Everything I Needed to Know About IT I Learned From WandaVision
*SPOLER ALERT* If it wasn’t clear from the title, there will be spoilers for WandaVision throughout this article. If you’ve yet to watch it, go ahead and come back to this later. I’ll wait. 😊
Inspired by a recent conversation with Leon about WandaVision and how its lessons reverberate through IT, I want to take a few moments to share my thoughts (and my enthusiasm) on the subject. WandaVision was a sometimes fun and sometimes emotionally jarring journey through time via sitcom styles. It explored grief and self-discovery in new and interesting ways. Wanda Maximoff’s powers bring a physical presence to the exploration of her mental state, which—while powerful—has its limits.
“What does any of this have to do with IT?” you may be asking. Well, let’s answer this question.
The show went through multiple eras of television sitcoms, and for each era, they filmed and implemented effects in the same way they were done originally. It benefited the storyline, as it benefits us in IT, to not forget where they came from.
Vulnerability at the Edges
As Vision explored the Hex and learned more about who he was and what was going on, he saw the effects of Wanda’s lack of attention—her power waned and brought things to a full stop. There was a lack of activity and a lack of updating, and this left them vulnerable from inside and outside the Hex. Agatha Harkness exploited this weakness from the inside, and Monica Rambeau learned to exploit the weakness from the outside.
This is a great analogy for tech at the edges of our awareness—servers hardly used anymore, running old hardware or software, things missed during inventory, etc. This lack of attention, awareness, and updating leaves vulnerabilities.
Learning Through Adversity
The entire show is an exploration of Wanda’s powers and her emotions, but we can do better than this. In the show, Wanda gets trapped in Agatha’s basement for a time, and Agatha shows off the symbols she’s using to dampen Wanda’s power and keep her trapped in the basement. Agatha is surprised Wanda isn’t familiar with any of them, considering her power. Later, Wanda uses those same symbols in her fight against Agatha, showing she learned from her time trapped despite the emotional turmoil she was going through.
This promotes learning on two fronts. No matter how much you learn/can do, you always have more to learn. Knowledge gained through errors, incident investigation, or any other terrible thing is valuable for future work. Despite the stress of going through it, the desire to assign blame, and the time you invest in resolving those issues, you learn valuable lessons through it all. Don’t let your experience lull you into believing you have nothing left to learn.
Ship of Theseus
Honestly, this could be a never-ending discussion on its own. BUT I will keep it brief. After all, I’m not Leon (written with affection). Vision uses this philosophical discussion in his battle of the mind. A large part of the show is dedicated to the question, “Who am I?” What makes us individual and unique?
In IT, this philosophical discussion takes place all the time. If I upgrade everything on a server, is it still the same server? If someone changes a line in my code, is it still my code? If I copy a script from THWACK® or elsewhere on the internet and change a couple of lines, is it now my code? In monitoring, this happens all the time—an IP gets repurposed, software gets updated, etc. Everything is once again new, and the monitoring is, too.
Acknowledge the Past to Move Forward
A lot of the show is Wanda hiding from the truth of past events and finding ways to fool herself and those in her hex of influence. Her journey to acceptance and acknowledgement continues throughout, and she doesn’t reach her potential—she can’t become the Scarlet Witch—until she reaches this acceptance and learns from the past.
In IT, a mistake or mishap can feel monumental and even career-ending. Most of the time, it isn’t. We often feel cornered after a mistake and look to blame something or someone else to throw off the heat, but we can only move forward in our careers when we acknowledge, accept, and learn from our mistakes. I’ve made my share of mistakes in IT, and every one of them has pushed me to learn more, forced me to think and plan differently, and given me experience I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I’m sure if you’ve been in IT for more than five minutes, you can relate.
Insist on Your Credentials
I love the character of Dr. Darcy Lewis—and don’t forget the “Dr.” Several times throughout the show, she’s forced to politely insist on being treated with the respect she’s earned through her study and previous work. She’s confident and comfortable in her own skin, is fashionable and unapologetic, and never loses her sense of fun. She’s a reminder to not lose your sense of self and your unique identity and to always insist on the respect and credentials you’ve earned. I feel a kinship with this character and feel represented by her.
In IT, we earn our credentials—sometimes through college, sometimes through certifications, sometimes just over time and with experience. All are valid, so insist on yours. Also, it’s easy to lose some of your identity over time. From free swag from vendors and conferences to dress codes at work and the day-to-day grind, we can lose our sense of self, and it all starts to look much the same. We all start to look much the same. So don’t lose yourself.
“Thank You for Choosing…”
Toward the end of the show, Vision says this lovely line: “Thank you for choosing to be our sons.” Never forget people choose to be with you through work and life. There’s a responsibility there as well. The responsibility to choose them back, to support each other, to learn from one another, and to continue deserving that choice. This is what I want to call the “don’t be a jerk” clause—don’t forget people are choosing you every day.
“We Have Said Goodbye Before…”
The full quote is “We have said goodbye before, so it stands to reason we’ll say hello again.” I’m no linguist, but to me this sounds like the concept of “Aloha” in Hawaiian and “Shalom” in Hebrew, at least as they’ve been described to me. I can’t speak with authority on either, but from what I understand, the idea is you never truly say goodbye. These words, and this saying, have a deeper meaning than simply hello or goodbye. They represent unity, compassion, harmony, and more. They’re philosophical concepts we can have entire discussions about.
In IT, I like how this relates not only to technology but to the people we come to know along the way. Despite changing responsibilities, positions, companies, etc., we manage to maintain relationships. Even those we no longer work with or talk to have lasting impacts on the things we do and say, even when we don’t realize it. On the other side of things, technology is constantly evolving—and we IT pros evolve along with it. All the technology that came before shapes new technology and the way we think about it.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me. As you can tell, I loved the show, and I love thinking about how the things we enjoy can change how we think about work and life.