Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Justin Keller is suffering.
He’s on the streets.
Well, he is when he goes to get his lunch, I suppose. Or when he wanders into an office building from an Uber.
But he’s truly suffering. I know this because he wrote an open letter to San Francisco mayor Ed Lee and police chief Greg Suhr.
Let me use Keller’s own words to delineate the depths of his pain.
For example: “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”
That almost made you cry, didn’t it? For Keller, I mean.
He’s going to work, trying to make a fortune from his company Commando.io and his eye-ohs are filled with images he’d simply rather not see.
Justin Keller has been suffering for a long time.
He moved to San Francisco three years ago. In his letter, he offered three recent incidents when allegedly homeless people interfered with his optimum San Francisco experience.
These people were either drunk, distraught or lying down in a movie theater.
“I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place,” he said in his letter.
It’s not good when you don’t give your parents a perfect impression, is it? It can come back to haunt you.
Justin Keller is clearly suffering. Perhaps even more than Kanye West currently.
I fear, though, that there are elements to his letter that might not gain universal sympathy.
The tone, for example.
Somehow, he seems frightfully superior, so very appalled at having to share a city with people who didn’t work hard enough and are therefore simply aren’t wealthy.
You’d imagine, though, that being a tech entrepreneur he knows how to solve all this. Tech entrepreneurs, you see, are constantly “making the world a better place.”
Instead, Keller wrote: “I don’t have a magic solution… It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. Money and political pressure can make change.”
The thing about political pressure is that it has to be, in some way, impressive.
This open letter opens only the very elitism, the very self-lovingness that is associated with the tech world in general.
After suggested calling homeless people “riff-raff” wasn’t too kind, Keller amended his open letter with the words: “I want to apologize for using the term riff raff. It was insensitive and counterproductive.” one or two people on Twitter
Oh, if only that one hyphenated word constituted all the insensitivity and counterproductiveness contained in his letter.
Tech entrepreneurs are sometimes bemused that they aren’t universally welcomed as the just saviors of mankind.
After all, they have logic on their side. They have algorithms.
Somehow, though, one gets the impression that a few have left their humanity behind.
Homelessness is a genuine and painful problem in San Francisco. Some, though, might regard the heartless myopia of some techie types as genuinely painful too.
Especially after reading Keller’s remarkable openness.