The Green Boxes of Burnout

I was doomscrolling through twitter when I noticed Github was trending. While checking out why it was trending I noticed this tweet:

And, nothing against Eddie, but my entire being cringed at that image. It shows (on an otherwise entirely shades of green image) 5 days out 77 days as time where Eddie didn’t make a single ‘contribution’ on Github. No commits, not wiki edits, no issues, nothing. For 5 days, out of 77, and he claimed this is the time needed to recharge and come back stronger.

Let’s pump the hustle brakes for a moment.


Source image from original tweet. Mirrored in case the tweet is deleted.

All else being equal, in 77 days, we can roughly expect there to be 23 non-working days (including holidays, on average), so if we just kept to the capitalist maxim of ‘putting in 40’, you should see 18 more grey days than exist on that image.

Even if Eddie followed the Protestant work ethic and worked every day but Sunday, you still should see ~10 grey blocks on that image.

But instead, what we see is that absent a few days (not even consecutive), Eddie went full tilt. I tried visiting his github profile to see if I could match it up, but none of the years of contributions matched the image, and incidentally it’s not relevant to my larger point, which isn’t about Eddie.

It’s about us and about the myths we cling to as reality.

Writing Code isn’t valuable. Writing Lots of code less so.

Github profiles optimize for writing code, not solving problems.

Hustle culture optimizes for being busy over solving problems.

The irony is that to solve problems, we have to step away from the code, and step away from the outward signs that we’re hustling.

Hustle leads to burnout, and to quote Carl Richards: Time off is a prerequisite for good work, not a reward for it.

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