Lessons learned from strangers on the Internet

You are too old to learn, they said. At your age it is impossible to change behavioral patterns, they concluded. “They” being these voices I have been hearing in my head lately — a side-effect of the isolation that comes with being a slave to/freelancer on the Internet.

A couple of days ago I would have agreed. Honestly, I would have agreed to anything. I felt done. Depressed. If somebody would have told me that I would never be hired again and I would have to live under a bridge, I would have agreed to that too. It didn’t matter, because I had already given up.

Whenever I feel dramatic like that I fall back on movie-behavior.

I would be sitting in my living room feeling extremely sorry for myself and I would transition into a movie cliché from a Western or Good-Cop-With-Issues film. I would, for example, sit in my kitchen, a bottle of whiskey and a glass in front of me. I would flick the cap off with my thumb – pause for a moment – then ignoring the glass — drink straight from the bottle while looking at photographs from a happier past.

However, I only have a bottle of Dooley’s, which is a cream liqueur that tastes like toffee, that I bought in 2004 — and there are no photos of me to look at, because I don’t like people, so why would I look at one on a photo? Makes no sense, but I don’t care.

It is actually very difficult to reenact a random movie cliché. I don’t have a bath tub, so razor blades and/or hairdryers are not an option, there are no dangerous pills in shady looking brown plastic bottles (pill strips are really an anti-climax in that regard) and I don’t seem to have any decent rope — or the correct infrastructure (beam) for that matter – to really get into character.

Not that I would ever off myself. I’m way too self-absorbed for that. I just want to feel super sorry for myself so I can feel validated for being so depressed about … not being productive at work.

When you read that out loud it sounds very silly. Maybe the voices are right.

I really need to learn to filter myself. The topic of this post is supposed to be “hurray, I accomplished something”.

It is kind of interesting though. When you read the text before this paragraph then you would probably not understand why I would feel the way that I am describing. Maybe you’re flipping me a virtual finger. Maybe a real one.

Trust me, the hell is real. I feel like I am in a prison 24/7. I look outside and I wish I could be that person in his car or that person jogging. It is like I am chained to my house. It is impossible for me to leave. In my head I have this (unrealistic) idea that when I build a successful application that everything will suddenly be OK.

Then I would have money, so I would be able to travel, drink Martinis with olives dressed in a tux with a bow tie, party on a boat with people I don’t know and drive cool cars — while wearing super-slick car-driving gloves (you know the leather ones with the bare knuckles?).

Yet even those fantasies are not even my own. They are just images of movies I have seen, like “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “The Social Network” and “Bullit” — with my man, Steve McQueen.

Darn, took a wrong turn again.

After my blog post about not being able to deal with “shiny objects” I was bombarded with very useful critique and comments on Hacker News. It was an eye opener. Every single one of you was right. Every person who contributed to that article made an impact.

In fact, forget the article. The comments should be the article.

To refresh your memory I will give some examples of those useful tips.

A user named serve_yay said:

“You can’t do every aspect of everything well, I would say it is even foolish to try. This is what focusing is all about, paying attention to what’s important and disregarding the rest. Don’t dick around with editor configs.”

Uh. Nailed it.

egypturnash commented:

“Stop caring. Make something messy and shitty. Tell yourself you are going to make something messy and shitty; gleefully ignore any ‘best practices’ that make it a pain in the ass to just slap something together.”

You make it sound so easy.

And one of my favorites by benjaminRRR:

“Get to the problem. Don’t solve for problems you don’t yet have.”

Oh man, if only you guys were here; reminding me of these things all day so it would eventually be burned into my brain.

Well, now you are. How is that for creepy behavior?

After I read those comments I wanted to put it to the test. I gave myself the task to build a fully working application from start to finish, without allowing myself to start something else.

It did not matter what the application had to do, although I did try to keep it close to the comments. I decided I would build a small application that would show an inspirational quote (one of your comments) every 60 minutes so I would constantly be reminded of the things I need to change.

I started a new repository on a new Github account so I would not get distracted by old ideas and unfinished projects.

The application is called “YetAnotherGreatMotivator”, the Github repository can be found here and – more importantly – the first MVP (Minimum Viable Product) release can be found here!

God, I feel cool. Like a weight fell off my shoulders. Too bad the weight around my ass is still very much on me.

Yagm application animation

It doesn’t do much, but still.

It may not look like much to you, but to me – tear rolls down my face as I type this – it feels like a ray of sunshine in the anus of Satan.


[List of quotes that are currently included]


3 thoughts on “Lessons learned from strangers on the Internet

  1. It’s like you’re my twin, I swear. Even, to the point that I’ve considered starting my own blog about this very subject. Except, (maybe this will make you feel better), that I can’t even get through the process of setting up WordPress, (gotta find the perfect theme, the perfect domain, the perfect format, the perfect hosting solution, etc.), eventually I end up spending so much time, going on such wild tangents, that I forget what it was that I was doing in the first place. I’m following this now, so once you find a solution for our problem, be sure to update!


  2. I used to battle with this all the time. Still do from time to time. There is a lot of excitement in starting, but it does not add much value to you life or the world. At some point in my life I heard a simple phrase and it changed me: “Stop starting, and start finishing.” Value comes from a finished thing, even if it is small and imperfect. The assumption that you can understand the width and breadth of Project X on the first go also used to bring me down. Very broken and imperfect V0.1 live in the world will give you far more information and feedback than days of thinking in your underpants:)

    Finishing is a difficult path to start on, but start small. What helped me was writing down the thing I was finishing on a post-it note. Then setting a 15min interval reminder. Every 15mins ask yourself the hard question: Is what I am doing, or thinking of doing right now, directly required to finish today?

    This helped too: http://blog.codinghorror.com/todont/

    Best of luck.


  3. Your writing is superb (and hilarious). The material is highly relatable; I believe you’re reaching an untapped audience, inventing a new self-help genre, or something.

    Keep blogging!


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