Fear of different is insecurity

posted by Jeff | Friday, May 17, 2024, 8:30 PM | comments: 0

There's this tech bro who has a beach house and a successful business, and he mostly hasn't had any other job. I've admired his desire to challenge what we consider "normal" in software and the industry in general, and I've bought his books. In recent years though, I've come to mostly be annoyed by him. He's gone from challenging the establishment to wanting to establish one that coincides with his world view. I'm not going to tell you who it is, because I don't want to give him even the slightest bit more oxygen.

His books, written with his co-founder, are mostly about how many of the conventions we adhere to in work, and specifically in the development of software, don't really serve the outcomes that we're after. I get this. I feel like I've spent much of my career doing the same. In recent years though, he seems to have become more and more disconnected from the world, which is to say he no longer appears to have any empathy for, well, anyone not like him.

It started with his general assault on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts in business, which is a subset of the environmental and social governance (ESG) principals that corporations are often trying to codify, in part to attract the best people. Full disclosure, I'm on the DEI council of my employer, in part because I believe that neurodiverse people should be represented. But there is a ton of data and evidence that people are not treated equally in business, because of their race, gender or sexuality. That shouldn't be controversial, as decades of bias, unconscious or otherwise, have put people on non-equal footing. It's an objective observation.

More recently, he's decided to take up the cause of calling out the people who generally feel different or weird or otherwise don't feel included, for whatever reason. (It's also telling that he'll blog about it, but doesn't share it on Twitter, which is a funny kind of cowardice.) I'll be the first to say that social media has invented some things that aren't real, or are just in the category of "adulting" ("#highfunctioninganxiety," I'm looking at you, WTF). But as someone who was not on any radar for an autism diagnosis when it would have mattered most, in my childhood, I'm pretty annoyed by anyone who would suggest that my reality is rooted in some desire to be weird or unique. Fuck that guy, I'd love to have easily integrated into typical social constructs. I didn't want this.

But it begs the larger question: Why are people so scared of people that are not like them? People of a different race, gender, sexuality, and dare I say even religion, are not inherently bad. Is my childhood in relatively diverse schools the reason that I just don't feel threatened by those who are different? And by extension, I'm not threatened by their identity, which deeply important to anyone, really. "I don't see color" and other similar themes are the opposite of what you should see. See the person for who they are, because it's important to them. Where does this insecurity come from that you feel threatened by people who are not like you?

It's a fair question to say, "Well why are you so against 'them?'" I'm not "against" anyone, nor do I "hate" anyone. But you can be damn sure that anyone who wishes to oppress, reject, trivialize or denigrate others based on who they are is not on the right side of history or humanity. Adopting that sentiment toward anyone is a choice, it's not who you are. It's not OK.


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