Is Coding Really for Everyone?

A frequently brought up notion in tech circles is that coding is for everyone. While this statement sounds good on the surface, I think there are implicit considerations that are often overlooked. Let's peel back the onion on this.

The Elephant in the Room

Am I guilty of a clickbait headline? I think most content creators are at one point or another.

But before you start yelling "gatekeeping!" allow me to elaborate. Anyone who wants to learn to code, should, and can learn to code. The intent of this article is not to deter people or to make claims that "some people," wherever that line gets drawn, cannot learn to code.

This post will delve more into this idea's "should" aspect.

The Motive of Learning to Code

One commonly debated topic on social media is that people should have a specific motive or that other reasons are more pure or acceptable than others. For example, some folks claim that you should not pursue programming or coding unless you are passionate about programming and computer science. People who only get into coding because it can be an incredibly lucrative career should not have.

I'm not going to lie to you. A career in programming is life-changing.

I grew up in extreme poverty. I was never homeless or facing food insecurities, as far too many people in the world do, for which I am incredibly grateful. Still, my parents both worked multiple jobs and went without so I would have the quality of life I did. A career in programming allowed me to increase my income by 1200% from 2008 to 2022. It allowed me to dig myself out of a bottomless hole, give my kid's the lives I want them to have, and build the future I want to develop.

The income alone is a damn good motivation to want to break into the programming or tech positions, and I wouldn't fault anyone for feeling this way. Likewise, I would never think poorly of a co-worker, colleague, or individual to cross my path, for this being their primary rationale. However, let's briefly consider that there is more to life than making money.

"I hate my job."

If you are a programmer at any level and love writing code, you may find it hard to believe or relate to, but some people despise writing code.

This dislike of coding can be for a multitude of reasons. For example, some folks find the process of commanding silicon to do our bidding uninteresting, overly tricky, unfulfilling/boring, or any other unsatisfactory descriptors. Other people dislike sitting or standing at a desk for long periods.

Hate may be a strong word initially. You may even feel indifferent at first, but we are talking about a scale of 30+ year career.

Anyone is free to disagree. However, I firmly believe that money is not worth working for a job you hate. Even high earners will likely not retire by 50, with an average lifespan of around 77 years. Do you want to spend a third or more of your life unhappy?

Think you might like it?

To re-iterate my opening message, if you think you may like coding, absolutely give it a try. The best resource around, in my humble opinion, is FreeCodeCamp. They have a wealth of resources available, ranging from a guided course from "Hello World" to fully functional web applications, a YouTube Channel with hundreds of videos, and an enormous community to support you.

Don't let this article or your preconceived notions about what a job in programming might be like worry you. The only way to know for sure is to dive in, learn some concepts, and apply them to fun projects that interest you. You may find something you love so much that you even want to do it in your free time as a hobby, something that is fulfilling enough to be a career but maybe not a "passion," or you may not like it at all. In any case, that's ok!

Conclusion

Some might say this entire article is nitpicking, and they would not be entirely wrong. But in a global world where writer and reader may not speak the same native language or platforms like Twitter where post-length limitations limit context, I find it's often better to be as explicit as possible.

One might say it's better to say, "Anyone who wants to write code should learn."