homelessness | Hipster Runoff


The Art of the Sympathy Meme: Going from Homeless 2 Viral


I was driving around in suburbia the other day, and I happened to see a homeless man holding up an interesting sign. Like many other homeless people, I assumed he was crazy, smelly, a drug addict, an alcoholic, infested with sexually transmitted diseases, and pulling the gimmick where he claims that he 'served his country' [via wearing a camouflage jacket]. His sign claimed that he had a 'golden radio voice', so I offered him a Taco Bell taco in exchange for a few lines. He delivered. I took out my camera and asked him to re-create the process and I would give him the change sitting in my cup holder. He willingly obliged.

I pulled over and interviewed him. I was feeling 'creative', and knew that his voice was bloggable enough to 'go viral' if I 'humanized him' enough. Worst case scenario--I gave a homeless guy 94 cents and a taco. Best case scenario--he would go viral, and I would change his life forever.

The truth is most people who are 'successful' in a middle class way feel a little bit guilty that they have more than others. Usually, they can find some sort of release by 'going to church' or maybe 'dropping off some old clothes / canned goods at a local donation station', but in the modern world, you don't have to 'share' anything more than a hyperlink/video embed.

What if I told u that I had a solution 2 end homelessness?
Let's help homeless people go viral.

Just a few days ago, Ted Williams was a 'drain' on our fragile society. Today, he is 'bringing joy' 2 the lives' of Middle American lamestreamers, after giving every1 'hope' that no matter how 'down on ur luck' u r, u can still become a viral meme. U don't have to have a Macbook, webcam, knowledge of topical content, or even a sober lifestyle. All u need is a dream.


I have a mainstream job and I will never get to meet Al Roker or Ann Curry or Matt Lauer or the Ghost of Katie Couric.


The reviews on Ted Williams have been 'mixed.'
White woman: "He's so eloquent for a homeless man."
White Christian: "He doesn't seem like most homeless ppl who I serve slop 2 @the_shelter."
White kid: "Are all homeless ppl hiding hidden talents?"
White racist: "Affirmative action has gone 2 far."
Other homeless man: "What's youtube?"

Seems like every major network 'wanted a piece of him.' Wanted to showcase him as an 'inspirational story' from 'the web' that they were featuring in order to appeal 2 young and old ppl.


Pulling off the 'major network trifecta' [via ABC, NBC, CBS]. The ultimate modern human interest story. A modern 'rags 2 riches story.' The story of a man who went from 'disconnected' 2 'totally viral.'


So many job offers flowing in to Ted Williams. National news networks. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers saw him as a marketable enough meme to 'offer him a job.'

Wonder if it is a good idea to hire a former drug + alcohol addict who is probably 'completely out of touch with the world' 2 join ur workforce. Wonder if employees will welcome him with open arms or if they will be like "I should have been a homeless addict 4 the first 50 years of my life, searching for an opportunity 2 go viral, then have the internet take care of me.'

I heard Ted Willies has had 'many run ins with the law.'

'I heard Ted Willies has 9 kids and used to bone Oprah.'

'I heard Ted Willies is always down to 'relapse' and vibe out on some black tar heroin.'

"Let's dig up his mom who he hasn't talked to in 10 years just to add another character sculpting tool 2 the story. She is probably a good mom [via letting her son spend 10 years living on the streets as a drug addict]."


I feel like a better person
now that I have 'shared' Ted Williams with u
I want u 2 know
that now matter how 'rock bottom' u hit

U always have the chance 2 'go viral'
U always have the chance to 'make mad bank'
U always have the chance 2 inspire
Nvr give up
Nvr effing give up

Because 1 month u can be on a crack bender where ur 'sucking penis in a bathroom 4 money'
and the next week
ur mouth can be delivering positive vibes
on a radio station.

Crack, Cocaine, Prostitution
Weed, Heroin, miscellaneous dark acts
U can rebound
There is hope for 20something.

One sign
One hope
One human meme
One story of hope
2 help boring, middle class ppl feel like they 'saved some1's life' just by 'sharing a link 2 an inspirational story.'

Did the story of Ted Williams 'inspire u'?
Do u want to try to help a homeless man 'go viral' 2 save his life?
Do u have any ideas 2 help homeless people 'go viral' beyond the 'traditional puff piece'?
Does Ted Williams have 'a good voice' or is he an overrated talking head without any substance?
Can homeless people really 'make a quick transition in2 society' or do they have lingering bad habits like 'eating food out of the garbage' and 'drugs'?
Should we establish charities that raise 'hits' instead of 'raising money'?
Can I perform 'public service' by 'watching feel-good stories on the internet' instead of doing manual labor where I am interfacing with people in need?
Is internet virality the 'solution' 2 end homelessness?
Did this story 'improve' ur day and 'give u hope' or does it 'piss u off' that this bro got to 'piss away his life' and then get more opportunities than u likely ever will?

Next time I see a homeless man, I'm going to ask him if he has any talents, and attempt to make him 'go viral' as the last shot he has 2 change his life.


As HRO continues to 'get back 2 itz roots', it will attempt to reconnect with popular gimmicks that it once utilized. You might remember 'Altbro or AltBag' and possibly 'Alt or Bro'--both were games where you had to identify the social genre of a human being. In the following post, you are asked to evaluate whether the woman pictured is a 'legitimate homeless woman' or an 'it girl.' This is meant to question the reader's concept of 'fashion' and demonstrate the impact of societal role reversal on fashion as a method of self expression.

This gimmick is known as "HOMELESS WOMAN or IT GIRL?????"

Photo via the ArabParrot

Do u think the woman in the picture is a HOMELESS WOMAN or an IT GIRL?

Please justify your answer in the comment to receive your free I AM CARLES shirt.

For example:

'She is homeless bc she is really trying to take a nappy on the sidewalk [via her bed made of newspaper].'


'She is an IT GIRL because of her yoga bag and fashion-forward sense of style. Lovin the ironic rain boots. Gonna buy those at Urbby when I get my next paycheck.'


'She is a homeless 'it girl' since the IT GIRL bubble burst in mid-2k8.'

What do yall think she is?
Feeling confused by societal roles and could really use your guidance.

Previous Homelessness Coverage


Play similar editions of this gimmick


Hope and Homelessness--Never give up on Personal Branding.

Photo via thecobrasnake

I saw this picture portraying a homeless man sleeping on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, he had a pee pee accident as his dark yellow urine streamed down towards the star of a celebrity. I felt tons of emotions as my brain processed this digital image. Shame. Guilt. LOLability. Snarkfactor. Sadness. AmericanBeauty. Happiness. Loneliness. Fucksocietivity. Bloggy. Alive. Dead on the inside. Alone. Without a home. Metaphorical. This is the power of photography. A simple man who peed his pants in his sleep [via no home] can say so much about humanity, society, and the struggle 2 create a better life for urself.

The sad/beautiful image of the homeless man made me think of a recent post on the globally acclaimed streetfashion blog 'the Sartorialist' in which the photoblogger posted a picture of a coloured homeless man, then wrote an 'inspiring blurb'.

Photo and blurb by the Sartorialist:

I don't usually shoot homeless people. I don't find it romantic or appealing like a lot of street photographers, and if you asked homeless people they are probably not to happy about their situation either. That's why I was surprised to be so drawn to taking a picture of this gentleman.

I was being interviewed for an article in British Vogue; and while we walked down Bowery back in April I barely stopped walking when I took the shot. Fiona Golfar, the writer, asked why I took the photo. At that moment I couldn't really explain - but I just had a feeling about the power and grace of how he was sitting there. It wasn't until later that night when I was working on the image that I realized why I had noticed this man.

Usually people in this man's position have given up hope. Maybe this gentleman has too, I don't know, but he hasn't given up his sense of self or his sense of expressing something about himself to the world. In my quick shot I had noticed his pale blue boots, what I hadn't noticed at first were the matching blue socks, blue trimmed gloves, and blue framed glasses. This shot isn't about fashion - but about someone who, while down on his luck, hasn't lost his need to communicate and express himself through style.

Looking at him dressed like this makes me feel that in some way he hasn't given in or given up.

Damn. The bloggerbro's inspirational blurb is actually kinda true... It's like even though you might be the poorest, most worthless, homeless guy in the world, it doesn't mean that u can't have a little bit of pride 2 make sure that your clothes match. Never give up. Every day, u have the opportunity to brand yourself--you have the opportunity to let the world know that you are a person, and within this person is a brand which the whole world can consume.

Homelessness is not a disease--homelessness is the product of a group of people who have no pride. A group of people who don't play by society's rules. A group of people living in some demented reality, no longer in touch with the availability of legitimate intrinsic rewards through the power of 'creating.your.own.image.' We must inspire the homeless so that they can inspire us to do more than to take artsy pix of them. It is easy for photographers to take pictures of homeless people because they usually look 'insane', 'urban', and as if society has shat upon them.

A lot of people say that homeless people should 'get a fucking job'--now I firmly believe that they would get a job if they dressed nicely, and treated people with respect. It seems like they could some how get a job at an investment bank, or perhaps a McDonalds, similar to the plotline of the popular Will Smith joint 'The Pursuit of Happyness.'

After reading that inspired blurb, it sort of makes me want to tell this guy to 'get his shit together', and 'have a little bit of pride.' U can't go around pissing on urself and wearing lame ass clothes if you really want to turn ur life around.

It doesn't matter if you can't control your bladder, or if you are mentally challenged, or if you are having 'terrible flashback dreams.' Every day, you need to take pride in yourself. You need to realize that your personal brand is being interpreted by every1 who sees you. Do you want to depress your viewers? Or do you want to inspire them? Be a valuable person--not just to yourself, but also to society as a whole.

This is a blog post about hope.

My parents kicked me out of the house.

Photo via lookbook

My parents kicked me out of the house. I lived in a drug dealer's apartment for several weeks, until he expected me to pay him rent with sexual favors. I found a cozy nook underneath the Main Street bridge. Every night, I curl up on a piece of cardboard, and find myself doing something I haven't done since I became an atheist at 6 years old--I pray. I pray to any one who will listen: God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Allah, Osama Bin Laden, Barry Obama. I pray hard.

One morning I came downstairs expecting to pour myself a bowl of Cinnamon Toast crunch and eat it on the couch while watching reruns of Project Runway and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Both of my parents were waiting at the table for me. They had my pipe on the table, as well as 1 gram of dank, a lil bump of coke, a stack of pornographic DVDs, and a poster board of LSD. They said "What is this?"

I replied, "I'm sorry. I'm going through an experimental phase."
Mom: "Experiment my ass!"
Me: "It's not like you never did any experimenting during ur youth."
Dad: "We don't want you to make the same mistakes that we did."
Mom: "Your dad is right."
Me: "I don't even know why you're confronting me about this when u have problems of your own."
Mom: "I don't know what you're talking about. Your dad and I are doing well."
Me: "You know dad cheated on you with that waitress from Chili's. I can hear through the walls at night."
Dad: "That's enough!"
(mom starts sobbing uncontrollably, leaves the room...silence for 5 minutes)
Me: Well... are you done? I'm going to eat some CTC (cinna toast crunch).
Dad: Listen to me you little shit. I brought you into this world with my semen, and I can take you the fuck out. If you want to live under this roof, you need to get your shit together, and respect me.
Me: Why did you cheat on mom?
Dad: I didn't cheat on your mother....we're not getting into this. I left a cup that I need you to fill up with pee. Please go do that soon.
Me: Why do you need to drug test me if you know I am already on drugs?
Dad: Once again, this is about respect.
Me: I don't respect you.
Dad: Get the fuck out of my house.

I went to my room and put all of my favourite clothes into a bag. I had $60 to my name. I put my Macbook into my computer bag, and left the house through the backdoor. Eventually I found out that there are no wireless networks under bridges, and the ones that do show up require a password.

Every day I go to a local coffee shop to look for jobs, and stay relevant by reading alt websites. However, I am feeling like maybe 'being alt' doesn't even matter. Maybe now that I am on my own, I won't care about social subcultures any more. I just want to be able to feed myself every day. I'm never going back home again. Not to that fucked up family.

I think I'll make it on my own. Maybe I can get a job at Am Appy, and save up enough money to buy an efficiency. I think I'll make it. They say that the hard times are what really make u "you." Sorta like what Steve Carrell told Paul Dano in "Little Miss Sunshine" [via Proust]. These are hard times, but I think I'll get through them and my life will be more meaningful.

Homelessness: Big in 2k9?

[Photo by YapSnaps]
2k9 is all about taking commonly accepted societal norms and throwing them out the window in pursuit of an authentic alternative life. For example, the concept of 'having a home' and 'a roof over your head' and generating a nuclear family from your own seed/egg. I've never wanted a 'real job.' I don't need to buy stuff to 'be happy' or 'express myself.' Take this homelessBro. His personal brand remains strong by utilizing an AltBro Concrete Bed Blanket. The primary & secondary colours represent moving beyond neon. He also implements a zany-core, yet functional shoe-tying method.

Homeless people are kind of like 'as close 2 nature as it gets', and they 'get' architecture because they are actually LIVING in the city. There's more 2 living in a major metropolitan area than 'walking 2 coffee shops/vegan eateries.' U don't KNOW ur city until u have 2 find a way to hunt, shit, and sleep in it. That's why I <3 NYC. I was homeless there for the first 8 months that I started my blog (blggd from the public library). There's more 2 life than 'a roof over ur head and 4 walls around ur face.' As long as u have a MacBook, u can do anything u put ur mind 2.

Important Questions about Homelessness & How Society Perceives Homelessness

Do yall give money to homeless people?
Whenever u walk by a homeless man, do u walk faster and grip ur purse tighter?
Do u consider homeless people 'sub-human' or 'post-human' or just 'human after yall'?
Is homelessness really a problem, or should we just let homeless bros chill?
Do homeless people only buy drugs when u give them money?
Why do s000 many zany homeless men pretend 2 'be veterans'?
R homeless people 'just lazy' and 'wouldn't work if u offered them a job'?
Is a 'drifter' a more authentic homeless man?
If a homeless man attacked u, would u kill him since laws don't protect people who don't own property?
Whenever u see a sleeping homeless man, do u 'get kinda scared that they are dead'?
Can we 'solve' homelessness by sending homeless people 2 prison?
Will Barry Obama do anything 4 the homeless, or just focus on 'the unemployed'?

But srsly yall... Ever since my parents got divorced I have h8ed what 'home' represents. It's like something that is meant 2 fail, but ur whole life ur taught that the world is perfect. Think we need 2 get rid of traditional suburban structures, especially since hurricanes are getting stronger and tear through most homes built after 1940.

"Home is just a bull shit concept. I am depressed."
-Zach Braff, Garden State (Homeless Guy Remix)

Gen Y lifestyle no longer covets 'material things', only digital media that u can store on a hard drive

Just read some 'blog article' that is trying to be 'culturally insightful' about how young people no longer care about material things, and how they just want to live digitally, thru their iPhones, iPads, iMacbooks, and Kindles. People can live 'digitally' thru the internet, so u don't really have to own a bunch of other knick-knacks to pin up on ur walls / fill up bookshelves to 'prove who u r' n e more because u can just show people who u r with social media/facebook twitter.

Are you a '21st Century Minimalist'? Have u gotten rid of all of ur books/CDs/DVDs/blu-rays? (Did u get rid of them to live a simple life, or to get some quick fix drug money?)

Many have begun trading in CD, DVD, and book collections for digital music, movies, and e-books. But this trend in digital technology is now influencing some to get rid of nearly all of their physical possessions - from photographs to furniture to homes altogether.

Let's face it - digital files, applications and web services are replacing the need for many of the physical goods that pepper our homes, crowd our desks and fill our closets.

Wonder if u can only be a minimalist if ur a Mac User, or if you could get by with an old, bulky Dell Desktop

Sorta worried that life won't be as meaningful if everything exists digitally. Feel like we need 'crap' in our lives'

This bro seems pretty alt. Seems to be 'from Williamsburg.' Maybe shoulda made this blog headline showcase the word 'hipster.' Do yall 'effing h8' young urban adults who rely on technology?

Meet Kelly Sutton, a spiky-haired 22-year-old software engineer with thick-rimmed glasses and an empty apartment in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood - a hotbed for New York's young, early adopters of new technology.

Mr Sutton is the founder of CultofLess.com, a website which has helped him sell or give away his possessions - apart from his laptop, an iPad, an Amazon Kindle, two external hard drives, a "few" articles of clothing and bed sheets for a mattress that was left in his newly rented apartment.

This 21st-Century minimalist says he got rid of much of his clutter because he felt the ever-increasing number of available digital goods have provided adequate replacements for his former physical possessions.

"I think cutting down on physical commodities in general might be a trend of my generation - cutting down on physical commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts will be a fact," said Mr Sutton.
Kelly Sutton Mr Sutton sold or gave away most of his assets, apart from his iPad, Kindle, laptop and a few other items

The tech-savvy Los Angeles "transplant" credits his external hard drives and online services like iTunes, Hulu, Flickr, Facebook, Skype and Google Maps for allowing him to lead a minimalist life.

"I think the shift to all digital formats in all methods and forms of media consumption is inevitable and coming very quickly," said Mr Sutton.

Sorta wish I could go crash at this bro's pad, but he probably doesn't even have a spare air mattress + extra pillow for me.

Anyways, this article continues to 'force' the idea of people who only own a laptop, by creating some new gimmick called "virtual homelessness."

Here is a virtually homeless bro who is actually a DJ. Seems to carry around a lil piano

Chris Yurista, a DJ from Washington, DC, cites this trend in digital music as one reason he was able to hand over the keys to his basement apartment over a year ago.

"It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside - the internet has replaced my need for an address," the 27-year-old said.

Since boxing up his physical possessions and getting rid of his home, Mr Yurista has taken to the streets with a backpack full of designer clothing, a laptop, an external hard drive, a small piano keyboard and a bicycle - an armful of goods that totals over $3,000 (£1,890) in value.

The American University graduate, who spends much of his time basking in the glow emanating from his Macbook, earns a significant income at his full-time job as a travel agent and believes his new life on the digital grid is less cluttered than his old life on the physical one.

"I don't feel a void living the way I'm living because I've figured out a way to use digital technology to my advantage," Mr Yurista explained.

Mr Yurista feels by digitising his life, he no longer has to worry about dusting, organising and cleaning his possessions. And he says his new intangible goods can continue to live on indefinitely with little maintenance.

Wonder if this bro got evicted. Don't really know if 'travel agents' exist in the expedia/orbitz/kayak/southwest.com era.

Feel like his bros are probably pissed at him for crashing on their couches every goddamn day.

The DJ has now replaced his bed with friends' couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s.

Have u ever had some1 who just crashed at your apt/house without really 'being welcome', and just chilled there for like weeks/months before u had to make up an excuse to kick them out?

Anyways, then they talk about some other digitally homeless bro, who apparently 'went homeless' with his wife. Seems impossible. All women get married so that they can be taken care of by their sugar daddie. Not sure if most women would be down with 'going homeless.'

But Mr Yurista is not the only digital vagabond.

Joshua Klein, a New York City-based technology innovation consultant, also set out on the road with his hard drive.

He and his wife digitised their possessions, got rid of two-thirds of what they owned and headed to the streets of New York for nine months with their laptops.

But Mr Klein and Mr Yurista both admit there are risks involved.

Mr Klein says the lifestyle can become loathsome because "you never know where you will sleep". And Mr Yurista says he frequently worries he may lose his new digital life to a hard drive crash or downed server.

Do u hope these 'virtually homeless people' are shanked in a bum fight, and their macbooks are used as firewood?
Do u think these are just young people who got 'laid off' but can't move home because their parents h8 them?
Is this type of article the 'antithesis' of the standard article abt how Gen Y people are moving in with their parents until they find 'their dream job'?
Do virtually homeless people 'beg' for money, or do they just ask ppl to paypal them when they get home?
Are virtually homeless people crowding the streets, stealing the resources + space from 'authentic homeless people' who 'genuinely need help'?

(Not sure if authentic homeless people are allowed to use wifi for 6 hours in a starbucks.)

R u gonna go digital + minimal?
What kind of possessions do u own?
Should I sell my Criterion collection DVDs + Salinger short stories collection?
Do true alts need to 'collect shit'?
Is it 'hypocritical' to 'not care about material things' but still need to acquire technological gadgets 2 keep u connected?
Do u live a 'minimal' life by choice, or did u max out ur credit card buying Apple products?
Do poor people live a 'minimalist' lifestyle, or do they just not have money 2 buy things?
Are homeless people 'hoarders' [via shopping carts filled with stuff]?
Do yall h8 articles like this that turn the lives' of a few ass holes into some sort of 'cultural phenomenon'?
Gonna just move to suburbia, get a huge TV, and fill my garage up with shit for the next 30 years.

Herd of homeless alts live off free food at sponsored alt events

Photo by thecobrasnake

It was the summer of 2k10. That's when me and my fam started arguing a lot. I'd stay out to late partying, raving, and giving oral sex to my bffs on my parent's front porch. Needless to say, things didn't end well. My parents told me I had to stop going to raves, after a few of my friends died in Los Angeles/Germany. I was hella bummed because they didn't understand that I kept myself super hydrated when I dropped E. Always had a 'babysitter'/designated bro.

N e ways... We had a huge fight and I got kicked out of the house. It didn't help that I told them I didn't want to go to community college. They told me it was a 'stepping stone', and eventually I'd transfer to UCLA or USC, but those schools are for mainstream bros. I just wanna get a job working in 'the industry.' Not sure which 'the industry' i want to work in, but probably one with a 'party' lifestyle.

But as for now, I'm effing young. My whole life is ahead of me. I really just want to spend some time forging meaningful relationships with other people who are young, who are searching 4 the same things that I am.

We don't need a 'home.'
We don't need parents & 'direction.'
There are so many sponsored events these days, we can just camp out outside of them, waiting to get free 'gear', 'food', and 'alcohol.' All we have to do is look 'moderately alt' and we can hit up any free event from LA to NYC, from Miami to Burning the Man, from Chicago to Indio, from Bonnarooville to the City Limits of Austin.

It feels good to be young, living off Vitamin Water and a sweet Subway diet [via Jared].
I feel like I finally have a family. Reading 1 another bed time stories. There's no such thing as 'day' or 'night.' We are truly free.

One time I saw my parents' minivan drive by. I wonder if they're even looking for me. I hope not, because for the first time, I finally feel like I am part of something. Being a homeless alt enables me to live a truly on-the-go lifestyle (usually advertised by trendy mobile phones) where I am [literally] on the ground floor of relevant events across the country. Lucrative sponsorship deals enable alts like me to eat for free. In addition, u can find a lot of bread + bologna in Subway dumpsters.

Have u ever been a homeless alt?
Do u exploit free food/alcohol at relevant sponsored alt events?
Will herds of homeless alts ruin 'free' events by hoarding all of the 'goodies'?
Have u seen great results on the Subway diet?
What's ur fave $5 footlong?

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