Thoughts on Coronavirus & Coding

(Note: For anyone who is worrying about what to do regarding Coronavirus in the United States, I urge you to visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html).    If you are outside the US, feel free to consult your country’s Coronavirus guidelines.  If you have Coronavirus, please consult your doctor for advice.   I do not offer any sort of medical advice/legal; information posted here is purely opinion and not representative of my team or JavaScriptLA and sponsors.  That all out of the way, back to the blog post:

It’s been a busy weekend

What does coding have to do with Coronavirus? I guess I’ll explain my thoughts. 

First off, just writing more so to blog on the current events that are happening right now. Despite the fact that this group is more so about JavaScript and programming, I think as a community leader, it’s also important to blog on major event that impacts everyone part of this group.

I am like you all, just watching the situation unfold. I don’t know necessarily how all this will play out, but I think it’s best everyone try to remain as calm and vigilant as possible.

Just like in programming, when you find an error — you are expected to think out all the steps logically that produced it, and then try to go through each step until you find the path that went wrong and ultimately correct it. I believe that same kind of thinking will help you survive this pandemic.

You can solve problems best in computer programming by being calm and collected. It’s definitely easy to get frustrated at the computer when things go wrong and curse the machine for making your life miserable. But to me, getting mad and cursing don’t really help — ultimately after your entire tirade, the problem is still there, still waiting for you to come to your senses and solve it. As I’ve mentioned before (when I was learning to program in my previous post), through experience, problems don’t care about your feelings.

Have you ever played any survival type video game? Have you noticed that the main character is usually calm and collected? No matter how gory the situation gets, the main character MUST go on. I was playing Call of Duty World War II the other day, and the first scene is a re-enactment of D-Day. You and your comrades in battle are on your way to fight the Germans in the Battle of Normandy, only to suddenly have half your team killed before even reaching shore. As you look at your friends now dead, some of them limbless, your commander instructs you that you MUST follow the mission and get to the wall, so you can help the others take down the barriers to fight the Germans.

Fonds d’écran Call of Duty WW2 Wallpaper

In seeing that re-enactment, I thought, wow, if that was me– how would I react? Especially if I was with all my friends and saw them die one by one? It’s so impressive that these people who fought these wars carried on, and WON the war.

War is hell for sure, and I’m not advocating it at all. I’m not even suggesting that we have one nor try to start preparing for one. But that said, it’s VERY naive to think you can just be at peace at all times. You must train yourself to be a rationale thinker at the very least, no matter how crazy you feel emotionally in your head.

So that leads me to my next point of discussion, which is to use your brain as best as possible. Though people are panicking around you and clearing out grocery stores, you must look at even that as a potential “bug”.

If you saw your computer having a kernel panic, how would you react to it? Most of you would just restart the machine. However, if you look closer sometimes you can read the error that caused the kernel panic in the diagnostic report; and find that it was a singular program causing the bad behavior. If you stop that program, the computer resumes to normal. Maybe it’s not that simple, perhaps it’s something worse; but the process remains the same, you’d just look through all your logs until you find the offending bug and then stop it.

Kernel Panic Again

Applying this to people clearing out grocery stores, stop and think. What happens if you add to the panic? Well, lol, you’re going to cause others to also panic around you. Suppose you also start clearing out grocery stores and then post pictures to social media. Others will see that and start doing what you did, and hence you have people standing in a line outside Costco that stretches 1/4 of a mile long (JUST TO GET IN).

What if you choose not to panic buy, but only buy what you need? What if you choose not to post to social media? Well you are one less person adding to the hysteria, and perhaps your circle of friends on social media will feel bored there aren’t enough pandemic posts, log off and go back to living their lives regularly.

Just like in an algorithm, things can be exponential, factorial, linear, constant, etc depending on how we “program” (set) our lives. If you act in ways that affect your surroundings in a way that causes exponential danger, you ARE THE BUG. Stop yourself, and think.

Programs can be factorial, exponential, linear, logarithmic, constant, etc. (Stack Overflow)

It also helps to think rationally about the information you consume on the internet (as well in real life). Suppose you see a video of people dying in the streets, with blood coming out of their lungs? Suppose you see crows flying everywhere in the sky, looking like a plot out of a bad Hollywood B horror movie? Suppose some guy on your favorite Youtube channel told you that you need to start buying more guns and supplies, and be ready to take down your neighbors lest they might try to kill you. How would you react? Do you react with terror? If you did, how would that affect your “world” around you?

What if you reacted instead to this information as a computer programmer would to a bug in the program? Let’s try this as an exercise:

Videos of people dying!

Hmm.. where? Near me? (No.).

How did they die? (I don't know, maybe I could look for more video on the subject rather than just going off the info in this video; perhaps it was edited in a way to just make it look like this).

Oh having more info, I realize that they didn't die! They just collapsed. I have no idea what happened after that. Perhaps someone with a heart rescued them? I don't know since the person filming this video was too busy filming instead of aiding this person.

Are people like this in my area? If I was suffering, could I count on others to help me out? No? Hmm, maybe I should move to another community where people actually do care about each other.

But no one cares about each other! It's every man, woman, child for themselves! This conspiracy theorist on the internet told me for the last 12 months to start preparing for war!!

Is this a true statement? In the last 12 months, have you seen your friends, family, neighbors act extremely selfish, and start isolating themselves, bunkering down, preparing for war? Has anyone been more hostile and hateful to you in the last 12 months? If yes, what have you done about it? Why did you wait 12 months? Could you have changed your friends, maybe your job, sought guidance from others, talked to police about your own safety, changed where you lived, etc?

What if everyone around you was just calm, normal, cool and collected? Perhaps even friendly? What if no one was conspiring to take you down in a time of war? What if it was all in your head, because you filled it with information you downloaded into your brain from a person on the Internet? What if that person got RICH filling your mind with fear while you gave yourself more stress and anxiety for 12 months?

Are you starting to get the picture here? Does this all make sense?

My point is — you ARE very much in control of your own LIFE program (despite what others might tell you or want you to believe — fear is a great way to sell; so recognize that). To me, as a coder especially, you are gifted with tools and a way of thinking that works already for the computer world and would work GREAT for your real world when applied. Use your developer tools to help you debug your life better; and you will live better.   Adjust the way you consume information too; just like a computer needs a good program, you need good information to help you make better decisions.  If you don’t have it, start finding ways to have it in your life.  Then help others as well.

But, Vijay, you’re not panicking enough! The virus is coming and already killed 1000s of people!

Again, where? Who? What can you do about it? Think?

Suppose you are right in your panic, and I should be more riled up. Everyone is dying around you, and I notice my neighbors are also coughing up blood. Do we die too? Perhaps nothing can save us.

Do you die? Take out a gun and kill yourself? Ever seen the ending to that movie The Mist? If not, and you want to see the movie — stop reading now and come back and finish this blog afterwards. For those of you who just want to see the end, here’s the Youtube link:

**** SPOILER ENDING DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT ME RUINING THE MOVIE ****

As you can tell from that scene, it’s pretty awful. The guy kills his entire family but runs out of bullets for himself, only to see that the terrible “Mist” has now been finally contained by the people who remained vigilant. Had he held out for 30 more seconds, he would have still been with his family.

***** END SPOILER ****

Okay, if you read this far, I’m assuming you saw the clip and / or don’t care about spoilers.

So yeah, my point is that you have to remain vigilant even in the face of death. You can’t just give up and die. What will you do if you have family? What kind of legacy will you leave for them? Would it be better to die or use your brain in a way that can save others? Again, imagine what would our society be like today if people who fought in wars just gave up?

My point here is that just because a situation is bad doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Again, think logically, rationally, and of course ethically. You still have time– how much time do you have before you die? Unknown, no matter if a virus exists or not.

So do something with your time now — to me I see this pandemic as a chance to really THINK properly about your life and how you want to spend it. Will you contribute something of value?

Plenty of people are without food/water right now. How can you use your brain to help them? How can you you use your coding skills? Can you hack to help? Can you contribute to an open source project to help others? What if you are still a junior, and barely know how to code “Hello World”? Can you still help? Sure — maybe help someone else more senior by taking on the coding that feels monotonous to them — aka CSS/HTML.

Help your family member learn math/algorithms so they can act in ways that don’t exponentially make the world around them WORSE. Even if you are a junior, you can still control how you digest information coming in from the web / media around you.  You can still help find BETTER information for those who need it.   You don’t need to know JavaScript to do that.

You can also exercise compassion towards others. Together as a society, UNITED, we can overcome a lot more than every man, woman, child for themselves.  So use that sort of thinking to help you and your own family solve much more complicated problems.  If we all start acting selfish, we will only cause more problems that lead to more exponential like disasters.   In fact, part of what you are seeing now in the media is exacerbated by media and bad actors who want to profit.   Why doesn’t anyone report good news? Because — it doesn’t sell.  If you exercise compassion, things get boring and people go back to living their very normal lives without fear.   Isn’t that a great thing?  Don’t you want to have normalcy in your life, so you can focus on things that matter instead — like enjoying programming, hanging out with family/friends, having fun, going and visiting cool places?  

Doesn’t it suck that airports around the world have closed down, and people are less trusting of each other?  Doesn’t it suck that we can’t go outside and enjoy the good things we used to a few months back without concern?  Would decisions you make from now forward be to better society or will you just keep making decisions that harm yourself and others?

Hmm Vijay, if I start helping others — would that benefit me? Would my peers/family members respect me more, perhaps remember that I helped them out in times of a crisis?  I think you know the answer.

Would that old lady in the Costco line feel a little more safe/trustful of people if I helped her also have toilet paper instead of hoarding it for myself?

If I made some kind of program/video that helped people learn how to better take care of themselves while isolated, would that help society?

Check out this website, made by Avi Schiffman (a high schooler) that gives live updates on Coronavirus and how people can protect themselves.  Pretty cool.  What could you also contribute?  

“You are the change you want to see in the world” — Ghandi.

Program the change you want to see in your world :). We’ll be here with you doing exactly that, even if Coronavirus slows down our meets in person, we’ll still be online.

Thanks — see you on our Discord and Slack, Youtube as well.

Vijay,

JavaScriptLA Head Organizer