Homeless dot-commer maybe not so homeless after all
June 19, 2001 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Homeless dot-commer maybe not so homeless after all You'll recall the brief discussion the other day about the story about "six-figure dot-commers" now living on the streets. As so often happens, though, somebody recognized this guy and tells a bit of a different story about him. (Yes, it's a Salon link. Enjoy it while you still can.)
posted by briank (9 comments total)
He even has his own wanted page.
posted by jeffbarr at 10:12 AM on June 19, 2001

That was mentioned in the Salon article -- it was posted by some of his friends who couldn't locate him after he bailed out of an apartment in LA.
posted by briank at 10:14 AM on June 19, 2001

Bailed -- taking an unpaid $1,000 debt to a friend and that same friend's "borrowed" laptop with him. I wonder how safe that laptop is at a homeless shelter. . .
posted by Dreama at 10:42 AM on June 19, 2001

Shame! Shame on all the irresponsible people of the world! Now put on your scarlet "L" (for Liiiiiaaaaar).
posted by mecran01 at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2001

Hmmm, so the news media creates a story with shoddy fact finding, gets a bunch of readership and then prints another story when the real truth comes out.

Who wins here? The media. Ugh.
posted by fooljay at 5:14 PM on June 19, 2001

Damn you, news media!
posted by rodii at 8:19 PM on June 19, 2001

What, is this the first time anyone's read a color piece? This wasn't a six-part Chicago Tribune investigative essay adorned with infographics and gunning for a Pulitzer. This was a reporter going out to a homeless shelter ... where there were "at least 30 unemployed tech workers" (source: shelter director).

I don't see anyone disputing those facts. It's a homeless shelter. Some of the people there used to hold technical jobs.

Also, there doesn't seem to be much of a groundswell denying that tech jobs are scarcer than they were last year.

Sacrosante may have been an atypical example, in terms of his background, but I'm pretty certain that he's not exactly atypical in terms of the psychological types who end up in homeless shelters, regardless of prior income. What if it turned out that he's an alcoholic struggling with an addiction? Or simply depressed and unable, this time, to deal with the fact that he can't get a job by working the phone one afternoon?

What kind of people are supposed to be in homeless shelters, anyway? Angels beset by circumstance may be the ideal, but it's hardly realistic. The people who end up on the tail end of life are, demonstrably, the less persistent, the less organized, the less reliable, the less sober. Congratulations, you found out one of them. Does this change the facts for the 29 other people at that shelter? Are they suddenly undeserving people who could get a job by snapping their fingers, but for some reason have forgone this for the luxury of a lumpy bed next to a wheezing drug addict?

What is wrong with you people?! (Included: Salon Table Talk and Slashdot posters. It's a broad brush, I know.)
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on June 19, 2001

Broad but with sticky gooey paint. You're right. Assuming that the other 29 are not also cons. I'm just a little oversensitive about the explotation practices of the news media. That's my own little postal war that probably had little to do with this...

You do have to admit that journalists seem to be getting lazier these days though....OR that perhaps media is taking over people's lives making it almost impossible to resist not "looking good for the camera"
posted by fooljay at 1:10 AM on June 20, 2001

I think you're missing the point, dhartung. This story about the homeless tech workers went from being a "color piece", as you describe it, to being a prominently featured story on a number of news sites (not to mention fodder for a lot of discussion here and at Plastic and other places, and posted on a bunch of blogs).

So suddenly the new meme is born: dot-commers are now homeless, regardless of how totally accurate that portrayal might be. The news biz sure isn't about follow-up these days, so this is just the sort of story that becomes accepted as "the truth" -- after all, if everyone's reporting it, it must be true, right? This follow-up isn't getting the same level of air-play that the first story did (as very often happens when follow-ups contradict the very salable original story)

So maybe the other 29 people ARE unemployed tech workers who ran out of luck and ended up in shelters, but maybe not, too. Who knows what to believe now. However, the "dot-commers are now homeless" meme will get gospelized all over the place.

Doesn't matter that the writer intended the piece to be "color" (if that was ever the intent), now it's something bigger, and as such ought to be examined more closely for its accuracy. Maybe it should be a six-part investigative piece for the Chicago Tribune.
posted by briank at 7:47 AM on June 20, 2001

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