I was so busy climbing the ladder, I had not realized it was leaning on the wrong wall.

This was a useful phrase for me to hear at that moment. For the last few months I've been assessing the wall my own ladder leans against, so to speak. As a 37 year old white male software developer, I'm trying to account for the responsibility that comes with the socio-economic leverage I have in the world. Am I spending my privileges responsibly? How could I do more with my next 37 years?

These are questions without easy answers, but lead to other useful questions, I think. If I can use my skills to advance some ideological position in the world, why not work on that? What things should I be working on? How does what I actually am doing meaningfully address those specific problems.

Here is my recipe, written in the second-person, but not meant to be taken prescriptively.

For my part, I am interested in the intersection of two topics that qualify to me as Most Important.

  1. Climate change: how can I write software that doesn't require tons of electricity, or the latest and greatest hardware? How can I make remote participation a viable alternative to expensive and carbon-intensive flights?
  2. Social inequality: what are ways to share what I know with those who haven't found the opportunities to become tech savvy? How can I be a better advocate for those with less socio-economic privileges?

Again, these are based on personal conviction, your own topics may vary greatly. Yours may sound more or less self-righteous, but for my part I am okay with embracing self-consciously righteous goals. It's not about guilt, or feeling superior, but being deliberate about what I do with my energy and productivity.

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