Bratty Redhead

the sarcasm is free!

Why Isn't This Funny?

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 inappropriate.

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.