June 11, 2015 in reflection+self, technology+media · 3 minute read · views

it’s hard to pick just one reason that i love programming. the short answer is that i love taking an idea and making it a reality— particularly if that idea will enhance the human experience, or if it will solve a common, human problem. for me, technology and code have always been about creating, maintaining, and benefiting communities.

the long answer is full of backstory and self-reflection, if you’re into that sort of thing.

for a while, the answer to this question eluded me. that’s a scary thing to admit.

i think my problem was that i felt like i couldn’t be authentic in my answer; that i should respond in the way that most people might expect. that my response should profess my love for logic problems, or my desire to create clean and efficient/optimized code. while it’s true that i enjoy those things, my desire and motivation for programming isn’t solely for the puzzles and the euphoric high you get when they’re solved.

growing up, my interests were always in the more “emotional” and intuitive subjects. some of my first reports in elementary school would take me hours and hours: because i was drawing illustrations, formatting them precisely, writing about subjects i felt passionate about. i was happiest in art class, or social studies. i loved the library, and reading as many books as i could. logical subjects, like mathematics, never had much meaning to me. they were just numbers on a page. why did they matter?

i started losing confidence in myself as i neared middle school and high school. i was an admittedly weird kid (and am still an admittedly weird person), and that made me an easy target. it was around that time that personal computers were becoming a thing, and the internet was only just beginning to grow into the massively social tool we know and love today. i was introduced to both via a game called petz.

petz eventually introduced me to the world of internet chat rooms and personal websites. it was a game with a large community, with users creating “kennels” and “catteries” that mimicked akc and cfa shows. because mmorpgs weren’t a thing yet, petz also introduced me to the concept of play-by-post role playing games. i was immediately hooked. i loved that connection, that community where i could explore the things that i loved outside of the pressures of school. it was a digital space in which i found acceptance and confidence.

i learned to program while participating in these forums; first as a method of creativity and self-expression, and then because i wanted to create amazing communities of my own. places where i felt safe to be myself, where like-minded people that felt the same could do the same. wolf rpg is an extension of that experience— a play-by-post game (a la jack london’s “call of the wild”) where many of the people i wrote stories with when i was eleven years old still write stories together today.

now that i’m older, my reasons for programming are a little less selfish, but i still find the most inspiration and meaning when i’m either creating or benefiting communities. for me, it’s not about the software or the machine— it’s about the people using them.