I am going to suggest that one of McPherson’s arguments is that both race and UNIX are part of systems. Systems that need each other to survive but when you ask someone if they care for one, they normally do not care for the other. The person then becomes blind to the other half of the image so to speak.
This reminds me of the programming versus personal life battle in the novel. You need interpersonal relationships to survive as a human being, and you need a job to help you survive as well. So, they are connected and your well being is somewhat dependent on them. When you focus on one however, the other suffers as we see in the novel with Ethan and his failure at a personal life because he is obsessed with “the jester.” So, he does not care for his personal life as much as he does for programming, and begins to have tunnel vision and obsessed with finding and correcting the bug.
“The jester” starts to really take over both Berta and Ethan’s life, and makes the other aspects of their life fade away. For example on page 152 of The Bug, “Ethan’s awareness of his body…was lost.” He had lost all sense of time and was left with only his programming. His life took a backseat just like in McPherson’s paper she suggest race did to technology for many people.
This image kind of sums up what should happen in one’s life. There should be a balance between your relationships, your self-care, and your work, but often times that is not the case and we end up with Ethan forgetting about the outside world or people forgetting that racial problems exist because technology says so. More often than not we end up with a triangle like the college life triangle below where we have to choose two to survive or sometimes just one.
We need it all to succeed and be healthy just like the characters in the book need a balance to be healthy but we see them start to become unbalanced as their life becomes unbalanced.