I had my first contact with the PHP community in late 2005 or early 2006; I can’t remember exactly when it was. Before that point, I’d spent the better part of my life struggling with being bullied and depressed and to some degree still do. If my peers didn’t show me ostracism, they mostly showed me indifference. I often felt like my life had little meaning and that I had no one I could relate to.
Then I found the #phpc channel on the Freenode IRC network. I had the honor and privilege of meeting too many individuals to list here. They didn’t belittle me with ego, much as I might have put some of them on pedestals and perhaps still do. They didn’t admonish me for my lack of knowledge or experience at the time. They didn’t laugh or insult me when I asked questions and showed desire to learn like one might expect in other communities.
They welcomed me. They befriended me. They supported me in my endeavors to become better, as a professional and as a person. They made me feel liked, accepted, and respected. They made me feel like a part of something greater, a community, a family of friends. If everyone could have this, I believe the world would be a much better place.
That’s why I’m so sad when I see public displays that I think might prevent people within that community from sharing my feelings or discourage them from taking part in it. I know what it’s like to feel excluded, marginalized, demoralized, degraded, and discouraged. I don’t wish that on anyone, least of all people I know and respect within this community. I feel that people shouldn’t be singled out or made to feel inferior or objectified. Gender, gender identity, race, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation — no one should be made to feel like this based on those attributes.
I’m a very sympathetic and empathetic person. I feel things very deeply. I try to consider carefully who I might hurt when I say or do something. I may not always succeed, but I try anyway. In any situation, I do my best to understand where other people are coming from and what their position is. I don’t do this for its own sake, but because I know what it’s like to be hurt and I don’t want to inflict that on another human being. And I especially don’t want it inflicted on others in my beloved community either. And I’m not the only one.
PHP as a language irks me sometimes. Heck, a coworker of mine started phpsadness.com and it’s difficult to disagree with him on many of the problems that the language has. They don’t stop me from using it, though. I may have come for the technology 11 years ago, but I stayed for the community. And hopefully now, after reading this post, you understand why.