Sometimes You Just Gotta Rant

So, this is a thing: There’s a billboard in Utah for a dating website called (I’m not going to dignify either the site or the news outlet that broke it by linking. If you want to dig deeper, I’m sure you have a favorite search engine.) When I saw this site posted on Facebook, there were (predictably) a cadre of white guys chiming in with dipshittery about “well, black people can have their own dating sites…” and challenging anyone to find something fundamentally wrong with this.

As both a white person and a former employee of a well-trafficked Internet dating service, I have things to say.

Challenge Accepted

If you’re an American looking for a dating service where it’s easy to meet white people, your options are damn near any of them. The mainstream sites in America are all predominantly white. All of them. This is because, despite the racist anxieties clung to by so many conservatives, America is predominantly white. In a state like Utah, which is even whiter than the nation at large, the local pool on a mainstream dating website will be whiter still, and when you take into consideration differences in Internet and smartphone usage/penetration, then even that majority will be overrepresented.

To spell it out for any Fox News viewers who might have wandered to this page by accident: Minorities have specialty dating (and other) services because they are minorities and finding people like them (which, for good or ill, is most people’s preference) is harder than it is for those of us in the majority.

Put even more simply: If you believe that this website exists to overcome real obstacles keeping single white people apart, or that it legitimately addresses some fundamental issue of fairness, the nicest thing that might be said about you is that you are pathologically inattentive.

The point of is not to help white people meet (especially white Utahns). The point of this site is obvious: It exists for those who want to avoid non-white people, and who want to connect with others who have that priority. In that sense, I suppose it’s another minority dating website, though its branding is disingenuous.

You can fill in the blanks yourself about what the underlying motives might be for the site’s users. In any case, if you’re not somewhere on the scale between uncomfortable and appalled about such a site, we’re going to have difficulty being friends.

September Writing Challenge, Post 24: Three Things I Wish American Tech Culture Would Learn

Note: I’ve had a couple things holding my attention this week, and as a result missed a couple of days of the writing challenge. I’ll catch up.

One more note: I’m having a slightly rant day. Bear with me.

There are a bunch of things that could be done to make the tech culture more sane and humane. Here are three that rank highly on my list:

1. Working more hours does not necessarily make you more productive. In fact, it may make you far, far less so. We work in one of the few professions where it is possible to do negative work on a daily basis – that is, to make the code worse than we left it. We are more likely to do this when we work long hours. Unfortunately, both American work culture and the tech subculture seek to twist overwork into a virtue. It’s not. Overwork leads to bad decisions. If your boss doesn’t understand this, give him the slide deck I linked earlier in this paragraph (which contains a ton of researched information on productivity topics beyond just hours). If he willfully ignores the facts and says he doesn’t believe it, go work for someone smarter, and let him fail on someone else’s broken back. Also: If you think you’re somehow the exception to this, you’re not. There’s ample research out there – I urge you to look it up.

2. Trading sleep for work just makes you dumber, not more productive. This goes hand-in-hand with the issue of long hours; as with overwork, our culture makes a badge of honor out of sleep deprivation. (I was guilty of this myself when I was younger.) When we don’t get enough sleep, it degrades the quality of our work, and our ability to notice how much our work has degraded. This may be a reason so many people think they’re exceptional in this regard. Spoiler: They’re not. Again, there’s loads of research; Google is your friend.

3. The software profession is not a meritocracy. At least, it’s not if you’re black or a woman. This is made worse by the fact that white guys in the profession often think they’re too smart to have unconscious biases about race, gender, sexuality, &c. It’s made worse still by the fact that most of us in the profession who are any good at it actually did work hard to get there, and feel there’s merit in the rewards we’ve gathered. But if it’s not a meritocracy for everyone, it’s not a meritocracy for anyone, and those of us on the inside need to check our privilege and start examining our own behavior.