Concerned about boxes

Complaining, Software Testing

Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, The Testing Community, Women in IT, The future of Testers, LinkedIn articles and retweets.

Here’s what scares me the most about recent (and less recent) developments around these examples:

I don’t know who’s making all this happening.
Me, and almost everyone around me apparently share the same views.
Yet there’s an overwhelming number of people working against us.
Who are these people?
Why are their views different and why aren’t we hearing each other?

I often feel like I’m in a huge echo chamber. I keep getting the same things in my twitter-feed, slack channels, fora, mails, magazines,…

As a middle-class, white, European,… , non-religious,… , extravert, male, … , who tries (vehemently) not to be a dick, I look around and genuinely wonder: How could Trump ever get elected? Nothing in the media ever mentioned it to even be remotly possible.
I’m shocked that the UK voted “leave”, because I’d seen nothing but pro-stay voices all day. I’m getting a very one-sided view and it’s not helping anyone.

This happens every day:

  • I glance over a forum thread and think: “This discussion,… again?!”
  • Pull open a Slack channel and see someone replying: “What do you exactly mean by Test Cases?”
  • I click on a link about a new idiotic thing Trump did and can barely keep myself from screaming: “THEN HOW THE HELL DID HE GET ELECTED?!”
  • Open a “Testing is dead” article and find out that it actually means the opposite.

I’m seeing the same thing again and again. I wonder why nothing is changing.

There’s boxes everywhere: Racism is a problem. Sexism is a problem. Classism is a problem. Extremism, in all its different forms, is a problem. Most -isms are problems.
You’d think we’d all know by now. Hell, there’s enough examples to teach us.

But we like hearing the same thing. We like being right and having no conflicts.
Nice, simple, easy. Bliss.

After going through a very painful cynic stage, I realized that I need to get out of my echo chamber more. As much as I love the people near to me, it’s detrimental to all of us should we not pursue diversity. Even the diversity we may not like.

That’s what testing is, right?
Learning new things, new views, new ways of thinking, having a different mindset,
And using that information
To increase the chance of having better ideas, beliefs, thoughts for you
and people around you.

In my eyes, repetition, conformism,  truly is the enemy.


An interesting thought I had whilst rereading: in our testing field, at least we’re having the discussions. We have various media which we can largely control. Fora, slack, twitter,… We should cherish that and draw upon its potential. Find the people we’re not hearing. Find out what they have to say… and learn.


5 thoughts on “Concerned about boxes

  1. Nice post. I have some ideas why. It is not about being right, it is about taking an action. Meet me at Slack, if you want to talk more about taking action and not taking it 🙂


  2. Thanks for this – great article! One thing I have been thinking about in this regard is around the question of who the primary ‘gatekeepers’ are. We need to seek out those who are the smaller voices in the less visible places if we really want to understand the diversity of the world.

    Another thing that is VERY hard for any group to do, but which I think is absolutely vital if we want to have true diversity is to think about how we ‘police’ conversation. Are there certain words that can’t be said, or certain ideas that make everyone scream blasphemy? It is one thing to invite diverse opinions, and quite another to create an environment where differences are allowed, accepted and learned from. Hard to do, but still worth pursuing.


    1. Thank you for your comment, Dave.
      I’ll be sure to look for those gatekeepers you mention. Listening to different ideas and values are equally important as shaping and expressing your own.

      About the policing thing. I think I’m hearing about it having happened more than actually seeing it happening myself.
      Though I can think of a few instances where I may have seen something that resembles it (and may have done so myself), I do believe that those instances were with genuine good intent.
      I’ve yet to see someone being ridiculed on the fora, slacks or … that I’m part of. (though I have on Twitter) But maybe I’m not looking deep enough.
      I do see a lot of interesting discussion which can get rather heated sometimes.

      The funny thing that comes to mind, is that those words or concepts that are so vigorously fought in our craft (I dare not say community) are anti-diversity in nature.
      Things such as ‘Best Practices’ or ‘the silver bullet Test Automation’ will trigger a strong reaction from many testers. I know I react to them.

      Meaningful, valuable discussion with good intentions is necessary.
      But it shouldn’t come at the cost of personal attacks, ridicule and ostracising.

      I’m still in the process of exploring and figuring out what’s important and how to achieve it. Thanks for your input!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah strong reactions are a part of the difficulty of this. I have them too (I think anyone who is passionate about something is going to have strong reactions around it). Being able to look past that and accept that those you strongly disagree with still have (usually) good reasons for believing what they do is helpful.

        There is of course some extremism which we can leave off the table, but my default assumption is that most people are trying to do the best they can with what they know. So, for example, when someone says ‘best practice’ I can see the harmful (probably unintended) side effects of that, but I also (try to) assume they are trying to communicate in a way that they see as being helpful and in trying to understand where and why they see it as helpful I can sometimes gain new insights into my own thinking and blind spots.

        Lots to explore and figure out here. I’m sure it will be a fun journey 🙂


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