October 2, 2000
12:15 PM   Subscribe

In general, if you want to use drugs and keep your job then become a programmer.
posted by gluechunk (14 comments total)
Or an exec.
The biggest danger, say insiders, is that such policies are fostering a laissez faire culture about illegal drugs.
"Laissez faire" huh? Very dangerous. God forbid we should actually "leave people alone to do what they choose".
posted by sylloge at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2000

I've noticed the tremendous "logic" behind arbitrary testing policies on countless occasions. My sister had all sorts of fun and exciting bodily fluids sampled just to get a job as a supermarket bagger; meanwhile, my friend toiling away at a biotech place merrily spends his weekends in pot and/or ecstasy-induced mental fogs with no job-related repercussions whatsoever. 'Cuz if a deadly viral pathogen gets out, no big deal, just so long as no one smashes our Twinkies with canned goods, right?
posted by youhas at 12:43 PM on October 2, 2000

I take it that article is connected to this article on the "rampant" drug use in technology companies. Unfortunately, the article seems long on scare quotes like "I see programmers who start their day by stirring meth into their cup of coffee," and "I believe my son was a victim of the dot-com boom" and "Drugs are the dirty little secret of the dot-com world" and short on actual data besides a general increase in cocaine consumption, which the article attempts to connect to the rise of dot-coms. This is tenuous at best, what with correlation not being equal to causation.
posted by icathing at 1:31 PM on October 2, 2000

This whole "the entire technology industry is on drugs!" story seems to be equal parts imagination, wild-eyed extrapolation, and wishful thinking.

If there is a "laissez-faire" attitude about techies using drugs, it's part of a broader "do whatever the hell you want so long as you get the work done" attitude that is one of the tech industry's greatest contributions to the business world. Really, now, what business is it of my employer's what I do with my free time, so long as when I come in to work, I'm in good enough shape to get my work done?

The thing that makes me most sick about this article is how they talk about mandatory drug testing like it's a good thing rather than a flagrant, invasive, and unnecessary violation of civil liberties.

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:41 PM on October 2, 2000

The real factor here is simply the marketplace. A programmer with a good reputation can often choose between job offers. If one requires a drug test and one doesn't, all other things being equal, which would you choose? In fact, I turned down a job this summer (with a Silicon Valley based company) because it required a drug test, and I was fortunate enough to have other options.

I've taken a pre-employment drug screen (for an Austin based company), and I really shouldn't have. I should have recognized that it says something (bad) about an employer and just said no. As a result of that miserable experience (and the drug test itself had to be done twice and was also a miserable experience), I have a new policy of not providing potential employers with bodily fluids.

posted by astrogirl at 4:11 PM on October 2, 2000

Some of the most creative and imaginative people in Silicon Valley are that because of their drug use. I belive Mr. Steve Jobs enjoyed acid in his youth, Apple created the MOUSE, GUI and probably a whole lot of other things i don't know about.
posted by Zool at 4:13 PM on October 2, 2000

Apple created the MOUSE, GUI and probably a whole lot of other things i don't know about.

In which case, they were doing the drugs that make you forget the past, since Doug Engelbart and Xerox PARC were behind the two things you mentioned.
posted by holgate at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2000

Were Doug Engelbart and Xerox PARC on drugs?
posted by thirteen at 4:59 PM on October 2, 2000

I stand corrected, but i do believe it was Apple who first made the public use the mouse and the gui.
posted by Zool at 5:28 PM on October 2, 2000

what business is it of my employer's what I do with my free time, so long as when I come in to work, I'm in good enough shape to get my work done?

When I was in my twenties I felt exactly the same way. By the time I was 35, occasionally I wasn't in good enough shape to get my work done. When I was forty I ended up in rehab. Best thing that ever happened to me. Not intending to imply this will be you, but it was me. Recreational drug and alcohol use seems cool when you're young and bulletproof. It is, however, insidious and progressive. Please be careful.
posted by netbros at 5:39 PM on October 2, 2000

Despite being a bulletproof twentysomething myself, my problems have never been with using drugs and/or alcohol to excess. By and large, any performance hits I incur at work are from staying up 'til the wee hours of the morning, posting on sites such as this one. On the other hand, I've never heard of an employer making a "lifestyle screening process" that would clue them in to such a potential problem, despite the fact that it's probably far worse for me than toking out after dinner and getting a full eight hours of sleep every night....
posted by youhas at 12:51 AM on October 3, 2000

If there's an increase in drug usage among the Silicon Valley set (which apparently there is) it can probably be explained away by two factors:

1. They work too fucking hard.

2. They make too much fucking money.

Other than that, they're the same as any other average American, as far as drugs go. They may be better able to rationalize their drug use, or justify it to their friends, though.

posted by Jart at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2000

Were Doug Engelbart and Xerox PARC on drugs?

Not explicitly, but y'know, all that toner development going on had to kick out some kind of chemicals into the general environment...

posted by cCranium at 8:51 AM on October 3, 2000

And remember, you can drink all you like. No one tests for that, and it *certainly* results in more lost productivity than any illegal drug.
posted by astrogirl at 10:56 AM on October 3, 2000

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