The Cake Fallacy
I recently came upon a “joke” on /r/rust:
OTOH, I don’t want Rust to get too popular: where’s my market value as a Rust dev if everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon? :) –– rjc2013 on /r/rust
This is a variant of the fixed cake fallacy and even if meant as a joke I deeply dislike it. Now before you all write to tell me not to get my knickers in a knot, hear me out why I dislike it:
Some people may take the statement at face value. Some people may even get that it’s a joke but feel their belief that they will be better off if others have it worse validated. This is essentially the ticket the German NSDAP ran on in 1933. To some it appears to be acceptable again in 2017. This cannot stand. Telling it as a joke makes it seem harmless. What? Can’t you stand a joke? But it normalizes the sentiment nonetheless. Not on my watch.
What’s worst about it: This fallacy attempts to keep you in fear from the (presumed) competition of others in our field. This fear holds you back from helping others. You’ll see someone in the same boat as a threat instead of a kindred spirit. So you’ll leave them to their devices at best, or at worst try to sabotage them. This leads to bad blood and suffering because you followed a silly fear. Worse, the programming languages that you get the least know how for are also the least employable, mainly because employers like to follow the herd to minimize their risk. So you not only hurt others, but directly hurt your own career. Take this from an old Java programmer.
But if we break this awful spell of stupidity, we may help others, lift them up, or mentor them to help themselves become better. At worst, you’ll never hear from them again, but at best, you’ll find friendship with folks whose acumen has been honed, and who’ll be happy to help you out should you ever need it. Perhaps you’ll end up working with some of them, or even some of those your mentees have trained, and you’ll want them at their best. So, if you have just a bit of time (and don’t argue with me here, I have a full time job and three kids and still help people out), go out and help where you can. Mentor folks. Blog. Answer questions. Be open. And then joke about how we need more Rust programmers, because there are still less of us than programmable devices in the world.
And whenever someone tells you that “joke” above, link them this post.