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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2008 (Washington, D.C.) with: Hal Helms
Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2008 (Washington, D.C.) with: Hal Helms ( @halhelms )

People Don't Mind Being Used As Long As They Aren't Forgotten

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I've been meaning to write this post for years; but, I never really knew what I wanted to say on the matter. I still don't exactly - I just feel compelled to put something down on paper because this phrase won't get out of my head:

People don't mind being used as long as they aren't forgotten.

I'm not 100% sure where I heard this. I think maybe Clark Valberg said it. But, it could have been my dad. Or, it could have been something I saw in a movie. It's just sort of been there, forever, in the back of my mind.

This phrase has been top-of-mind for me lately because - as I discussed on the Working Code podcast - I've been working on the "legacy" platform at work. Or, to put it more acutely, I'm the last one working on the legacy platform at work. And, it's been super lonely. Many people disagree with the merits of actively improving an end-of-life platform; but, I believe that's beside the point of this conversation. As the last worker, I'm also - seemingly - the last one to care. Which means that when I build something for our customers and I go to show it to the team, I realize that no one is watching.

I don't work on the product for recognition, I do it for the customers. I absolutely love our customers. But, I'm only human; and, the desire to rejoice in the camaraderie of a job well done is an intensely innate human need.

Now, this is not intended to be a "woe is me" post - this a post about human connection and the power that human contact has on people's well-being. It reminds of a TED Talk that I watched over a decade ago. In the talk, Dr. Abraham Verghese looks at the power of physical contact; and, how it should be the next revolution in "modern" medicine:

It's a wonderful talk. No matter how many times I watch it, I'm always moved to tears. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to stop and give it a viewing.

The irony of all of this is that even as I am increasingly cognizant of the importance of human contact and acknowledgement, I still find it very hard to put into practice. My whole life, I've been an "out of sight out of mind" person. This isn't out of any sense of malevolence, I'm just an introvert that gets so mired in my own affairs that I quickly - and easily - forget that people exist outside my personal cone of focus.

So, I guess this post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else. I need to be better about connecting with and acknowledging the efforts of those around me. At work, in my marriage, in my personal relationships - I think we all yearn to be an important part of a tribe. And, creating the sense of belonging has to include both giving and receiving of appreciation.

Anyway, this is just emotional Ben being emotional. Happy Friday and have a wonderful holiday season!


As I mentioned above, it's been very lonely working on the legacy platform. But, it has been tolerable in large part because of one person: Robbie Manalo. Robbie has made me feel more seen and more appreciated than anyone else in the last few years. From helping me think through designs, to jumping on Pull Requests, to simply leaving me a :thumbs-up: emoji on my product release Slack messages. If it weren't for Robbie, I would not have made it this far.

I only hope that I can one day do for others what Robbie has done for me.

Reader Comments


You will always be the heart of our tribe ❤️ (and you always inspire with your customer obsession!). Thank you for sharing the video and for the reminder of how important our connections are!



My pleasure. And, I'm looking forward to being more V7 oriented in the new year! Sad (for what is ending); but, excited (for what the future).


I must say, I was so indulged in this post. I enjoyed reading it. P.s I loved the TED talk. Thanks for sharing the video.



Thanks, I used to spend a lot more time watching TED Talks. They are always so inspirational. I keep meaning to get back into it, but I never quite motivate to find the time.



Same! TED use to be much more prevalent in my life as well. Love their format, their platform, and their mission.

I see you, Ben. We all see you. And we all appreciate your monumental contributions to our somewhat niche community. #forgetmenot


Dear Ben,

I understand the point of your post is about "being human" (to one another) and it is spectacularly easy to be under pressure from a deadline... I hit your blog... either get exactly what I need - or some genuine new inspiration to solve my problem at hand. The just as silently as I arrived, leave. I think my "Stole this from Ben's blog... " is in my code-base, LOTS of times - everywhere I have worked.

I sincerely believe you're not posting for attention: though now that you have brought it up - I do feel a little shitty.

My "stole this" to "Actually saying thanks, meaningfully" ratio is spectacularly one-sided.

You are: "fantastically" generous with your time and experience to the whole CFML community.

Dear Ben, you are seen.
It is mostly silently - but please take some comfort from the assistance you have provided to us all - for so long - for so many of our own coding challenges.



❤️ You are very kind, my friend! ❤️ I absolutely love to write about all the this stuff, and I do it publicly as much for myself as for anyone else. Please never feel bad about using things that I write - that's what makes this all worthwhile! That said, thank you very much for the kind words - waking up on Christmas to see this a true gift and brings a smile to my face!


Dear daddy,

I love that you are an introvert. It means I don't have to share you with many other people, and you are always around to give tummy rubs and kisses. As long as you keep treating me as well as you treat your customers I will be happy!

Love, your sweet pup, Lucy ❤️

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I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel