Mental atrophy in the valley

I feel like I can totally relate to this guy !!


How has this affected me? I’ve mentally atrophied. I now feel like I can’t talk about any subject with more than a centimeter of depth.

A half a decade ago, I could dive with you to the penetralia of convergence theorems of hypergeometric series, but now I cannot. Even my programming has taken a toll even though I do it every day. I find myself abstaining from studying advanced topics in programming and computer science, and instead sticking to this comfort zone of what I know. I contemplate blaming this last issue on the fact that Silicon Valley is quietly cutthroat; you need to be the best at what you do in order to land jobs at e.g. Google. If I stay in my comfort zone, I am able to keep small unimportant details of a particular language, tool, or implementation in L1 brain cache, which proves useful during interviews. (Feel free to see my last post Interviewing In Silicon Valley on this subject.)

I find both my attention span when I read books, and my ability to comprehend them, has at least decimated. Previously simple equations describing neural network behavior, like
∂E∂Wj,i=−ajεif′(Wi⋅a), take a while longer to reason about.

In order to repair myself, one of perhaps two things needs to happen: I need to rethink my lifestyle and re-evaluate the boundaries of what I can and cannot do (e.g., can I force a more balanced work-life proportion without getting fired?), or I need to change my domain of work (e.g., get a degree and go into academia or a research lab). Traditional Silicon Valley software engineering certainly isn’t a fulfilling, or healthy, way of life for me right now, but neither of those options appear to be very easy.

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