In the day of the great Slack outage, which left large parts of the internet unable to communicate with each other, we also discovered that a large part of our feelings had been hidden in the everyday discourse. It was actually easier to talk to each other about the various challenging aspects of our work than to be alone with it. (This happens every time a major component of our communication tools goes down. Twitter, Slack, pick a thing.)
It's like that discovery around language and monkeys: when a monkey is lost, they will lament the state of being lost instead of trying to find the rest of the tribe. When you can't communicate with other people who help you articulate your feelings of discomfort, it gets harder to deal with them. I see this as big factor to burn out—when you cannot articulate your values and where they are not aligned with the work that's being produced, you lose the ability to rationalize the difference between those things. You can't process the difference between what you see happening every day, your own sense of "the right way to do things" and where the overall group is going if you don't have a space to talk about it that everyone understands.
We talk about communication being so important, but to what purpose? More email is not better. I wish email was my real passion, but it's not. What I care about is having real, honest conversations with the people around me: discovering what they need, what's not working, what's being done.
It's more important is being able to have a space where you can communicate your ennui, "a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement." For technology, it's applied differently. I don't think it arises from a lack of occupation or excitement, it rises from a lack of agency to make any changes to a system you perceive as broken. While it may be unpopular, noticing your own ennui, your things that make you uncomfortable about where you are going and articulating it thoughtfully makes you a better person to work with. (Caveat: not all the time.) Articulate the things that cause you angst, work with your team to be able to figure out where their angst is as well, and you get a better sense of the landscape overall.
We can talk about the DevOps movement being about empathy—but said another way, it's about creating community where it hasn't been before. In a community, you share in each other's ennui and you work to fix it. This is how we get to a place that improves the overall tech landscape for all of us.
Happy Monday! Go and think on this.