(Originally written in 2016, long before pandemics, mass civil unrest and quarantines. I no longer work in tech or with my hackers, but I do stay in the loop)
What does #hackerlife actually mean? For me?
Hacking is a statement of quiet revolt. If something is X and I can make it better by turning it into Y-- that’s hacking.
#hackerlife is unconventional living-- at scale. It’s subversive. It’s defiant. It’s revolution.
That’s why I love hacking. I’m a romantic about revolution. I blame it on watching Star Wars too many times as a kid and my middle school obsession with Les Miserables. Fuck the system-- any system.
I understand that we need certain systems to survive as a species and function as a society. I actually don’t think I’d enjoy any part of an actual revolution, at least not at the moment (I haven’t built my off-grid bug out, tiny home yet-- then maybe. After I learn how to grow shit to eat. - Author's note-- I'm living through the revolution now without my bug out tiny home. Fuck me).
I’ll conform just enough to keep one foot in normalcy and food on my table. But I’ll always look for another way-- something outside of the system. Any system.
And that’s why #hackerlife is so juicy to me. Now let me clarify, I’m in no way an experienced, techy-type hacker. I’m an utter newb when it comes to hacking with computers. I get the concepts and can sometimes follow the conversation, but my tech hacking skills are zero. Social engineering-- I got that. I’m part of an amazing community of brilliant white-hat hackers and their work blows my mind.
My hacker community embraces this normie and are teaching me the ins and outs of their world.
Yet, when I look at most of my adult life-- it’s been one giant hack. That’s what makes my life so interesting and so fucking different. I’ve hacked life-- and lived entirely outside of normal social confines.
In fact, the few times I did try to conform (mainly out of romantic relationships) it ended in a giant ball of flames.
There’s a negative connotation with the word “hack” and that’s partially the media’s fault (and everyone else who doesn’t bother to understand what hacking really is). We only hear about black-hat hackers attacking our technology and our infrastructure.
We never hear about the white hat hackers fighting terrorists, destroying human traffickers or nation states trying to do harm through technology. We never hear about people hacking their bodies to achieve more optimal health-- bypassing the western medical system all together. We never hear about the good that happens when people hack a system and make it better.
We only hear about the bad. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of evil hacking out there, but there’s also plenty of good hacking happening every moment of every day.
Maybe if we all hacked our lives just a little, we’d find more time, more space and more happiness.
Maybe if we all hacked just a little bit, our world might open up and all the bastards destroying the world we live in would have to stop destroying the systems we rely upon to line their own pockets.
If we all just hacked a tiny bit, maybe the revolution would happen with love and intention and not destruction and isolation.
Are you ready to be a hacker? You should be.