Sometimes, it can be a little difficult to tell when you should be investigating a new line of work, but in the life of one software developer, the case seems very clear. They have stepped over the thin line between function and dysfunction and possibly may have destroyed their career in the bargain. Perhaps, though, that was their goal all along.
Recent posts on Boing Boing (http://boingboing.net/) and Slashdot (http://slashdot.org) point out the story of a Macintosh software developer who was so fed up with the pirating of his software that he programmed in a “nuclear” defense. Instead of simply disabling the software when presented with one of several, known, pirated serial numbers, the developer included code that would delete a user’s home directory (i.e. all the documents, pictures, music, preferences and settings). Imagine, weeks of work, thousands of hours, financial records, family photos, purchased music. Poof! Gone!
Now, you might say, “Well, they were pirating this developer’s software. They deserve it!” Do they, though? There are many ways that such a scheme can backfire. Suppose the software was installed by a co-worker, friends or child. Suppose a registered user grabbed an incorrect serial number by mistake. What if there is a bug on the software that triggers this bomb even when a correct serial number is supplied? Is wholesale data destruction really a correct response to software piracy? I think the answer is no.
I do not support software piracy, of course, but it seems clear that this developer has not only destroyed their own career and business, but may have opened themselves to legal action, up to and including felony charges, if this software bomb is ever activated. The destruction of data is taken very seriously by the courts today. While I am not a lawyer, I believe the developer’s actions could easily be construed as computer sabotage in many jurisdictions.
What this developer has truly done, though, is very clearly illustrate the need to look for another line of work. There is obviously some deep and fundamental dissatisfaction with this current career. They are angry and upset, but, like many people, the anger is directed outwards instead of being used as an impetus for deep, personal thought about career.
Each business has its issues and software piracy is certainly a concern of any software developer, yet this action is clearly self-destructive. No one who is aware of this issue will ever install another piece of software from this developer, out of fear of what might happen. Instead of withdrawing gracefully from a career that they no longer respect, they have decided to go out in a blaze of infamy. Is this really the way that they want to be remembered? We cannot speak for this one disgruntled worker, but we can use this story to ask ourselves, are we on the same destructive career path?
You shouldn’t wait for self-destructive behavior such as this to indicate when it is time for you to find a new job or career. Yet, we often see signs of such career suicide in the workplace — workers who not only do worse and worse at their job over time, but also start actively sabotaging their companies and fellow employees. These people seem intent on destroying not only their own careers, but those around them, as well. The truth is, though, you damage yourself far more than any of the others. In some cases, you might not just be destroying a particular job, you might be destroying your entire career.
If you are unsatisfied with your career, direct your energies to finding something new, not in destroying everything you have created. Don’t let your anger or despair control your actions. Delve deep into your thoughts and try to discover the source of your anger. Do you feel mistreated? Do you feel threatened? Are you just tired of this career? I can assure you, you will find no joy in destruction…of yourself or others. You will find only a yawning emptiness that you will find all the more difficult to fill. We all need a career in order to survive but keep in mind the destruction of one career can never insure the creation of another.