tl;dr: As a sysadmin, whenever someone tweets something snarky about sysadmins,
I feel a little put down. As a result, I try to think twice about snarky stuff
I might tweet about devs or other teams. And so, I think sysadmins posting snarky captioned
images about devs and then adding the devops hashtag is mean and
I’ve seen this captioned image circulating all day with the devops hashtag on Twitter. For the
record, I don’t think this picture is funny. In the right context, it might
be funny. If it were, say, a slide in a deck pointing to how things are or
used to be without devops, I’d laugh. My issue is seeing tweeted with the devops hashtag
and having it billed as funny.
Now I love me some snark. But I think it’s too easy to be
snarky and mean on Twitter, because there isn’t a lot of consequence and we
tend to live within a circle of our peers who often think alike. The snark
factor often goes up around conference time when many of us are congregating
in once place and competing to sound smart and funny in 140 characters or
less. I’ve commented before that I think people are too often mean on Twitter
in the name of being witty or complaining about speakers without ever
thinking about what that speaker might feel if he sees that tweet later.
So why does this caption bother me? I have a long history of unfiltered snark
and smart ass remarks. Consulting since 2006 taught me a lot about active
filtering and my introduction to DevOps caused me to implement additional filtering for the
sake of my emotional attachment to an ideal.
As someone who’s signed on as a big fan of DevOps culture, I spend a lot of
patrolling my cynicism and preventing disparaging remarks from escaping the
filter. I think when you espouse certain ideals, you’re responsible all the
time for representing them.
I sometimes see cynical, catty remarks about sysadmins or ops from people who
can only have come from a long life of development and, even though I haven’t
technically done ops in 7 years, I’ve been sysadminly all my long life and
I am affronted every time by those remarks. Recently I heard a professional dev
say to someone in a beginners programming workshop, “If you want
to understand/master the install of the programming tools, you’re probably
better off as a sysadmin not a programmer.” The guy who said is a super nice
guy, but that remark still got a side-eye from me.
If DevOps is a movement that promotes collaboration, communication, respect
and friendship between functional teams, I don’t think a sincere proponent
would post this kind of caption. While it makes some folks feel validated,
it’s just fueling the fire that walls people off from each other. I don’t
think we can all get along when folks are throwing up cynical remarks
perpetuating stereotypes of bad development practices.
While there are many successful DevOps teams out there, there are far more
silos in transition or bitter adversaries who haven’t yet heard of DevOps.
I can’t believe that only some developers or sysadmins are capable of transcending the usual barriers;
I have to believe that any and all are able to transcend them or what’s the
point? But it’s the more entrenched and cynical cases that will be the most
difficult to move ideologically and emotionally and I feel that humor like
this can only alienate.
I don’t want to pick on anyone specifically because I see this kind of humor
from all disciplines all the time and it makes me increasingly uncomfortable each
time. If we’re actually going to all be in this together, we need to jump in
with both feet. So I thought I would speak up for a moment and say something.
If a thing can only be funny by being rude about someone else, maybe it’s not
actually funny at all.