game, for that matter).

I do, however, build computers, maintain my own, keep up to date on current issues and news items in the industry as a whole, play lots of games on my PC, advise my friends on what moves to make regarding their own systems, dream about a T1-wired house, and intern at an Internet start-up.

I also have a healthy social life, which includes a bunch of friends (some of whom are also computer-literate), a girlfriend, an interest in music (bass guitar, drums, turntables), an a whole hell of a lot of partying my ass of at local clubs (for simplicity's sake, let's call them raves).

I can tell you why I'd rather own a GeForce 2 than a Voodoo 5, in full technical detail, and then turn around and discuss the quality of Dieselboy's performance at the HFStival last May. I'll tell you that to burn CD-to-CD you should have your CD-ROM on one IDE port and your CD-R on the other (and why that is, too), and then I'll play you a bass solo (not very well, though :-)

As always, there has to be a balance between work and play, geek and non-geek, intellectual and purely stimulative. For right now I'd say that I'd rather have more of an emphasis on the dork in me than not, simply because I am going through college and need to apply my geek-skills to academia and getting a decent job. But that still doesn't mean I can't put aside a C++ program to go out and party for a night :-)

--too lazy for a .sig--
Totall Offtopic... Sorta. (none / 0) (#16)
by BlacKat on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 03:15:07 PM EST

I'm a geek... I'll admit it! Also, the comment about explaining why you'd get a GeForce2 over a Voodoo5 in full technical detail has me intrigued. I have a GeForce2 32mb and am WAY happy with it... but was wondering why you think it's such a great card? I only got it cause my Voodoo 3 didn't cut it in Asheron's Call (yes, I've played real life AD&D as well) and the GeForce2 came out here in the UK before the V5500 did. Please share your comparisions, and if you don't want to do so here feel free to email me :o) blackat at blackat dot org (yea, yea, under consruction, has been for 6 months!! I'll get around to it when I have time... heh).

[ Parent ]
Re: Totall Offtopic... Sorta. (none / 0) (#21)
by ryry on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:27:39 PM EST

Hehehe, okay then, my reasons are:
  • You'll get a better deal on a GF than on a Voodoo in a few months ... remember you'll only find one brand of 3dfx cards on the shelf (3dfx's own, remember they bought STB and make all their own boards now) while nVidia is free to market to creative, elsa, guillemot/hercules, leadtek, and asus, among others (no more diamond - diamond owns S3 now, or vice versa, either way). competition among its own brand forces the prices of nVidia cards down down down, while 3dfx is free of such competition since it makes the only voodoo boards you'll ever see.
  • The T-buffer: including motion blurring and full screen antialiasing (FSAA), generated a lot of hype when it was announced but 3dfx has very little to show for it in the way of real-world demonstrations. looks pretty, yes, but FSAA at the cost of such a huge performance hit it negates any image quality benefits. while on the other hand ...
  • major game developers (carmack, gabe newell, etc.) have been quoted (don't' have a link :-) as saying T&L (transform & lighting: the process of rendering 3d objects on a 2d monitor) will be the next "big thing" in gaming. only time will tell if this is true, but for now, the GeForce's hardware-based T&L frees up CPU cycles for other game aspects such as AI, physics, collision detection, etc.
  • the damn GeForce card is just plain faster, MHz for MHz, than the Voodoo 5 :-)
  • remember Glide? proprietary APIs don't sit well w/the gaming community .. sure it's now open source but who's using it? anybody? .... thought not :-)
  • all those features, like gigatexel shading (the "GTS" part), cupe mapping, environment- bump mapping, per-pixel shading ... looks damn sweet and runs damn fine and do you see that on a 3dFx card? nope!
  • ...and personally, 3dfx's sudden transformation to a "hardcore" gaming company (oooh, look at the scary faces on the box cover! oh no!), their missing of the last development cycle (when the geforce came out in late 1999, 3dfx didn't have any hardware to counter it), and its competition-eliminating acquisition of STB pretty much soured them in my eyes. and it just so happens that nVidia puts out better cards (although it seems ATI's Radeon is holding its own, as well) so I switched to them (I used ot have a voodoo 2). too little, too late.
  • <shameless plug> Come see more of my rants on 3DAP :-) </shameless plug>

    --too lazy for a .sig--
    [ Parent ]
Re: Totall Offtopic... Sorta. (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 11:57:33 PM EST

The Elsa Gloria II w/64 mb ram is -sweeet- to play quake on. It's based on the geforce2 and is really smooth at 800x600 as well as 1024x768.

[ Parent ]
Getting XFree86 to work is a bitch (none / 0) (#52)
by evilpete on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:03:57 AM EST

I've wasted about 10 hours this week trying to get XFree86 working with my Geforce GTS. The process is not at all straightforward and most of Nvidia's FAQ are full of red herrings.

I got the X server running a couple of days ago, but it is incredibly unstable.

Wish I'd bought a Matrox or Voodoo card.

[ Parent ]
[OT] HFStival (none / 0) (#18)
by DJBongHit on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:05:58 PM EST

and then turn around and discuss the quality of Dieselboy's performance at the HFStival last May.

Ahh... another DC-area resident, eh? :-) How was HFStival this year? I wanted to go, but I ended up visiting my uncle in Tennessee :-p...


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Re: [OT] HFStival (none / 0) (#22)
by ryry on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:29:23 PM EST

mad phat .... the Trancemissions tent was wayyy too crowded for my tastes but the rest of the fest went swimmingly ... I used to enjoy RATM but now I am a die-hard fan, they are one fargin' awesome live act!!

--too lazy for a .sig--
[ Parent ]
Quality Time (4.70 / 3) (#17)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 03:54:20 PM EST

By all means everyone should get a real life -- friends, romance, eventually family, decent living accommodations, physical activities, non-computer, non-work interests. I find the balance I have been able to achieve lately has enabled me to be better in my work/computer activities. Like others, however, I have found that there are too few hours in the day. What I have been forced to do is eliminate the low-value-added activities. For me that means:
  1. Virtually no TV (except for non-rerun Sunday nights on Fox).
  2. No alcohol except for special occassions (and "evening" doesn't count as one).
  3. No aimless surfing -- /. and k5 are the only sites I hit regularly. Otherwise, all my online time is to get answers to specific questions or to keep up to speed on selected technologies.
  4. No gaming -- am giving my younger brother Q3A (I know, this is a hard one!)
  5. Carry reading material wherever I go and force myself to read during dead time.
  6. More or less stop "hanging out" with slacker friends.
  7. Never sleep late or nap, but never stay up too late unnecessarily.
  8. Exercise regularly.
I sound like a real fun guy, right? Well. it has been the only way I have been able to (i) spend adequate time with my wife and kids (old fogey alert!), (ii) deal with a long commute and (iii) devote sufficient time to non-work programming projects.

Re: Quality Time (1.00 / 1) (#45)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 02:31:20 AM EST

By all means everyone should get a real life -- friends, romance, eventually family, decent living accommodations, physical activities, non-computer, non-work interests
Why in the hell I should get romance and eventually family? I'm perfectly comfortable with my way of meeting women. A permanent relationship is totally out of question. I cannot (and don't want to) tolerate any one person for long enough to possibly form a family.

[ Parent ]
Just make sure... (1.80 / 5) (#19)
by 3than on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:18:15 PM EST

Make sure to put aside some time for some introspection. Make sure with all that living, you still have time for LSD or another powerful hallucinogen, like mescaline or psylocibin. It's worth it. Trust me. Just ask Aldous Huxley.

Re: Just make sure... (none / 0) (#64)
by ameoba on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 12:59:07 PM EST

Well, if you wanna get into that, I'd say that DXM, aside from the whole brain damage / severely fucking (is this word kosher?) up your Life (social, emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual, perceptual...) is much more suited to the 'geek psyche'.
You have just finished a heavy session of electro-shock therapy, and you feel more relaxed than you've been in weeks(?). Feel all those childhood trauma's magically lifted away, along with most of your personality.

All I can say is that those nine months (and the subsequent 1.5 yr or so of rehab/re-adjustment) of either being at the third plateau or waiting to feel normal enough to dose myself again, have made me the person I am today.

<small>(besides, what could be better than hacking your own brain?)</small>
Am I proud of it?  Only a little bit. 
Would I do it again?  Hell no. 
Is it something recommend?  I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemies. 
Was it worth it?  Every minute. 

The quest for self is never easy. The task is not made any easier by destroying the basis of what you believe to be thought and self; Reinstalling an OS is nothing compared to reteaching yourself rational thought.

Somehow, I need to fit a link to Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer in here.

I now thoroughly understand difference between the brain-as-meat and the brain-as-mind. I've learned how the 'other side' lives (you know those people that we've always looked down on: the drop-outs, the druggies, the social butterflies, the fashion plates, the not-to-terribly intelligent, the party animals, and the downright insane <small>none of these classifications are mutually exclusive</small>). Not only have I been with them, I have been them. For two months when I was homeless, everyone I knew were gang members, drug dealers, petty criminals, and other homeless. At 20, I was the oldest; yet this 'street trash' as my parents called me/them, were the only people willing to open up enough to me to take me into their lives, and into their world.
How many among us could honestly find themselves acknowledging the dirty gutter punk spanging for cigarette/food/coffee money at the bus depot? Giving him change? Asking him for a favor?
       A friend in need... 
Maybe, due to the drugs, I'm not, nor will I ever again have as much raw intelligence as I once did; But I gained something just as important. I've gained perspective. I no longer feel like I'm just a member of some small group. I'm a member of the human race.

[ Parent ]
Drug use qua Real Life (none / 0) (#89)
by ciole on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:55:50 PM EST

While not directly disagreeing with any of the previous posters on this subthread, i do have some reservations. Well, i do directly disagree with one statement; DXM, like all dissociatives and anticholinergenics, sucks. :P

Seriously, one can go too far in associating psychedelics with any kind of experience or culture. Homeless kids and gangs don't even have exceptionally high rates of use. Nobody does. It's an egalitarian phenomenon. Even geeks.

Speaking of which, i don't really think of LSD or any psychoactive as a conceivable source of, or substitute or cognate for self-knowledge which might otherwise be gained by interpersonal interaction, contemplation, new experiences (adventure?), etc. These things really need to exist, in some context and manifestation, for any experience (enhanced or not) to be meaningful, at least to me. They are complements, if that. So telling people who might be looking for a way out of a reduced, possibly worked-centered life, optimised like a tight inline subroutine by years of accumulated habit that a psychoactive is an option is like suggesting salt or butter, but no potato, to cure hunger.

Raves, on the other hand, are a great suggestion. Go. Meet people. Try to dance if you never had before. Great for stretching to reduce RSI.

Something i've noticed in real life i have also seen in art: Microserfs, by douglas coupland. Remember when he was addressing this very issue, in the kayak bit? If not, try reading it. books are good too.

Funny, i'm posting this at 10 pm after 12 hours of work at my start-up. don't listen to me, what do i know. just occured to me. :)


[ Parent ]
My secret (4.30 / 3) (#20)
by Rand Race on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:21:48 PM EST

I've found that a good job is the secret. I don't just mean 'pays well', I mean a job where you can do all of your favorite geek things on their time. I'm a sysadmin for a medium sized advertising agency and have worked hard at getting everything working correctly, now I just fix 'em when they break and spend the rest of my work time (~30 hrs a week) coding, surfing, gaming, and just generally geeking out. After 50-60 hours of computers I'm more than happy to do non-geek things when I get home.

I usually spend at least 20 hours a week on cars (Just started my new project, a restoration of a 1970 Dodge Challenger 340) which is really just another, non-computer mostly, kind of geekiness. I dink about in the yard of my small cottage for a few hours a week and I hang out with friends on Friday and Saturday nights (geeks on Fridays and girl(s) on Saturday usually). I don't watch TV much except for Car shows (why can't they have 'classic computer garage'?) and Red Dwarf, and I make myself read at least one fiction novel (Heritics of Dune by Frank Herbert currently) and one non-fiction book (The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes is next... I fear it ;) every month. This all leaves just enough time for some hiking on sundays. I, for one, can't complain much.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

This is it. (3.50 / 2) (#29)
by static on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 07:13:55 PM EST

It is a terrible indictment of the IT industry when a lot of the tech jobs want to pay you for 35 hours, but have you working for 55. No way.

After considerable searching, I found a small e-commerce company where I can work my 35 hours. Period. Outside of work, I don't turn my home PC on every night. I play in a church band. I watch TV. I'm learning Japanese. I'm intending to join a camera club. I sleep well most nights. :-)


[ Parent ]

Re: My secret (none / 0) (#78)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:51:29 PM EST

Hell yes, Mopar rules. There's just something special about vintage Mopar muscle that Ford or Chevy doesn't have. I'm a true-blue Ford guy but I'll always have a special place in my heart for Mopar.

[ Parent ]
Re: My secret (none / 0) (#82)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 04:50:43 PM EST

Gotta be a big block if it's a Mopar. 440 six-pack, yeah bay-bee

[ Parent ]
Balance/burnout (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by frood on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:34:49 PM EST

This posting comes at a time when I've been considering this particular topic rather a bit. I've been a geek my whole life: started programming at 5, hacking UNIX at 12, and have been a Solaris Sysadmin at a major corporation since age 18. Now I'm 22, and have been immersed in this for quite a long time by any standards. I fell into a trap for a while where I would berate myself for not feeling like hacking some perl after coming home from a long day of work. I wanted to get out and experience rather than spend my time on intellectual pursuits for once, and actually felt guilty for it. (I'm not living up to my potential, etc, ad nauseam.) After a while, I realized that what I had been experiencing was simply burnout. Finally, the realization struck me that there is an awfully big universe out there, and the scope of what I am doing (no matter how important in my personal reality) was truly infinitessimal. So, I stopped the self-guilt. I listened when my friends suggested things to do. I started pursuing new outdoor activities. I pared my working hours down to a firm 40. I stepped beyond the geek stereotype which I had wrapped my whole life around. The story has a happy ending: now, I find increased vigor and attentivness in my adminly duties at work, and I can actually relax when I'm not there. Computers stay at work. Amusingly, this balance has actually led to some interesting developments in my geek life... I've taken my writing hobby to a new level by writing monthly articles published in various UNIX mags, and even contributed to a recent book, "Solaris Solutions for Systems Administrators". It's amazing what you can accomplish with a little perspective, and a little more time to simply relax.

So, my answer would be don't choose sides (i.e. 'geek' or 'normal'). Simply find the richest balance possible between the two, and don't look back. After all, to quote Buckaroo Banzai, "Wherever you go, there you are."


I feel your pain :) (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by Emacs on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:42:32 PM EST

It's all about balance and setting priorities. I have found what works best for me and I stick with it. I really don't think there is a cut and dried formula for any one geek out there. We all have to find what works best for us.

For me I have found that when I take a week or two and do nothing but work and hack I don't get much more done than when I just devote 3-4 nights a week to hacking. It seems like when I have more time for it I relax a bit more and get less done, but when I only have limited time I can really focus and get things acomplished. I also enjoy hacking more when I don't think about it all the time. Sometimes just reading a good non-techy book can recharge my batteries, or a nice dinner with some non-techy friends.

My problem tends to be more along the lines of what I want to do with those hacking hours. I like to spend time on my little software project but I also enjoy just spending time mucking about all the neat stuff that my latest linux install has to offer. There just isn't enough time to play with all the neat stuff that's out there today.

Looking back (3.50 / 2) (#26)
by Neuromancer on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 05:05:11 PM EST

Yeah, if I made more time for my friends when I was younger, I'd be a happier man now. Of course, I wouldn't be as successful. Screw it dude. I think that it was Thoreau who said "Don't be a great man, just be a man." Meaning that the great don't get to enjoy their life. Of course, those of us destined to write history will have it burning in our souls until we do so. So, it's all a question of your goals.

Re: Looking back (none / 0) (#55)
by forgey on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:15:54 AM EST

I don't think that's what he meant by that statement. I believe he was trying to say; Don't try to be great, just be yourself and what will come is greatness.


[ Parent ]
Interesting Thought (none / 0) (#83)
by Neuromancer on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 04:58:13 PM EST

Yeah, that's another thought.

[ Parent ]
Re: Looking back (none / 0) (#92)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 12:31:23 AM EST

I'm sorry, you're both wrong. The meaning of the statement is quite clear. You don't have to win wars or elections or be famous or whatever, just grow some balls and use them to live the way you think is right.

[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0) (#103)
by Neuromancer on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 04:28:38 PM EST

That's sort of what I meant. But like, the transcendentalists were never big on success as we refer to it anyways.

[ Parent ]
Drink, Smoke (2.30 / 7) (#27)
by davidu on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 06:33:53 PM EST

I recommend smoking a lot of weed and drinking lots of beer. Makes the transition from geek to person *much* easier. :)


Re: Drink, Smoke (3.70 / 3) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 10:49:37 PM EST

Oh yeah, I'll just bet that being continually stoned and drunk makes you a better person. But by all means, continue... it'll make it that much easier for intelligent people to avoid you.

[ Parent ]
Re: Drink, Smoke (none / 0) (#46)
by KindBud on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:02:15 AM EST


just roll a fatty

[ Parent ]
Re: Drink, Smoke (none / 0) (#77)
by f-bomb on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:42:17 PM EST

I'll agree with the drinking part. Go out to a bar and drink a few beers. Once you get enough liquid courage in you, it's really easy to talk to people. You might make an ass of yourself a few times, but then you get known as "the guy who gets messed up and makes an ass of himself" and people start liking you for being a source of entertainment.
-sex is like air, its not important unless you aren't getting any.
[ Parent ]
"Real life" is a lie (5.00 / 7) (#30)
by 0xdeadbeef on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 07:32:52 PM EST

There is no real distinction between "real life" and geeky pursuits. If geeky pursuits are what you enjoy, then that is your life. To believe otherwise is to be ashamed of yourself, getting suckered by the lies of marketers and pop culture.

Of course, it sounds like your issue isn't between geekiness and the mundane, it's more between your ambition and the little things that don't seem to matter much until you consider not doing them in favor of satisfying that ambition.

Re: "Real life" is a lie (none / 0) (#43)
by nzkoz on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:58:11 AM EST

Here here! I'm a geek in many fields (With computers I'm an OS wh0re and I'm a Straight A economics student) but I still manage to go out and party. However I do it because I want to not because the TV/internet says I should. If you do anything for that reason you are surrendering your mind and your independant judgement to 'the establishment'. That's a sin much worse than 'geekiness'
Best Regards Michael Koziarski
[ Parent ]
hear here heer (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 11:18:24 AM EST

It's "hear, hear", not "here, here". *sigh*

[ Parent ]
Re: hear here heer (none / 0) (#91)
by nzkoz on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 11:57:15 PM EST

This is true. The message was typed at work (helpdesk<shudder>) while on a call. I promise I won't do that again :)
Best Regards Michael Koziarski
[ Parent ]
Re: "Real life" is a lie (none / 0) (#81)
by Sterling on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 04:34:03 PM EST

You left yourself so open for a Matrix spoof, I just couldn't resist. Many apologies.

"Real life is a lie, an illusion to prevent you from seeing the truth. Power up your computer, Neo, and log in."

*** Connected to #Morpheus as user Neo ***

Morpheus> Welcome to the Real World.

Again, apologies. :-)

-Sterling -Code is life. Everything else is just preprocessing.
[ Parent ]
Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#31)
by torpor on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 09:02:53 PM EST

Get out, get some exercise, look at some nice people, enjoy yourself.

Raves are good too, if you just wanna go out and not worry about fitting in too much. A lot of the raver culture is *Very* geeky, and caters to the same sort of rules that geek culture does.

I get most of my exercise at clubs. And no, I don't do drugs or alcohol - just go to dance and be out (drink lots of water too). You don't actually have to be bent in order to enjoy a good night at a club or a rave...

j. -- boink! i have no sig!
Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#32)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 09:30:01 PM EST

I find it difficult to believe that you have ever been to a rave (at least a good one.) Every rave I have gone to I have seen everyone rolling; the only people that aren't are doing an expose for Dateline, 60 minutes, or 20/20. Most clubs are the same way too. Why do you think people can dance until 6 or 7 in the morning, and if they are really going until 9 a.m..

[ Parent ]
Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#40)
by caine on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 12:48:42 AM EST

The combination Raving & No drinking & No drugs is pretty usual in Sweden, so I don't find it very impossible. Admittely, there still is a LOT who do drugs.


[ Parent ]

Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#47)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:48:40 AM EST

Without a doubt, you can go to parties even if everyone else is rolling and still have a good time. But it goes back to simple fact that humans are social animals. It'll suck if you go alone. [; Unless you are stupidly good at making friends or don't mind talking to mostly people that are on lots of drugs.

[ Parent ]
Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#80)
by torpor on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 04:28:38 PM EST

I've been to plenty of raves, and yes, there are usually a lot of people getting very chemically inclined.

That's not my point - my point was that it's possible to get out to these places and enjoy yourself, and not feel like you *have* to do drugs to participate. A lot of geeks, taking my advice, would probably feel like they had to do drugs to get out there - this is not the case.

Because you don't have to do drugs to enjoy a night out. I don't, and I go out clubbing every weekend here in LA, after hours mostly... I'm fortunate that I know enough people in the scene now to be able to have a really good time socially without having to get blotto, too.

The original article was regarding how to 'get a life'. My suggestion was merely to get out, go clubbing, listen to some good electronic music (a lot of geeks I know are really into electronic music), and get a chance to look at some really cool (hot!) people while you're at it.

j. -- boink! i have no sig!
[ Parent ]
Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#90)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 10:23:36 PM EST

I recognize that the article is about how to balance a social life with work (or introduce a social life into work.) My point, however, is that an environment that is extremely condusive to drug usage combined with people intimidated by socializing will be more inclined to start a habit simply out of a need to fit in. Another point is that instead of just "look[ing] at some really cool (hot!) people," by using drugs someone already intimidated by a social scene will be more willing to try something (like E.) So, in short, clubbing and raves may suit those who are adapted to normal social behavior, however an absence of social skills may lead to something very dangerous.

In case you are curious, I am a well-adapted geek who occasionally uses drugs (Marijuana and E.) I work 60-70 hours a week and I have managed to fit in a beautiful girlfriend (think Sarah Michelle Gellar,) and great friends. -e

[ Parent ]
Damn right (none / 0) (#48)
by spiralx on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 05:04:13 AM EST

Yeah, I love going clubbing as well, nothing quite beats a night of pure physical effort with absolutely no thought required after coding all damn week :)

OTOH, I do do drugs, but I think that's a matter of personal preference and certainly not related to the amount of fun it is - I just have trouble dancing for eight hours non-stop without them :)

Looking foward to the weekend when I'm going out clubbing for my birthday up to London for a night of great acid/minimal techno. The week seems so long...

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Parent post is a troll (1.00 / 1) (#54)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:12:52 AM EST

`spiralx' has never been outside his home his whole life. Sadly, this young man is a quadrapalegic bubble-boy who would die a horrible death if exposed to everyday life. As a result, he often mistakes his fantasies for reality and posts them to Slashdot.

Dance, boy? You've got no legs.

[ Parent ]
Re: Go clubbing. (none / 0) (#53)
by ryry on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:10:12 AM EST

Couldn't agree more. It's surprising just how many computer geeks are in the rave scene, which just makes it that much cooler in my eyes :-)

--too lazy for a .sig--
[ Parent ]
Some things to think about (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by joshv on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 10:34:05 PM EST

Be yourself, do what you want to do, follow your interests down whatever path they take you.

Remember always that:
- We are social animals. Regular human contact should be part of any healthy life. There are plenty of people that will accept you as you are, find them, and spend 'quality' time with with them.
- If you are a truly creative person, there will NEVER be enough time to do all you want to do. Get accustomed to this now, and try to waste as little time as possible.
- Focus. Pick the few things you know you like best, and stick to them.
- Make long term goals and stick to them. Keep a to-do list for all of your projects. Carmack does it.


Re: Some things to think about (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 02:38:17 PM EST

Focus. Pick the few things you know you like best, and stick to them. This is an *amazingly* difficult thing to do. In school, my attention span was about 4-5 weeks; I could barely deal with quarter classes and semester classes were impossible. At work, my attention span tends to be 4-5 months, and then I lose interest and have to go learn/do something else. For hobbies, it varies; the longest i've ever stuck with something is 4 months. The problem is that there's always something else which is more interesting than what i'm doing now --- sort of a 'grass is always greener' syndrome, except that it's driven by a desire to understand --- i understand, sort of, what i'm doing, but i don't understand that other thing, and i want to. *sigh*

[ Parent ]
I'm toast? (4.40 / 7) (#34)
by kkeller on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 10:42:29 PM EST

After a hard week/day of playing geek at work, I come home, get into my holodeck, and pretend that the entire Enterprise-D crew is completely enamored with me. It's an excellent stress-reliever.

Re: I'm toast? (none / 0) (#39)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 12:45:05 AM EST

oh, someone moderate this up!!

That's the funniest thing I've heard all week. :)

I didn't expect a Barklay reference. :)

[ Parent ]

Uhmm... This isn't /. . Anyone can moderate. (4.00 / 1) (#95)
by TheDullBlade on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:05:25 AM EST

See that little box under the post that says "none", click on that to moderate.
Visit Boswa Bits, now with 99% less evil!
[ Parent ]
Re: Uhmm... This isn't /. . Anyone can moderate. (none / 0) (#101)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 08:46:18 AM EST

But only if you are logged in... unless I'm missing something.

[ Parent ]
Quit work (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by Dacta on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 11:45:13 PM EST

It's great - makes a huge difference to the number of things you can do in a day.

I'm working 2 days a week now. I'm making as much as almost all my friends, but I get time to hack interesting stuff 3 days a week (if I feel like it), work hard 2 days a week and I'm not too tired to hand out with friends, either.

I've been doing this for a few months now.. I'm getting a little bored, I guess, so maybe I'll take a proper job if I can find something interesting.

Still, it's worth trying for a while. I'd recommend it to anyone!

Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#44)
by kkeller on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 02:29:49 AM EST

Yeah, except some of us have to pay bills, you know! Houses don't just pay for themselves!

[ Parent ]
Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#58)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 10:39:40 AM EST

There was a little vignette in Douglas Coupland's Gen X that went something like "Dad, I can have a house or I can have a life, and I'm having a life!" :)

[ Parent ]
Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#50)
by Boojum on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 08:24:42 AM EST

What are you doing for those two days per week that lets you get away with it?

[ Parent ]
Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#51)
by forgey on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 08:52:24 AM EST

Want to give me that companies name? I'd gladly move to working 2 days a week but continue getting paid very well :)

Seriously, I wouldn't mind at all.


[ Parent ]
Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#56)
by Nuff on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:39:10 AM EST

I'm doing exactly the same thing as you are. Currently I'm a linux/unix sys admin and I've decided to do some thing diffrent. I have saved up a bunch of money and I'm quiting my job on 31 of July. I'm not going to do any work for about a month, all I'm going to pursue mine own hobbies and interest, which includes learning stuff about computers.

After one month I'm going to contract 10 hours a week to my previous employers (which I have already organised) for about 2 months. After that I'm going to contract for 6 months and I'm going to save as much cash as posible, and then go back packing around eourope for 6 months during the summer months with 2 of my best friends.

I've decided to do this after i realised that I'm burning out and that I need a change fast in my life style. I'm going to stick to this plan no metter what and nothing is going to stand in my way :)

There is only one downside to this plan, I'm not going have access to any computers for 6 months, but I think its worth it any way.

I'm 23year old who lives in Australia and has neglected his friends for quiet a while. Hopefuly every thing is going to change. I also have done 60+ hour work days, often working on weekends for 30 hours straight.

[ Parent ]
Strange similarities.. (none / 0) (#93)
by Dacta on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 12:37:55 AM EST

I'm in Australia, too... Adelaide to be exact. Where are you?

I was going to do the Europe thing, but my girlfriend has just taken a new job and didn't want me to go by myself.

[ Parent ]

Re: Quit work (none / 0) (#67)
by dattaway on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:31:26 PM EST

You don't have to quit work completely. Do something like buy a motorcycle and ride places. Get a crotch rocket. You'll have a blast. Trust me! Do what other people do and realize work is just a necessary evil to fund one's personal hobbies. Its OK to take pride your job, but not to the point it kills you. Say goodbye to that pale, white skin!

[ Parent ]
Get a bike, but... (none / 0) (#105)
by Stormbringer on Sat Jul 22, 2000 at 01:26:34 AM EST

definitely take the MFS course (Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the name might be different where you live but the course should be equivalent) as soon as you've got helmet and gloves. It'll teach you stuff you can't get from buddies or websites or magazines, stuff about staying alive.
I had no choice when I started riding: I had a bike and I needed to go to places like work, so I basically learned motorcycling on the streets of LA, but there're a coupla times where, if I hadn't had someone looking out for me, I would've bought it. I would've learned the good habits a lot sooner if I'd been able to take the course.
Oh, and do start out with helmet on even if it's not required where you live. You can take it off later when you're sure you know what you're doing, but most motorcycle fatalities involve riders who're in their first six months of riding. There's nasty road rash on the chin guard of my first helmet, and I'm a decent rider. Learning to look for and avoid hazards takes time; the penalty for failure is eating gravel.

[ Parent ]
Consider yourselves lucky! (none / 0) (#41)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:18:57 AM EST

Man at least some of you guys have girlfriends. Your life isn't as screwed up as mine is. The closest I have gotten to a girl is a kiss in a game of spin the bottle. I had no social life when I was young and I took friends for granted. Man Am I sorry i did that. Now the only people I even talk to are at work and they are not really friends since I managed to have alienated all of them. Funny how my logic of becoming a geek when I was young in expectance of becoming rich when I was older didn't pay of. O well, thats life i guess

Re: Consider yourselves lucky! (none / 0) (#68)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:32:05 PM EST

it's not to late

[ Parent ]
Re: Consider yourselves lucky! (none / 0) (#84)
by mezzo on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 05:23:00 PM EST

well, you can still change your situation. go find new hobbies. start with your computer, log into different chatrooms. join a swing dancing class. jog in the mornings (get a dog, the cuter the dog, the more girls will swarm over you). ask for a transfer to a different department. if you like reading, read in a public park, more chances of meeting people there ("oooh, i thought i was the only person who like that author."). learn a new musical instrument. join a volunteer program, like those 'habitat for humanity' projects that build houses for people, great exercise, and great way to meet people. if the above activities don't appeal to you, i'm sure there are others you could do as well... i hope things will get better.

"The avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."-- Kosh
[ Parent ]
Re: Consider yourselves lucky! (none / 0) (#98)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:37:56 AM EST

It's not too late man. Maybe we can start a support club for lonely geeks.

[ Parent ]
Henry Rollins knows you (none / 0) (#102)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 09:06:17 AM EST

I know you
You are too short
You had bad skin
You couldn't talk to them very well
Words didn't seem to work
They lied when they came out of your mouth
You tried so hard to understand them
You wanted to be part of what was happening
You saw them having fun
And it seemed like such a mystery
Almost magic
Made you think that there something wrong with you
You'd look in the mirror trying to find it
You thought you that were ugly and that everyone was looking at you
So you learned to be invisible
To look down
To avoid conversation
The hours, days, weekends
Ahh the weekend nights alone
Where were you, in the basement, in the attic
In your room, working some job
Just to have something to do, just have a place to put yourself
Just to have a way to get away from them
A chance to get away from the ones that made you feel so strange and ill at ease inside yourself
Did you ever get invited to one of their parties
You sat and wondered if you would go or not
For hours you imagined the scenarios that might transpire
They would laugh at you
If you would know what to do
If you would have the right things on
If they would notice that you came from a different planet
Did you get all brave in your thoughts
Like you were going to be able to go in there and deal with it and have a great time
Did you think that you might be the life of the party
That all these people were going to talk to you, and you would find out that you were wrong
That you had a lot of friends
And you weren't so strange afterall
Did you end up going
Did they include you
Did they single you out
Did you find out that you were invited because they thought that you were so weird
Yeah I think I know you
You spent a lot of time full of hate
A hate that was pure as sunshine
A hate that saw for miles
A hate that kept you up at night
A hate that filled your every waking moment
A hate that carried you for a long time
Yes I think I know you
You couldn't figure out what they saw in the way they lived
Home was not home, your room was home, a corner was home
The place they weren't that was home
I know you
You're sensitive and you hide it, because you fear getting stepped on one more time
It seems that when you show a part of yourself
That is the least bit vulnerable someone takes advantage of you
One of them steps on you
They mistake kindness for weakness
But you know the difference, you've been the brunt of their weakness for years
And strength is something you know a bit about
Because you had to be strong to keep yourself alive
You know yourself very well now
And you don't trust people
You know them too well
You try to find that special person
Someone you can be with
Someone you can touch
Someone you can talk to
Someone you won't feel so strange around
And you found that they don't really exist
You feel closer to people on movie screens
Yeah I think I know you
You spend a lot of time day dreaming
And people have made comment to that effect
Telling you that your self-involved, and self-centered
But they donít know do they
About the long night shifts alone
About the years of keeping yourself company
All the nights you wrapped your arms around yourself
So you could imagine someone holding you
The hours of indecision
The intense depression
The blinding hate
The rage that made you stagger
The devastation of rejection
Well, maybe they do know
But if they do
They sure do a good job of hiding it
It astounds you how they can be so smooth
How they seem to pass through life
As if life itself was some divine gift
And it infuriates you to watch yourself
With your apparent skill and finding every possible way to screw it up
For you life is a long trip
Terrifying and wonderful
Birds sing to you at night
The rain and the sun
The changing seasons are true friends
Solitude is a hard won ally
Faithful and patient
Yeah I think I know you

It's much better with the music though.

[ Parent ]
Choose Life (none / 0) (#49)
by psy on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 05:52:25 AM EST

I work 40 hours a week as a sys. admin. I try to stay in a couple of nights a week in order to learn new things (Linux & Perl currently) and I am constantly reading some IT book. I have plenty of friends, a girlfriend & an active social life. Sometimes I will barely touch my home computers for a couple of weeks at a time. I think it is very important to go out & have a good time (I'm 26 for god's sake)....plus I work much harder on the Monday following a good weekend. I do feel guilty for not doing more, but however much I love computers and technology, they are no substitute for a normal life.

My answer is.. (none / 0) (#57)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:56:25 AM EST

My answer: Go back to geek training school for reprogramming and forget about this r/l nonsense!

A secret that I'd wish I'd been told... (3.30 / 3) (#59)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 10:48:25 AM EST

I'm 38 now, and have been a geek in some form [electronic/radio/computers] all of my life. There's a secret that I wish someone had told me when I was young enough to have made a difference.

You only have so much time left. And, you won't be as healthy as you are right now for all of it.

I thought I would be young and healthy forever, and die from some catastrophic illness when I got older, as did most of my family. That ain't gonna be the case; I have several chronic illnesses, any of which may take my life, even today. When I look at the time I've spent sitting in front of a monitor, I feel cheated. I should have made more friends, dated more women, taken more chances, risked more, enjoyed life more. It's not just that it seems precious right at the end; I might live another ten years. It's that I no longer have a choice about sitting in front of a monitor. My failling health simply won't allow much more physical exertion than that. Your situation is very different. I hope that it doesn't turn into mine, but that doesn't negate the point; programming is great, but life is meant to be lived a little. Step away from that computer, and go socialize.

Your Life is Bloatware! (none / 0) (#60)
by hoss10 on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 11:05:25 AM EST

<humour (I hope)>

As an AC ^H^H AH said:
> Go back to geek training school for
> reprogramming and forget about this r/l nonsense!

TV, DIY etc. are just more bloat in your BrainKernel


Seriously, I don't think TV and cinema (still vegging in front of a screen) count as real life.

Your missing stuff like sports and drinking!

Find new friends (none / 0) (#62)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 12:48:31 PM EST

Me, I'm very much into computer and into anything that has to do with technology (electrical,engineering). I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for my friends, most of them all they know about computer is the on/off button, they hate those things. Personally when I'm with someone that likes computers, sometimes it begins to drive me nuts because that's all we ever talk about, but with these friends the topics range from girls to cars to whatever, rarely does it ever get to computers. I have a job where I sit in front of the computer all day, seriously though I haven't touched my home computer for over 2/3 months, because I'm always busy with my friends. My girlfriend doesn't even like computers. So what I'm trying to say is, get friends that aren't that heavily into computers and you find yourself getting more into their interests and then you tottally forget you even have a computer at home even though you have to work with one 40 hours / week.


Real life is overrated. (4.00 / 3) (#65)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:04:22 PM EST

Most people's idea of being sociable seems to involve pickling their brains in ethanol and suffering the next day. Most people's conversation seems to consist of conversations about the last time they tried to pickle their brains. It's funny - I seem to have gone the opposite way to other people. When I was a student I completely gave up computers and used to pickle my brain all the time (and a little tetrahydrocannabinol didn't go amiss from time to time) but over the years I got bored of it. Now I just like to be sociable a couple of times a week and enjoy hacking and reading the rest of the time. I still have a lovely wife and I'm lucky to have one of the coollest jobs money can buy but honestly I'd quite like to spend most of my life curled up with a good book, a wired laptop and the occasional visitor.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as some would like (4.70 / 3) (#66)
by slynkie on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:24:58 PM EST

I'm gonna take this opportunity to rant a bit and relate my own current story/cry for attention...

Yea, I'm a geek, spend tons of time in front of my computers and learning and reading etc etc etc.
I also quite enjoy mt. biking, hiking, frisbee, and just being outside in general.

A few years ago, I transferred to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY...almost right away, I met a wonderful girl, and we dated for almost 1.5 yrs. Problem was, the only people I knew were her and her friends.

When we broke up a few months ago, I was left here in Poughkeepsie (for those who don't know, it's not the most exciting place on earth) knowing basically no one. Since then, I've been doing my best to go out and meet people, and just in general be a social person. Here's the problem though...I am not, by nature, a social person. I don't dig the bar scene, I don't dance, and I'm far from the physically-appealing frat boy style that most people around here seem to look for in a friend.

So, in my quest for friendship, I do what I know. I goto a local cofeeshop, read, hang around, basically hoping that someone will find me interesting looking enough to actually start a conversation with me. yea, pretty lame, i know. On the rare occasion that I actually start a conversation myself, it goes well, but all it is is a conversation.

My point in all of this is that for at least some people, it's not just a matter of -wanting- to make friends. Some of us can't just snap our fingers and have a wonderful social life; it's something that we have to work on, and it's something that quite often causes us to work against the things that we're used to or that are a part of us (tendency to want to be alone; shacked up with a linux box; shyness; depression; etc)...it also gets me into a rant that i'm quite fond of concerning how even "open" people don't really seem to be as "open" to others as they preach, but that's for another time.

Welp, i've dogged on myself and bored you all enough, so here's the end =)

keep it funky,

jsalit at earthlink.net

Re: Unfortunately, it's not as easy as some would (none / 0) (#86)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 06:51:32 PM EST

not the most exciting place? with all those Vassar babes?

[ Parent ]
Meet people by joining group activities. (none / 0) (#94)
by TheDullBlade on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 12:57:37 AM EST

Geez, you're not going to meet many people by sitting around alone in coffee shops. Find an interesting club and join it, you'll end up talking with dozens of people you share common interests with, and making friends is easy under those conditions.

There are probably a hundred interesting clubs in any city, from telescope astronomy to judo to anime, all looking for new members.

BTW, if you want to meet some really nice chicks, try doing some charity work (one more reason that altruism is a sham ;-) ).
Visit Boswa Bits, now with 99% less evil!
[ Parent ]
Social Wierdness (none / 0) (#69)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:44:56 PM EST

If any geeks are like I was growing up.... well.. I was a friendly guy, but kind of afraid of people. I got picked quite a bit in the earlier grades.. even in the later ones when I didn't, I still psychologically didn't make many friends. I *did* meet a number of people through BBS and such.... Well. Today, I can look back, and say that *all* of my good friends, every job I've had, and several other key things all tie back into my BBS days. Some of those I met years and years ago on the BBS are now the best friends I could ever have. WHat do we do.. play video games? No.. we go on vacations to Mexico with our spouses, we go skydiving, we go clubbing, we party, we go camping... computers are now *work*, not play. The one piece of advice I have to all those who are a bit self-conscious: Everyone else is as self-conscious and just as screwed up as you; if not more, they simply ignore this fact.

Get A Life, get a Radio LAN (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:49:17 PM EST

I'm sitting right now in that big room with the blue ceiling. It's my garden, and I can go right on geeking thanks to the Proxim RangeLAN2 card stuck into the side of my IBM 560x ThinkPad.

So what exactly is the problem? :-)

el bid

Married Geek point of view (1.00 / 1) (#71)
by ctm on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:58:19 PM EST

I have one thing that will always interrupt my day (and prevents me from spending all my time on the computer: my wife and my kids. I still have that urge to code/play/fiddle but I really enjoy doing the things at home that I need to do. I finally got to a point in my life that when I leave work I don't feel like I should have done more. I have been a Sys Admin now for almost 4 years, and frankly I'm bored of computers when I get home. I probably need to change jobs, but thats a different story.

My point is, eventually I got to where I didn't have that need because of things going on in my life. I think that without my family (which recently happened while they were on vacation) that it is very important to schedule my time. I felt much better when I set goals for myself that were outside of the computer. Still I spent more time than usual on the computer while they were gone, but I have barely touched the computer at home since they came back.
Which is worse ignorance or apathy?

Who knows? Who cares?

Defining a real life (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by jdkatz on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:12:56 PM EST

Today's definition of "no life" is often tomorrow's definition of a rich one. You seem to have a life to me, and I wonder if you're not just being conditioned to think of it as vacuous because you're not out doing "traditional things." The fact that you're spending so much time on something you love suggests to me that you're especially fortunate and very much have a life. I'm not a coder, but a lot of my friends are and none of them live what society would term a "normal" life. And they are happy, engaged and doing very well. I understand what you're saying, but I'd think some about your definitions.

Find a human love (none / 0) (#75)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:21:40 PM EST

Before I met my wife I was a sad, lonely geek. We "met" through special classifieds for lovers of classical music.

Though we have little else in common, we have been married ten years and are still very much in love.

I am bored by most social interaction, but fortunately that has nothing to do with how one might strive for other "social" things, such as social justice, etc. Work on free software to connect with people.

Do not bore yourself with things that are arbitrary to you; just keep looking for that special one with whom to share your life. Look for a heart of gold--little else matters.

I have no life and I am happy as a clam! (4.00 / 2) (#76)
by Buck Satan on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:25:49 PM EST

I have a bunch of hobbies - computers, electronics, ham radio, DVD, astronomy, paintball, reading. I have no GF, and have not had one for a number of years.

All my hobbies center around science and knowledge. Sometimes I even let politics get in there. I am also getting interested in solar energy and alternative fuels. Everything I do I do for fun. I don't make any money off any of my hobbies.

As for not having a GF, I don't mind it one bit, to be honest. I don't have anyone expecting anything of me and I am not expecting anything of anyone else either. I don't "have to go to her mother's house for dinner" when I would rather be spending my time hacking some code when I have a brilliant idea for something.

I guess what I am getting to is this: I hate letting my brain rot. I look around at friends of mine and to be honest most of them are complete dolts. They are stupid. Yes, they are friends of mine, but they are complete morons. I refuse to become one of them.

Being able to think is worth more to me than all the free sex the world has to offer.

Re: I have no life and I am happy as a clam! (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:27:05 PM EST

Ok, I don't mean this post to be inflammatory or anything, but there is more to life than sitting in your basement coding, or sitting reading books all the time, or fiddling around with electronic's, or whatever. As people, we are not strictly solitary creatures... we are social creatures. It's natural for us to interact with people, blah blah blah. I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.

I guess, with your friends, the problem is not with them, it's with you. Either they really are as stupid as you say, in which case, maybe you should find new friends, or perhaps you should just get off your high horse and realize that everybody is different and you should accept people you call 'friends' for who they are. Just because they don't have the same desire for learning that you might have doesn't make them any less intelligent.

And about the GF thing... I think that having a gf for the sake of having one (i.e. sex) is just a waste of time for me and I'm not interested in that sort of thing unless I really dig the person. So I agree with you there. I haven't had a steady gf in 3 years and I haven't missed it one bit.

Life is short, and you should do what makes you happy, but I think that you should seriously examine what it is that makes you happy. I know for me, having a good time with some friends is damn near the best thing there is in life, and I try to enjoy it as much as possible (not that it's all good times, of course).

Sorry this post is pretty rushed, I'm hurrying cuz I've gotta go run before it gets too late.


[ Parent ]
"no life" (none / 0) (#104)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 08:15:01 PM EST

If you think your friends are stupid, then why are they your friends?

So you can have someone to despise?

[ Parent ]

Don't use others as your measuring stick. (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by JohnChristopher on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 04:23:23 PM EST

One of the biggest problems I have right now is that I have completely made my work my identity, and it's truly destroying me now that work isn't so great.

I know how you feel, though. You see others accomplishing great things, and you are hit with a twinge of jealousy, wondering why it wasn't you... if you just tried a little harder, had a few better ideas, then it could be your face on the cover of "Linux Journal". Those kinds of thoughts are tiny soul piranha, chewing away at you until nothing is left but a bitter, hollowed out shell of a geek.

Instead, focus on your own goals. When you are going to bed, ask yourself "Have I done anything to improve myself today?". If you can answer yes, even if it is just a tiny thing, like reading a chapter in a book, then rest knowing you are better now than you were at the beginning of the day. If you must answer no, then simply resolve to do better tomorrow, and stop beating yourself up over it.

Oh, and photography makes a killer hobby for geeks.

Bah! (4.50 / 2) (#85)
by Bad Mojo on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 06:05:47 PM EST

Having a real life is a SHAM! It's something people who don't share your hobbies and intrests tell you to make you feel bad, or them feel better. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, yet I talk to more people, have more fun, and get more done than most other people do all freaken' day. So do what you do, and have fun and never think twice about what other people might feel about wether you spend 1 hour or 20 outdoors.

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

raving (none / 0) (#87)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 06:58:44 PM EST

oddly I just got into this raving. I went to Glastonbury festival (England), a major event. lotsa fun but oddly without a social infrastructure, friends etc, equally disconnected. Fun anyway, butthe point is you still need a way to interact with real people and virtual life doesnt cut it.
Im 41 and still with the mindset I had at 21 but I can see life has got past me.

quality human full contact (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by TheDullBlade on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:14:38 AM EST

You can make limited human contact more worthwhile by making harder contact. This is the reason that martial arts are getting more popular.

Personally, I like judo, which translates from the original Japanese as "the gentle art of smashing your opponent into the floor, then twisting his arm and strangling him until he screams 'Maitta!'". Very terse language, Japanese, kind of like Perl.

One good suplex (ura-nage) makes up for a whole day alone in a lightless room, toggling your bootstrap sequence of senidenary code into the electronic calculating machine.
Visit Boswa Bits, now with 99% less evil!
Computer work sucks (none / 0) (#97)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:14:50 AM EST

I've just started a programming job and I can't say that I like it too much. Working at the computer for 8 hour stretches makes me physically sick: my eyes hurt and I feel nauseated. Worst of all, I feel my creative life draining away. There's little time to think in a creative, open-ended manner.. only short snatches at night, and I'm usually too tired to get much done then.

School was much better. There was an opportunity to try to learn something new everytime, to explore. I used to make sure that every course I took led me to something new. While I'm finding that a straight programming job is basically an application of what you already know, to problems of a very narrow scope.

And at the end of the day, the rewards are limited. The company makes its fortune of your labor, and trading your independence and vigor for a salary just isn't worth it.

Get an Adrenaline hobby! (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 05:01:47 AM EST

You know you've got to get out more. Coding's getting stale, you're getting stale... but the standard "social life" suff is lame. Solution: do something non-lame! Climb, downhill mountain bike, free fall parachute, air-sports, motor-sports, ride horses, scuba, ... whatever. Its all out there... You'll be amazed how your geeking improves with regular doses of "doing" to break up all that "thinking". You've got the coding skills ,so you've got the $/Eu, so use them! Me, I fly sailplanes (aerobatic and cross-country). A weekend of serious flying and I'm a new coder again! A girl-friend who has a life too is equally helpful - they *do* exist, you just won't find 'em in nightlcubs. Andrew

My turn to whine (none / 0) (#106)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:29:20 PM EST

Although this seems a dead story (discussion), being almost two days old (!), it might make me feel better if I write this somewhere. I'm young still, only 17, yet I got the feeling my life's going to go to hell from here. I'm a minor-geek, know some coding but am pretty far from being sysadmin at age of 18 or in the face of the linux journal. But despite that, I'm just as lifeless as 24/7 coders, more so, in case of some who have both life and nlife, like many here seemed to. I'm not sure why is this. Maybe it has something to do with confidence. Social skills. Beats me. I only know that the only friends I have offline are ones from past days, and they are few who still remain, and online, well, I really don't have friends there either, only people who know me. I must have some sort of social block, or maybe just repulsive personality, but I seem to never really get into any society, but fade into the background where nobody really knows me. It's damn depressing. I don't know how I'm going to make it once I move to live in my own apartment. -AH

Having a "real life" | 104 comments (102 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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