David Heinemeier Hansson

January 7, 2024

Pessimism is on the retreat

I feel it in the feed. I feel it in the discourse. I smell it in the vibes. 
Much of the pessimism that once was is lost, for none now wish to remember it.

We’ve lived through some strange years in the recent past. Much stranger than any I can remember since my earliest, solid memories of the broader world from the mid-80s.

I’m not going to rehash the pandemic, Trump, wokeness, social media, or any of the many other perceived or real causes. I’m just going to remark that it’s been weird.

But not universally weird. Not hippie weird, for example. Not dreaming broadly of a better world, singing songs, smoking mild pot, and submitting to flower power weird. No, a pessimistic weird. An everything-sucks-all-the-time-and-there’s-nothing-to-do-about-it weird. A depressing, nihilistic, no-end-in-sight weird.

That’s been the vibe, at least as I’ve received it, over the last half decade at least. But I think maybe the fever is finally breaking. The dark clouds of pessimism are parting from optimistic rays of light.

I’m not sure what to think of e/acc or any of the other branded versions of this optimism, but I do think they're seeping into the groundwater, and we’re seeing sprouts everywhere with brighter, greener hues of positivity.

I like it. And I especially like it because it feels like I spent a fair amount of my own time in earlier years stuck in that pessimistic rut. This alternative is just better.

And now, like a former smoker, these heavy clouds of endless pessimism just seem extra suffocating. In the most existential sort of way: Snuffing out the hope we need to carry forward.

Maybe this is just how the pendulum has to swing. That we go through times of pessimism to correct for previous excesses of optimism. Maybe this is just the way it has to be. But holy moly am I ready for the reversal.

I don’t know where you are right now on the “it’s over” vs “we’re so back” spectrum, but if it isn’t near the latter, I think you should just force yourself to try it out in 2024. It’s mostly in your head anyway.

I’m going to try to stick with “we’re so back” and live up to its aspirations. Let’s go, Gandalf!

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.