An unpleasant thing about system administration

January 1, 2008

One of the unpleasant things about system administration is how it can turn me into a petty authoritarian, full of irritation with users that have the temerity to 'break the rules' and not follow directions, even if (or especially if) the rules are themselves impositions from outside that I myself dislike and object to. Instead of cheering on the users, I become angry with them, apparently merely because they have the temerity to not do what I told them to. In some dark place in my mind, people not doing what I told them to is more important than anything else, more important than my own dislike of the imposed rules, enough so to turn me into a willing collaborator with rules that I normally dislike.

(As if I could actually tell them what to do, too, so in a sense I'm getting angry at them for ignoring me.)

Looking in the mirror and seeing a petty tyrant staring back is not something that I like very much. It leaves me a with a hollow feeling, even if I catch it while the impulse is still percolating in the back of my mind or when it is just the first flare of irritation. (And I don't always; an uncomfortable number of times the realization has only struck me some time later.)

I won't say that thinking about this has led to me having more sympathy for the petty authoritarians one runs into in life, but perhaps it's given me some better understanding of them, even if it's not a comfortable one. (I don't find the idea that a petty tyrant may lurk not too far beneath the surface of many people to be exactly comforting.)

Written on 01 January 2008.
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Last modified: Tue Jan 1 23:24:01 2008
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