I Don’t Care if Strangers Can Take Me Seriously

A few days ago, I wrote a personal blurb about my experience with Return-to-Office, Forced Relocation, and top-down Corporate Bullshit. This was a departure from my usual fare in two ways:

  1. I talked about myself rather than focusing on other people or ideas I find neat.
  2. I didn’t bother to edit it for clarity before pressing Publish.

I had figured that quick write-up would fill the void while I work on the more ambitious technical blog posts I have planned for the rest of 2023 (although realistically some will spill over into 2024).

And then it made the front page of Hacker News. It ended up on the top of several subreddits soon after.

Credit: AJ

Since then, I’ve probably read about 2,000 comments across both websites. If you follow me on the fediverse, you’ve probably seen some of my commentary about the particularly bad takes I’ve encountered.

And while I’m not going to address each and every thing that came up in that mess, I did notice a few themes and trends that I find worthy of further examination. Hence, this post.

My Blog is a Furry Blog First

This blog, Dhole Moments, is a blog where I write about things for the furry fandom, as my fursona.

Yes, I do have other interests and hobbies besides just being a furry. I have a modicum of expertise in some areas within cryptography and information security.

Too many people saw fit to complain about the furry art. Some of the reasons cited were:

  • “It won’t be taken seriously by anyone with any authority to change RTO policy at any serious org [because of the furry art].”
  • Falsely insisting that furry is inherently sexual.
  • Claiming that furry art is “distracting”.

So let’s be clear about something:

I wrote a personal blog post on a furry blog for my predominantly furry audience in my usual furry style.

Someone else saw fit to submit it to news aggregator websites. Thousands of other people upvoted it, which placed it across your feed.

Then a bunch of uninvited guests get upset at the furry art and decided it was appropriate to tell me how I should write my own blog posts in order for them to be able to share them with their boss? Get fucked.

Art: Sophie

Like, how is that even supposed to make a lick of sense?

If I was at all concerned with being taken “seriously” by a tech company’s management, maybe I wouldn’t have written it here. I probably would’ve dropped it as an open letter under my human name and solicited signatures from my former coworkers or something.

Half the fucking point of doing what I do is to not take anything too seriously. Especially myself.

You’re not reading a programming blog that has furry art. You’re reading a furry blog that has programming on it.

Every time a rando complains, I’m simply going to make it gayer.

Made by MarleyTanuki

What Do You Even Do Here?

Most of the comments I read about my previous blog post can be sorted into two categories:

  1. They never read past the title, and are therefore helpless
  2. They fundamentally don’t understand what my job was

Normally, I’d be like, “OK cool, you don’t need to know what I even do for work”. Most of the time, everyone’s happier not knowing because they have their own problems to deal with.

The comments that spawned from this ignorance seemed to think I was just an easily replaceable cog soon to be obviated by “new grads”, or at risk of being obsoleted by the dreaded specter of “outsourcing”.

I can’t speak to a lot of the jobs the folks in the programming subreddit hold, but if anyone can do my job as well as I can, then they frankly deserve it–in part, because I was effectively on 3 different teams; each needing access to my cryptography and security expertise for different reasons.

Believe me when I say this: I hate bragging. I hate it because I can’t do it without writing about myself, which I also find grueling to do. I’ve missed out on speaking opportunities before because I blanked out on what to put down for the speaker bio. “I’m just me,” is the most I can eek out of my brain in most circumstances.

You cannot replace me with semgrep, or a small pizza party of haphazardly selected CompSci undergrads. I’ve looked at projects on the heels of major crypto/security consultancies and immediately found severe bugs they missed (although I usually just assume that’s due to timeboxing rather than skill). I have definite blind spots, even with cryptography, but the subjects I know, I’m damn good at.

When I was pushed out of my previous role by the RTO mandate, it caused visible pain for the teams I worked with, which rippled across the entire department. So many of my most senior colleagues told me they were thinking of leaving because of how I was treated.

And if it wasn’t clear from my previous post, I’m not happy with this outcome. These were people I respected and enjoyed working with. Everyone up to the vice president I reported through was excellent and tried everything to protect their remote employees.

Other Remarks

I had other things to talk about, but I already added an addendum to the original blog post to address the other misconceptions and weird reactions people had.

Header art by AJ.

By Soatok

Security engineer with a fursona. Ask me about dholes or Diffie-Hellman!

11 replies on “I Don’t Care if Strangers Can Take Me Seriously”

Just came in to say I saw the discussion going on in my company’s subreddit – sorry you had to deal with those people, though you handled it brilliantly. Your post was right on target, I’ll be reading your blog going forward.

Thanks. I’m not sure exactly what I walked into there, but Reddit has been a mixed bag since they shut down third-party apps, so I try not to internalize it too much or generalize it to all their employees.

Hey sorry you had to put up with the HN people and their many opinions. I really liked both this post and the RTO post. Thank you for being your furry self, it is very appreciated.

The previous post was brilliant and this one is somehow even better.

> Every time a rando complains, I’m simply going to make it gayer.

This is genius. I’m going to adopt it as my new online mantra.

I came from hacker news as well, hi, and I had the exact opposite reaction to being distracted by the art and Dhole article (which I read!). It made you a 3-dimensional person, and such an interesting dimension!!

Not surprised that some narrow minded people (even well intentioned ones) felt like you deserved to hear their ire. Sad, though, because this is the internet I signed up for (cue dialup modem sounds and “You’ve got mail”). 👏

I’ve been following news about companies forcing returns to the office. I completely agree with you, but you didn’t bring up any points I haven’t heard before. The people who really need to listen to your points didn’t listen all the previous times. They won’t listen this time, nor next time. No matter how “serious” the tone is.

Bark My Way

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