Should everyone learn to code? Or is this narrow mindedness?

Answer by Ben Werdmuller von Elgg:

It's important to understand the difference between "learning to code" and "being a coder".

  • I know how to do some math. I am not a mathematician.
  • I know how to drive. I am not a professional driver.
  • I know how an engine works. I am not a professional mechanic.
  • I can cook. I am not a professional chef.
  • I can unclog a toilet and hook up a sink. I am not a plumber.

In this context, yes, I think everyone should learn to code.

Sure, you can get away without math, but you're more likely to be ripped off. You can get away without knowing how to drive yourself, but it limits your transport options. You can get away without understanding your car, but you'll spend a fortune on mechanics (and get ripped off). You can avoid learning how to cook, but you'll spend more on food, eat worse and probably get fat. If you can't do basic plumbing, you're at the mercy of the people who can.

I'll repeat that again, in the context of computing: if you can't do basic coding, you're at the mercy of the people who can.

That's meaningless in a world where computers are boxes that sit under TVs in bedrooms and maybe perform a few limited tasks and play games. But that's not the world we're living in. Computers are everywhere, and you're using them hundreds of times a day without even realizing it. More and more, the people who design those computers are getting to dictate how you live your life.

Not everyone should be a professional coder. Your skills are important, and nobody's suggesting that being an engineer is more glorious than being a teacher or an investment banker or a farmer. But being able to bend the machines all around us to your will just a little bit more? That gives you an edge. That gives you greater freedom.

Or, let's put it this way. You know the demographics of software engineers; they're getting better, but they're pretty narrow. And you also know how software design is influencing virtually every part of our lives. Software's influence is only going to get broader, deeper, and more integrated. Do you really want to give that narrow demographic the monopoly on laying the scaffolding for the 21st century?

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How does one develop EQ?

Answer by Ellen Vrana:

This is a great question, implicit in it is that you actually care to develop EQ, which is great!
As I write, I have Big Bang Theory on.  I realize Sheldon Cooper is the best pop-culture example of someone without ANY emotional intelligence. He has no concept of what other people might be thinking or feeling other than what they actually say. The hidden subtext of human emotions is just that, hidden.  
I cannot tell you how to develop an EQ, there are brilliant psychologists on Quora who can take up that mantle.
But I can give a personal anecdote, I hope it helps.
I have an ok EQ, in fact, I think it is what has contributed to the few successes I've had.  Not my IQ.  I'm smart enough, but nothing amazing. School was hard for me; I relied on extra credit, easy classes and, at times, even mild cheating to get mediocre results.
My husband is a genius.  He can do math sums in his head faster than I can name my favorite food.  He is so smart that he relied on his data-driven intellect and as a result, his EQ was bad.  (And when I say bad, I mean almost Sheldon Cooper- bad.)  To be fair, he didn't ever need it to be successful and I'm NOT saying that he – or others like him – are bad people.
Then he met me, I demanded a slightly higher awareness of others' emotional subtext than he was used to.
This awareness included:

  • being aware of how his thoughts and actions affected others and that if they are acting in a way he didn't like, it might be because of a way he acted first
  • recognition that just because he intended to be helpful/kind/nice does not mean that the other person interprets it that way
  • being aware of people's unspoken motivations that might actually contradict their actions
  • being aware that sometimes people are not aware of their own motivations
  • being aware of how his own prejudices and experiences influence his opinions in a way that is not universal nor universally understood.

We approached it together.  I was responsible for not judging him as he tried to improve.  He was responsible for asking himself, in difficult moments, whether one of circumstances above was happening. 
The more he practiced, the better he got. The better he got, the more he cared.  The more he cared, the more he practiced.. and so on.  To the point where just this week, I was acting ornery and I got "Honey, you're acting out because you're really worried about your life goals and lack of fulfillment. Let's talk about that instead."  And he was RIGHT!  Damn this Frankenstein.
Having a good EQ means being sensitive to others' emotional needs.  If you don't do it naturally, it doesn't mean you can't, doesn't mean you're a bad person.   What worked for my husband was to literally write a list of questions (above) and to revisit them when he felt a pang of guilt, anger, etc.  His analytical mind is his best gift, so he approached it analytically.
 If you want to develop your EQ, find an approach that works best for you, this is just one example.

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Why are so many adults lonely even though they were so social when they were younger?

Answer by Amin Ariana:


If you want a friend, be a friend, because:

  1. Your making yourself too busy is the most likely reason why people don't approach you and get too busy for you, which in turn turns on a signal of being "left out" in your mind, reinforcing your getting busier to compensate for your loneliness, forming a vicious cycle.
  2. One of every four individuals is suffering from having no one to confide in (at least in the United States, according to research). That means if you reach out to any four random people for friendship and conversation, one of them desperately needs it and is almost crying inside wanting it. But they're extremely good at masking that need by looking successful and busy. Don't be fooled by how busy people are with being successful. It's your best signal for their need to compensate for loneliness. Approach them and ask if they care to have coffee sometime!

The long answer:

I've been specifically researching the answer to this question, because I'm interested in solving it. The closest I've come to an answer was by reading the book "The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the 21st Century."

In that book, the authors, Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz "set out to understand the cultural imperatives, psychological dynamics, and physical mechanisms underlying social isolation."

I don't want to spoil the book for you, but from a very high level, they make a compelling argument about an extremely high co-relation between loneliness and social isolation (at least its American version) and "busy-ness". The subtle but extremely important point illustrated in their argument is that these two phenomena form a vicious cycle:

In the context of American culture, we're all cowboys on the final frontier in our minds. So when we're alone, instead of seeking comfort in getting in touch with our friends and family, we look for super-hero activities; e.g: working in our garages, getting busy with a project, writing a book, being productive, etc. We tell ourselves to get a hobby and appreciate alone-ness, which is a great thing to do, but in moderation. Since the American culture pushes us to do this sort of cowboy / super-hero activity in excess, we start giving signals to our family and friends that we're "busy" (even though we did it in the first place to not burden them with our neediness). They in turn feel like they shouldn't bother us, or are rejected by our "successful, productive, have-no-time-for-you" lives, so they end up getting hobbies of their own. So by the time we're too burnt out from our own hobbies and finally we seek them out, we observe that they're busy and have no time for us (because now they're compensating for their loneliness by getting busy). It's a vicious cycle and many opportunities are missed, leading to a critical level of falling out, or severe social isolation.

According to the researchers, 1 in 4 Americans today has no confidant for discussing serious matters. Also according to them, this figure has quadrupled in the last 2 decades.

In an entrepreneurship class, I was pitching for solving this problem using contemporary solutions, and the question kept popping up from various people: "but this situation must be improving because of how much easier it is today to communicate with people we know. We have Facebook, Twitter, etc." The answer to that, as also illustrated in that book, is that those methods of communication lack the rich communication cues present in voice or in-person communication, so they do not replace meeting in person or talking on the phone. However, they do act as tools that keep us busy. According to research, it's extremely difficult for humans to resist rewards that arrive at unpredictable time intervals. Such rewards can be addictive (and that's exactly what Facebook notifications and Slot machines have in common). So today's Social Networks are better at keeping us addicted to busy-ness and self-involvement than genuine outward communication with friends. Most Facebook posts and status updates look like conversations with self, so they make us look busier and make our friends more and more alienated, ironically.

There are many innovations (such as Google+ Hangouts, which is a group video chat) aimed at mitigating the lack of richness in our modern means of communication. But at the end of the day, the root of this problem is culturally seated.

You seemed to co-relate this phenomenon to age (adults vs. young people). I think that co-relation may be due to the time it takes to absorb cultural norms and values.

So in conclusion, the next time you're lonely, remember two facts:

  1. You probably look busy to other people. That's probably why you're lonely.
  2. If you reach out to four random individuals, chances are extremely good that one of them has no close friends and is suffering silently.

I'll again quote Judith's excellent comment below:

If you want a friend, be a friend.

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How much do grades and GPA play a role in the amount of success you will have in life?

Answer by Carolyn Cho:

GPA during college is meaningless as it relates to success after college. No one at your job cares about what types of grades you received, they care about what type of performance you will be able to deliver in your work, on the job, in the present.

In ten years of applying to jobs, my GPA has been referred to exactly twice. This was a pretty rude awakening for me, as with limited internships and work experience, a high GPA was the only "achievement" I had as a college graduate.

There are two exceptions I can think of where GPA actually matters. One is if you plan to pursue a career in academia, such as becoming a professor at the university level. For this, you will need a PhD. PhD programs will consider your GPA seriously as it is an indication of your future performance as a doctoral student. As getting a PhD is essentially being a professional student, this makes sense.

The other exception are those rotational programs you see advertised by many large companies and consulting firms, in which recent college grads get rotated through different departments for one year. These programs are quite competitive and often ask for a minimum GPA to narrow down the pool of applicants.

Again, your GPA is meaningless in terms of predicting how much success you will have in your life post-graduation. If there is a correlation between high G.P.A. and high success, this is because the personality type likely to have high grades (hardworking, competitive) are the same likely in a person to achieve professional and financial success.

The person drives the success; high grades are simply a possible side effect.

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