What happened to all the non-programmers?
www.benkuhn.net

“As I looked around and realized for the hundredth time that I was surrounded by people exactly like me, something inside me snapped. I downloaded the latest American Community Survey microdata, fired up R and started calculating feverishly.”

My first suspicion is that his ACS analysis is not adequately pulling in non-programmer jobs at tech companies as related, but let’s say it’s spot on.

I think the interest lies in two things here. First,

Unless I’ve miscalculated pretty badly, though, it’s clear that these social bubble effects are way stronger and more tenacious than I would have expected.

This is an interesting prior to hold. What kinds of people get to go through life assuming that their social circles constitute random samples, and what kinds of people must be aware of their own particularity? I don’t mean that as a dunk, I mean that sincerely. White people don’t realize how white their circles are. Cis straight people don’t realize how cis and straight their circles are–or if they do, IME they often think it’s because there aren’t many trans and queer people out there. American-born Americans tend to think that it’s immigrant communities that are insular, not recognizing the insularity of their own lives.

As much as people make fun of the “special snowflake” mindset, I find it far more irritating when people go through life assuming that their experience is the default one. To that end, I hope Ben[^1] continues along this line of thought, just perhaps externalizing a little less. There aren’t external forces “selecting out the variance” – it’s him and his choices. And whether or not he decides it’s worth it to understand more about the implications of those choices, or to branch a bit further afield – it’s an unambiguous good to understand that one’s sense of the world is shaped by one’s choices of association.

Second, scroll through the comments and see a few gems like:

I devised this three-step program to connect better with non-programmers […] Nonprogrammers express themselves with a lower cognitive but higher experiential density .

I live in a tech city and boy, let me tell you, people can smell this kind of mindset from blocks away. Oof.

[^1]: …“Mr. Kuhn”? God, it’s weird to figure out how to refer to people.

@otso
21M

Yeah, I don’t really get it being a revelation that someone’s friend group is made of people similar to each other in interests and socio-economic status. Somewhat interesting read, but no revelations.

Maya
admin
creator
31M

I find fascinating the idea that someone would think “I am explicitly open to befriending people from a wide range of backgrounds and therefore I would expect the backgrounds of the people I socialize with to reflect this openness” because I am so, so used to the layers of social filtration that happen for a million different reasons, benign and less-so

@otso
21M

yeah. and even if you meet people that are very diverse on a day to day basis (which you don’t), just declaring that you’re open to everyone doesn’t automatically turn off your subconscious biases and preferences. that is definitely someone you have to work to get over