Stress, is it progress?

I’ve been arguing with myself about the matter a lot recently. Is stress the right key metric to guide effort?

There once was a time when I worked for a company where stress was the key modus operandus. People are stressed in new and ingenious ways. Computer hardware, operating system, and other software are used, reused and abused to the extreme of human imagination. It isn’t quite stated rule but is de facto law. Fear, uncertainty and doubt, blindly enforced by infants of the industry… mantras repeated quite abstract from their original context and application, or even some of their own concoction:

kill the bug! cut its throat! add a test! bash it in!

Later, these infants grew up, and the company grew up… now I am left to wonder if I made a mistake not accepting all those great practices as my own and had a great time with it?

Roughly, because only paranoid survives, the idea is to place high cognitive load and emotional load on employees. Systems are complicated by multiplicity of undocumented bugs and “standard procedures” employees are essentially punished for not knowing industry non-standards by means of semi-public derisions(eg PR review comments emailed to whole company) to formal performance warnings and unexplained terminations. The added emotional stress induced by stern barks of reprimand, taught to management by relevant corporate department during training, hurts a lot and mainly detracts from meaningful knowledge transfer.

The problem with all this stuff not killing you isn’t that it makes some people better. Mainly it really scars participants. Higher than normal cognitive load makes people more likely to make stupid decisions. I look onto my youthful coworker some times and suspect that I have been accidentally transported to a cross between Harry Porter and the Modern Times… so engrossed in these highly secretive incantations… and fighting an ever lasting fight between good and evil inside repetitive mechanical work for long hours… and then after that we exert our mental and physical selves even more on the treadmill, marathon runs and bike trips, ski slopes or in deep meditation.

Is anybody able to think objectively about normal human experience and sensations? What is normal? Is there a chance that all this stress is the normal and derangement really is just normal human specialization? Is there truth behind the interpretation of PhD as permanently head damaged? (Different school on another beaten path) Are we more susptible to mental influence if we are not stressed? Are we more prone to errors if we are not stressed? Are we less fulfilled if we are less stressed? Do our brains become less efficient at present task if we are not stressed? Or are the opposites true? is it inhuman to want to veg-out on the sofa, kid in tow, watching some cartoon, everyday? I feel like I must have grown up on the wrong side of the moon to need 10 hours of that after work everyday.

How can I tell? How do I know if this is real or another stress enduced hallucination or some kind of mental break down from my inability to accept this reality? How can I be sure what I perceive as coordinated systematic attack on a population of employees is actually that and not an artifact of my observation or just conventional human society operating norms?

How do I know if this isn’t a simulation made by a super AI that was created because we humans stressed the system too much?

Do you know?

Are you sure?

Can you tell me how I can be sure?

If I’m not an engineer any more, the AI probably ate me brains alive! All you can see is an organic exoskeleton a computer acquired some time second decade of 21st century… or rather TS > 1262348789000000000000000

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