Advice is a form of nostalgia

August 25, 2016

This morning, while driving to work, I turned on the radio, and an old song was playing: "Everybody's Free - Baz Luhrmann." This song is about an elderly person dispensing his advice to a fictional class of youngsters. As the song beautifully progresses, it reaches the climax, where he is talking about advice itself.

"Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth."

Being a young software developer, I appreciate this a lot. You often hear veterans talking about "experiencing the past," how good it was back in the days. What fun we had working our asses off when software development was still craftsmanship! To conclude, all was perfectly in order.

But, the truth is, things weren't perfect back then; projects were failing, bugs were created, and deadlines were missed. This is normal because projects are complicated, scopes do change, priorities do shift, etc.

What has changed is the speed of change and expectations. And, as techniques improve and become less expense, small startups join the fight. We see small companies consisting of a few lonely wolves working their butts off and kicking the big enterprises in the ****! They tend neither to look to the past nor the present but to the future.

I am sharing this as a message to myself in 20 years: do not force your beliefs on talented young people. Help them, support them, and give them your honest experience. And, above all, be proud of what you accomplished back in the days!

Jeroen Bellen
Jeroen Bellen