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Tough Geek Love

tumblr_static_dog-logoEarlier today, someone on a help forum said that I had shown them tough love. I don’t deny it. After all, they were trying to do something very simple in a very complicated way.

To make matters worse, they described themselves as a “newbie” even though they’ve been on this forum for over a year. Even worse, they are a webmaster, and are now apparently designing websites for other people. Once you have gotten to that point, you have levelled up and can no longer consider yourself a newbie. What have you been doing during the past year? Not mastering HTML and CSS, I’ll warrant.

I don’t mind helping people out (I love it, actually), but my goal is always to make people more self-sufficient. I don’t want to come across as an arrogant jerk just because I know more than they do. My goal is not just to give people the information they need, but to help them learn how to figure out this stuff on their own. After all, I once knew nothing about computers or html or css or php. I learned what I know through research and experimentation, and often through imitating others. (“View source” exists for a reason, right?)

And yes, I’ve asked stupid questions. I’m a teacher, and apparently our mantra is “there are no stupid questions.” Sorry, there are stupid questions, lots of them. I know because I’ve asked some of them. And I’ve been lambasted for that. l’ve even been told, in response to what was a well thought out query, “Google”. (So before you ask, Google.) The point is not to avoid asking stupid questions (if you’re human, it’s going to happen), but rather, to learn how to ask better ones.

The point is this: yes, you can copy and paste and it will often work. I’ve done it thousands of times. But there’s no real joy in that, any more than there is joy in baking a frozen pizza. Yes, you can eat it, and yes, it will taste good, and yes, it will fill your stomach. But you can’t call it cooking. At some point, it will no longer satisfy.

The real joy comes when you take a 1 from here and a 1 from there and put them together to get 3. When you start to figure this stuff out on your own, when you start to fly without a net, when you realize that you are now confused on a level you didn’t even know existed–then you experience the joy.

But it will never happen as long as we leave the training wheels on. If taking off the training wheels is equivalent to tough love, then sobeit. Without a moment’s pain, you’ll never experience the joy that lasts a lifetime.

Written entirely on my Google Note (which wants to capitalize EVERYTHING) Using the free WordPress app (which is full of awesome).

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.kjodle.net/2014/01/06/tough-geek-love/

2 comments

  1. Millie

    Actually, no. You are just a dick.

    1. Ken

      Thanks for adding something useful to the conversation.

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