Locally, you might want to find out how many of those attending meetings of say, Animal Defense League, ASPCA, local no-kill shelters, even PETA and ALF, have the same pressing concerns that you do. You’ll know how to recognize the type you want. You’re not alone with your problem; that’s the most important thing to bear in mind. There’s something of which I often remind myself, and it may be only horseshit but I prefer to believe it so I stick to it: you are never given a burden in this life that you’re not up to the job of carrying. That’s not to say you always have to carry it by yourself; to the contrary, if you must have help, you’ll find it, maybe in the very last place you might have been looking. Just keep your eyes open and be ready to take advantage of an opportunity when the universe sends you one. None of us is as powerless in emergency situations as we tend to think we are.
Most programmers aren’t working on building a widely recognized application like Microsoft Word. Software is everywhere. It’s gone from a craft of fragile, built-from-scratch custom projects to an industry of standardized parts, where coders absorb and improve upon the labors of their forebears (even if those forebears are one cubicle over). Software is there when you switch channels and your cable box shows you what else is on. You get money from an ATM—software. An elevator takes you up five stories—the same. Facebook releases software every day to something like a billion people, and that software runs inside Web browsers and mobile applications. Facebook looks like it’s just pictures of your mom’s crocuses or your son’s school play—but no, it’s software.