28 November 2013
So Kenneth Kuan, the outgoing guy at Penny Arcade, has spoken up about the position he’s leaving And toomanyjens has ripped into that. Before Kenneth posted, I’d previously commented on PA’s job listing.
For a bit about my background: I’ve been in the computer industry longer than Kenneth Kuan’s been alive. I’ve seen and heard a lot in the industry that is disgusting and vile on levels that Penny Arcade hasn’t touched. Pink slip fire drills. The “nobody pisses on me” episode that involved actual urination. And firing (of the people whizzed on, just for clarification). And the mortuary vulture capitalists that were using life insurance payouts for AIDS sufferers to fund tech startups.
The Penny Arcade stuff is far more ordinary evil, the kind that some people, like Kenneth Kuan, have bought into.
For the record, I’ve done web development (for companies like Nissan and PGP), software development (for companies like TiVo and Nortel), sysadmin and DBA (for companies like Honda), and general IT work though the last is the weakest of those four. In other words, I am also a unicorn, so I know whereof I speak.
I’ve only had one job ever where I felt that everything I was interested in, no matter how peculiar, was relevant: when I was a bookseller at Kepler’s during the dot bomb era when most of the people we knew who’d been in tech were unemployed. I felt weirdly guilty that a non-tech job gave me this particular satisfaction that no job in tech ever has.
The point of work-life balance is to be able to have time to invest in those parts of who you are that aren’t describable by your job alone. I offer the following phrase out of Kenneth’s own post:
but I have goals that won’t be fulfilled by working there
Yes. But see? That’s true of pretty much everyone, pretty much all of the time. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your job is, how cool the technologies are you work with, how amazing the people are.
Even if you own your own company, part of your goals will involve things for which people won’t pay you money. Or enough money. Kids are a classic example of that.
The point is: you’re a complex individual who has a lot of goals and interests. It’s great to have a job that fits those as much as possible, but it’s actually impossible to have a job that fully fits who you are. Work-life balance is about having the opportunity to be all of yourself.
In other words: Kenneth, despite his protests to the contrary, is in fact leaving because of work-life balance issues. He just can’t see it from where he is. He says he’s not burned out, but he’s been there, what, two years? That’s barely enough time for a good singe.
I think the line that got me the most was this one:
Want to go on a hike somewhere there’s no reception? Sorry, you can’t.
I’d have missed the best opportunities I had in 2013 if this were true, and not just because of the number of hours I spent on a plane. I had no cell reception in Federated States of Micronesia, Maldives, or Myanmar, all of which were amazing to visit.
If you can’t fully detach, then you can’t really be who you are. This is why on-call rotation is so much more helpful in dealing with stress and preventing burnout.
Happy Thanksgiving, Kenneth. May your new career be far more rewarding for you.