It’s not my fault
I had to write an SQL query today because someone decided that a software bug was not their fault.
I had to write an SQL query today. This is not a good thing. I am not the kind of person you want writing SQL queries.
A little background: Drupal has a module called Views. This module, as I understand it, creates a nice GUI for making an SQL query of a Drupal database and then displaying the results of that query in a friendly way. The results of a View-based query can be sorted in a number of ways before they are displayed. One of the sort options is “random” – basically, randomly arrange my results and then display them.
I’m pretty sure I’ve used the random View sorting successfully before. However, in the latest version of Views for the latest version of Drupal, the random sort doesn’t quite work. Sure, it works for users who are logged into the site, but it doesn’t work for users who are not logged in – basically, everyone in the world but me a few special people. That’s a problem. Maybe it’s not a huge problem but it’s a significant one for me and the other people who use Views. I figured this out when I searched the Drupal website for an answer to this problem. I found answer, but not the one I hoped for. The thread of messages between users and the module contributor boiled down to an “it’s not my fault, so it’s not my problem” message from the contributor.
But it makes me think. We live in a world where people don’t really care about solving problems, especially if it’s not a problem that has any direct personal effect. The most important effort seems to be making sure that blame doesn’t fall where it’s not wanted or where it might be inconvenient. This is why politics in the United States has resulted in a failed government. Very few people are interested in actually solving anyone else’s problems. They just want to make sure they aren’t blamed for those problems, because blame might hurt the chance of being re/elected.
Is it a lack of empathy? Our society has been fractured into camps of Us and Them. Programmers and Users. Rich and Poor. We mentally compartmentalize the other so that we can hold them separate and (in some cases) dehumanize them. So there’s no empathy. No one can see the world from another person’s eyes or walk in their shoes. Did I leave out a common metaphor? Empathy leads one person to help another. Empathy gives a person the incentive to solve a problem that doesn’t directly affect him or her. It creates mutual understanding upon which democratic institutions of republican (little r) government need to be based. “We the People” is not “Me and These Other Idiots”. Except it is. The Drupal Community is not “Contributors and Users”. But it is.
I realize it’s much easier to have empathy for a person rather than a group of people. I’ve often said that individual people are kind, considerate, and thoughtful. Groups of people are stupid, irrational, and dangerous. I don’t like crowds. I also am not fond of generalizations. Generalizations allow us to mentally group people. But individuals aren’t that simple. They defy generalization and classification just as much as they might conform to them. So the Views contributor in question might simply not want to have to deal with what might be a major programming challenge for what may seem to him like a minor problem. Perhaps the effort doesn’t justify the ends.
Maybe he should have had a little empathy for my (and other users) problem and told us that instead of “it’s not my fault”. Maybe he could have given us a little guidance about where to find a solution. Something.
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Fortunately, there were a few other people on the Drupal website who did try to offer solutions. The Drupal Community isn’t as fractured and disfunctional as, say, the politics that has corrupted and ruined government. If you’re interested in knowing some more about this problem with Drupal Views, you can see the issue page. Unfortunately, the solution from the Views contributors seem to be “update the documentation so people know about the problem”. Some of the community members have offered potentially effective solutions, although none of them is appropriate for what I wanted to do.