I met this developer employed by a big company, he seems to be happily sitting at his desk watching time pass by. Enjoying what David Graeber recently described as a Bullshit Job. Cashing in big bucks in a race to the bottom of counter-productivity.
Now I do not want to be judgmental, it is his choice and right to piss his life away in an environment that sounds like intellectual death to me. I can not understand but I will accept. What I want to talk about however is something else he mentioned.
He says he could be doing open source work in the evenings but that he is not good enough to produce meaningful work that would affect the world. And I want to call bullshit on this. I have no pretense that my work is affecting the world at large directly, but one thing I am convinced of is that there is enough world-changing work to be done and not enough people doing it.
I visualize this as a pyramid of cluelessness. At the bottom of the pyramid are many people having no clue how they can help move things forward, and further up those few that do have their mind set on specific goals.
The time people have is a finite resource, but by taking care of the small boring things you can in a way donate time to the system and enable people higher up the pyramid to do more meaningful work. Fix a small issue here and there. Do the crap work so that nobody else has to. If everyone at the bottom did their share the ones on top would have a ton more time to direct real change.
I look at this from the angle of open-source because I am knee-deep in that world. However I imagine it applies to any sort of labor that is not made for personal gain but rather the greater good. So go out there and help someone help the world!