Retiring from 'sad' on twitter

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R. Tyler Croy 2019-01-01 12:12:15 -08:00
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title: "Retiring from 'sad' on twitter"
- opinion
Before moving to San Francisco an older friend had given me the name, which I
carried as the title on my first business card: "Angry Young Man." I had a
tendency to practice "anger-driven development" wherein I would stay up late
hacking away, determined to make something less shitty. I don't think I have
ever truly been an angry person, so let's call it "playful cynicism." I used
this energy to develop two characters on Twitter through which I could vent my
frustrations and make jokes about day-to-day stupidity in the tech industry. The most
popular character and certainly my favorite:
[**sadserver**]( and its relative which I added
later on [**sadoperator**](, are as of today
effectively _retired_.
When I originally developed both of those characters, I was spending an
inordinate amount of time maintaining systems. Like most who work in
infrastructure and automation, I tended to be overworked and underappreciated,
or at least I believed I was.
@sadserver was the dry, sarcastic, and irreverent personification of the
servers I was trying to work on. Often times the jokes or retorts came from
real life situations where I had inadvertently screwed something up, and
@sadserver would playfully mock my frustrations. As I developed
the character further, it took on a life of its own. As my career progressed, I
spent less time working directly with infrastructure and more time working in
the no-man's land between Operations and Development, an uncanny valley of
hilarity which further fueled @sadserver's discontent and lamentations.
I fancied myself as a "Dev who could speak Ops" and created a complementary
character @sadoperator. Unlike @sadserver, @sadoperator was meant to be a real
person. Somebody who frankly, is sick of your shit. A year or two after I
created @sadoperator I started to burn out, but didn't know it at the time. The
character became more cynical, saying many of the things I was thinking during
meetings-with-no-end, responding to the news with sarcastic eye rolls, and
becoming increasingly combative towards "management" and "dev" who existed as
foils for the stories I wanted to tell. @sadoperator was a caricature of my own
internal thought processes. Perhaps not the most healthy outlet, but for quite
a while it continued to make me laugh.
As I recovered from burn out I continued to create content for both characters,
but to do so I would have to indulge in cynicism even if I was really having a
great day. I would look at something happening on twitter, I would let my eyes
lose focus and put myself into a negative frame of mind; often times I would
even get a chill. Soon enough I would arrive at a witty retort or comment to
share with the tens of thousands of people following one of the two accounts. I
felt almost like I was vacationing in a place of despair, all for the sake
giggles on the internet.
I'm no longer angry like I once was. And I have actively worked on my own
mental health, working to recognize the caustic effects of sarcasm and comedic
cynicism. While I can still laugh at the tweets written over the last many
years, I do not delight in writing them anymore.
It's time to retire.
It has been difficult to decide what I should do with these accounts. Years ago I
considered selling merchandise featuring some of the tweets. My first idea was
to take [this tweet](
> _it's not "corruption", it's a database index REMIX._
I thought that an 80's stylized MySQL dolphin standing at a couple of
turntables would have been perfect, but I could never find the right designer.
I eventually gave up on the idea of monetizing any of this silliness and
instead decided to ride it out, enjoying it while it lasted.
Much of the other content I still am very proud of and is worth _something_ at
least to me, such as my [Twas the night before
poem which I wrote in one sitting five years ago, lounging in rented cabin
during a truly wonderful family Christmas vacation.
Or [the short story I
wrote]( after mistyping some `curl` incantation to a
misbehaving server:
> _A connection is established on port 80.
> After a moment, four-bytes are received.
> h
> e
> l
> p
> I terminate the connection.
> Bad request._
The praise for that story from one of my own favorite accounts, [Micro SF/F
stories]( was
Another dystopian [short
story](, inspired by
the Google fall from grace and their "do no evil" motto which still plucks at
my heart strings
> _They set out to make the world a better place.
> Building more technology, more automation.
> Optimizing it all, for sake of the machines.
> Finished, the people had all gone.
> Surrounded by their machines, they felt alone.
> The world had become a better place.
> Only not for them._
There are [years](
[tweets]( [which]( [still]( [make]( [me]( [laugh](, and some still make me [sad](
Twitter is an interesting medium in which to tell stories, and I thoroughly
enjoyed the challenges of telling stories or making jokes within its
In the end, both of these characters served primarily to entertain myself and
some of my colleagues, a number of whom didn't know who was the man behind the
mask. It was always hard to hide a smile when somebody would share one of my
tweets in an internal work chat. "omg too real!"
Indeed :)
I don't plan on deleting the accounts or selling them off to anybody, instead I
am releasing all the content I have ever created on Twitter for these two
characters under the [Creative Commons Attribution-ShareALike
4.0]( license.
* [**@sadserver**](/files/sadserver.json)
* [**@sadoperator**](/files/sadoperator.json)
Please share, remix, or use these however you would like. If you use these
tweets to sell something or make money in some way, please consider donating
profits to the [Electronic Frontier Foundation](
I'll leave you with [this
tweet](, potentially my
all-time favorite dark-but-true tweet.
Please don't take things too seriously and do try to find reasons to be happy.

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