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The benefits and drawbacks of coding

9 May 2020

I’ve observed Tim Ferriss and David Perell talk about the benefits of writing. They say it brings benefits to all other areas of your life. Coding is similar. It makes you better in all areas of your life. Coding is telling a computer what to do. When you try to code an idea, you find out how well you understand it. This is because the computer is merciless. Any flaw in your thinking will be exposed. The program will crash, or not give you the result you were hoping for. It’s easy to tell when you’re right or wrong. Results are visual, and easily verifiable. The website looks the way you want or it doesn’t. The algorithm outputs the correct result or it doesn’t. It’s binary. 1 or 0. Black or white.

Life isn’t black and white though. It has many different colors. Nothing is clear-cut.

Coding makes that less apparent. When you code you live this fantasy land where everything can be reduced into ones and zeros. When you are in situations that require nuance, it can be hard to perceive it and act accordingly.

When you seek out feedback from others it comes tangled in a mess of emotions and useless words. You have to figure out what someone really meant. But first, you have to get others to read your writing, which is a challenge in itself. With computers you don’t have to do that. You have an impartial critic at your disposal at all times.

This aspect of coding is also a drawback. Part of the process of writing is getting your writing read. You have to learn how to understand people. You have to find your audience. You have to learn how to touch others’ emotions, lead, instruct, and motivate. However, you can code in solitude. You can get feedback without seeking out others. Yeah, there’s Stack Overflow and code reviews. But you can get surprisingly far on your own, with just books and online resources.

Because of coding, I understand math better. I understand language better. I understand design better. I understand nature better. Concepts that eluded me before become crystal clear when I need to understand them to get the computer to do something I want.

Learning how to code has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.