Elitism in the I.T field

Have you ever ran across this guy? If not, maybe it’s you.

Elitism is in every field. I.T/Networking/Programming fields highlight the elitism more than other areas for several reasons. We will dive into some of these reasons and maybe shed some light on the behavior to get folks thinking. This article is full of lots of over-simplistic generalizations to illustrate a point. There are always exceptions to the things I mention here. On the flip side of that, some of the things mentioned are the exception.

One of the things i tend to see crop up on a regular basis is the elitism attitude.

“my way of doing things is better than yours”

“Haha. you are stupid for doing it that way”

“that is so 10 years ago”

So what makes an elitism attitude? Not seeing the entire picture for one. Things are always done for a reason. At the very basic level it is ignorance. They don’t know any better. Other times, it was a 3AM fix that was supposed to be temporary. We all know how temporary can turn into permanent.

Why do some folks feel the need to bring others down? there are entire sections in the bookstore (remember those?) related to psychology of the human mind. Let’s explore some of the ones I have seen over my 20+ years in the I.T. field.

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Personality traits and proficiency
I.T. folks are not the only ones who suffer from personality quirks. The I.T. field has historically had a wide gap between those who know technology and those who don’t. This has allowed personalities who lack the self-confidence to really find their niche and excel at things. Once they experience this new sense of importance, it can go to their head. This can result in an “I am better at this” attitude.

Absolute Power corrupts absolutely
I have heard this story over and over. A company has a “computer person” who has built their network but refused to share the inner workings, never did documentation, and all-around kept as much information as they could to themselves.

In over their heads
Human nature tends to tell us if we ask for help that is a sign of weakness. As I.T. departments become more and more sophisticated their knowledge-base has to expand to learn new software and new technologies.

Age makes a difference
As we get older we tend to get set in our ways. For the most part, our thirst for knowledge tends to wain. We start experiencing the “Get off my lawn” feeling more and more.

Some of this is due to us getting set in our ways. Sometimes the best way to do something can be the way it’s always been done. This can be a double-edged sword.

Criticize without action
The biggest pet peeve of mine in the I.T. industry are those who criticize what others do, without offering their own solution. I often put out blog posts and other content to get conversations started or fill a specific need.

Always the flip-side
You have two sides to every coin, both sides of a record (I’m really dating myself now), and two different perspectives. So why go through all of this? People are going to be people, right? Well, the wrong people can be toxic. One thing to keep in mind in any business is you are there to support the customer. No business is without a customer; otherwise, it is a hobby.

When it comes to I.T., ignorance can only get you so far. At one point, you have to “up your game.” The problem becomes when the less informed look to their peers and those peers are sitting on an Ivory Pedestal telling everyone how, if they aren’t doing XYZ, they are dumb. It’s not the industry peers’ job to help those who are only hurting themselves. Nor is it their job to criticize them. if they want to be constructive, they can start mentoring some of their peers who need help and ask for help. Not everyone needs or wants help, no matter how wrong you think they are.It takes a certain balance to carry yourself as a true expert without coming off as rude or self-obsessed. Remember that I.T. is nothing without the customer.

If you are in any field think about your next encounter with your co-workers.  I am not talking about water-cooler talk.  Think about your interaction if you are in a support role.  Are you condescending? Think about your interactions with others in the field.  How do you treat them?  We all have bad days, but those should be the exception to the rule.

I have a backbone provider that every time I call their support I am blown off as it is a problem with my configuration.  I know it’s not, but I am not arrogant enough to think I am right without first double-checking my work.  I won’t call until I know it’s my issue. These types of interactions cut down on the flow of information.  They don’t foster a good working relationship with someone I am paying money to.

Don’t be Nick Burns, the Computer guy.

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