“To show me Rebecca's face and say 'Here's what your year looked like!' is jarring," Meyer wrote in a blog post, using his experience to illustrate the point that more thought needs to be put into designing code like the one Facebook used for its meme. "It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it's just unfortunate."
What surprised and dismayed me were the…let’s call them "uncharitable" assumptions made about the people who worked on Year in Review. “What do you expect from a bunch of privileged early-20s hipster Silicon Valley brogrammers who’ve never known pain or even want?” seemed to be the general tenor of those responses.
No. Just no. This is not something you can blame on Those Meddling Kids and Their Mangy Stock Options.
First off, by what right do we assume that young programmers have never known hurt, fear, or pain? How many of them grew up abused, at home or school or church or all three? How many of them suffered through death, divorce, heartbreak, betrayal? Do you know what they’ve been through? No, you do not. So maybe dial back your condescension toward their lived experiences.
Meyer spends the rest of his post showing how Gheller’s team is just like the rest of us, falling prey to “a failure to anticipate how a design decision that really worked in one way completely failed in another.” That failure, says Meyer, isn’t because they are bad designers, lack empathy, or ignored their users. Instead, he says:
This is such a common failure that it’s almost not a failure any more. It just… is.
We need to challenge that “is”. I’ve fallen victim to it myself. We all have. We all will. It will take time, practice, and a whole lot of stumbling to figure out how to do better, but it is, I submit, vitally important that we do.
While Meyer is talking about state of technological coding and design, his words are also a call to challenge the “is” of the broken and limited coding that infects human nature as well. At least, it is for me.