In January 2019 internet trolls took to Twitter to taunt recently fired journalists with some advice: “Learn to Code!” It was a shot at American “elites” who were deemed dismissive of blue-collar workers whose jobs are disappearing. The trolls caustically suggested a more promising future could be found in other fields with more growth potential in the digital era.
“Learn to code” is now a stinging jab, a sick burn that has certainly generated its fair share of LOLs. It is also indicative of a more broadly negative impact the internet has on U.S. politics, one that allows the aggrieved, snarky, and shorthand nature of digital debate to undermine substantive dialogue in favor of efforts to rub salt as deeply as possible into the wounds of perceived opposition.
But what would happen if the trolling stopped and a good-faith effort to adapt to a changing labor market were made? What would happen if, well, blue-collar workers learned to code?