I recently (I say recently…about 6 weeks ago…getting new blog posts out takes a while these days!) came across a tweet from someone I used to follow (who I’m now blocked by) that they thought was utterly hilarious:
I, however, did not.
I really really hate this kind of joke. And I’m probably more sensitive to it than most. I’ve written about this before…in fact, I wrote about this exact thing SEVEN YEARS AGO. (EDIT – And, as I just discovered, also SIX years ago!)
And still…very little has changed. As a Windows systems administrator, I’m used to the jokes. I’m used to hearing about “Windoze” and “M$” and “Microshaft” (seriously, if you don’t believe me, do a search for these terms in Twitter and see the thousands of tweets that show up). I’m sadly used to being told I’m “just” a point-and-click admin and that I don’t use a “real” operating system or support “real” servers or services because they “run on a virus”.
All of these, and more, have been said to me many times over the 15 years I’ve been in this industry. Even a member of my own family has said things like this, coming from a *nix background. They used to joke that they were a little ashamed of having a Windows admin in the family. And I’d laugh along with them.
I don’t really laugh now.
And this is because the lovely Auryn Shaw taught me about contempt culture. And it was from here I noticed that contempt culture isn’t limited to programming or scripting languages (though I have had someone belittle me for using PowerShell because it’s not a “real” scripting language like Bash), but that it’s also extremely prevalent in operations and system administration around operating systems and tools.
I am a Windows system administrator. In fact, I’m a Windows Identity System Administrator. I will sing the praises of Active Directory and Azure Active Directory until the end of time – because I love these systems, see their benefits and know how they can help businesses and organisations. Now, don’t get me wrong – they have some drawbacks (RBAC’s are important but by GODS they’re a pain in the arse to set up properly, group policy definitely needs some love, Windows logging is a minefield…) but that doesn’t mean I cast nasturtiums against other options. Yes yes…aspersions not nasturtiums, wrong word, but aspersions just sound mean and the idea of throwing flowers at someone or something is far more hilarious.
In our industry there are so many options. There are so many different tools, services, vendors, CHOICES that we, as tech pros, can make. There is no such thing as “the one choice to rule them all” for everyone. That’s just not possible. What works for you may not work for everyone. In fact, what works for you may not work for *ANYONE* else. But it works for you. And that’s awesome! So use it. Let people know what you’re doing – you never know, it could help that one other person who has a similar setup to yours!
And then there’s the issue of people coming into the industry – and seeing these small, but not insignificant, slights and jokes and microagressions against tools and services. Seeing it from titans and prominent people (and Twitter accounts) in the industry they want to be a part of.
And from there, they internalise it. They may decide they don’t want to do the thing that everyone else belittles, even if it’s what they love and what they originally wanted to do. They don’t want to be the butt of everyone’s jokes.
Or it gets worse, there’s the person who comes in, sees everyone making fun of a specific choice and joins in because it’s been normalised. They want to be part of the “cool” club. They don’t want to be the one being bullied, they want to be the bully. Fuck, it’s just like highschool in that regard.
This is real life. People’s passions. People’s livelihoods. PEOPLE’S LIVES.
Contempt culture is vile. It’s an “us vs. them”. And we’ve all seen how that’s worked out in the world. Sometimes it can be funny, if the other side is joining in and knows it’s in jest. But often times it’s mean. It’s hurtful. It’s harmful. It’s discriminatory. It’s belittling. It’s *WRONG*.
Just because someone does something differently & uses tools differently – it doesn’t make them wrong. No one is wrong.
Use the tool for the job. Use the right system, for the solution you’re trying to build, for the skills you have, for the organisation you’re building it for. Do the best you can, with what you have. There’s nothing more we can ask of you.
Don’t belittle others who do things differently to you.
In other words: Don’t be a dick. Be yourself. Do the thing.
UPDATE (2019-04-06) – I’d like to put an update into this post that I do have a sense of humour, despite popular opinion. I understand when things are funny. I realise I’m seen as a “snowflake” about this. But when this is your livelihood and you feel that the mantra of others in your industry is that you are “less than”, it just stops being funny because you don’t want to feel like shit. So at some point, you stop laughing. I’ve removed any direct links to the original tweet because it was said in jest and it was a joke (though there were plenty of replies that weren’t) – and the person who tweeted that does use and support Windows environments. They shouldn’t be attacked for a single tweet – their tweet was simply the catalyst for this post. My apologies to them – they know who they are.