BFAt SXSW, the annual tech startup conference in Austin, 13 homeless men are hanging around the conference center wearing white shirts that say “I’m _____, a 4G hotspot.” Each is carrying a wireless internet device, and for a PayPal donation, will provide conference-goers with internet access for as long as they want. The men are part of a campaign called “Homeless Hotspots,” devised by a marketing firm called BBH. It effectively debuted today, and started backfiring immediately. The first person to flag the stunt as a little off was the New York Times’s David Gallagher, who called the plan it “a little dystopian.” Since then, the Internet’s been aghast: The story has been both amplified and deprived of context, inspiring thousands of knee-jerk responses. It’s really not going over very well at all.

How anyone could view hobo hotspots as a negative is beyond me. This is literally the first time homeless people could be genuinely helpful to us. Normally the most helpful thing he does is tell me a bad joke I’ve heard already (“DO-nation!”) or hold a door for me that I easily could have done myself, but bums as wifi access points?  Now we’re actually getting somewhere.

Without this program, this dude’s shirt would have to say “I’m Clarence and I smell like pee” or “I’m Clarence and I’m gonna make you and your friends uncomfortable until you give me some money” to be accurate.  But now Clarence is a hot spot.  He’s a SOMEBODY.  He’s helping me check my email and stalk that girl from high school with the big titties who just put up a new profile picture.  He’s useful now.

Oh sure it’s a little dehumanizing I guess.  But you know what else is dehumanizing?  Being COMPLETELY IGNORED BY ALL HUMANS.  That’s what he was before, but now he’s important.  He’s got a job.  He’s a hotspot.  Now go collect a handful of your “houseless” hobo buddies and stand close together so I can download this cat video, Clarence.

PS – How come there aren’t that many homeless women?  Is it because somebody, somewhere is willing to bang them?
PPS – Last week I was in LA and San Fran — SO MANY HOMELESS. If hobos became zombies everyone in California is dead.