Imagine, if you will, a person who is down on his luck and has neither home nor income to help secure a place to live. A person, as it were, who is so poor that they wonder how they will pay for every meal, not to mention being careful not to damage the shirt on their back as it may be their only one. Now imagine that someone tells this individual that they have a job for them to do and it is simple. All they have to do is stand still and hold an ashtray in front of them so that people at a party who are smokers will have a place to flick their ashes.

Does this sound like a job that would be below the dignity of any human being? Consider the real life case of the South by Southwest Festival, where real human beings were turned into routers to help accommodate the tremendous number of technologically advanced visitors to the festival who would need wi-fi access for their journalistic and other needs.

How exactly did this work? During the festival, people looking for a strong wi-fi connection would find these individuals who were wearing shirts that had “I’m *name*, a 4G hotspot” on them.  People would then give them money in exchange for internet access. The hotspot individual would get all of the money and the person paying would get the privilege of getting a good high speed connection.

For me, this kind of so-called job is not really a job at all because, much like the example of the ashtray holding individual, it is not so much work as it is just standing there being used, so to speak. The person providing the hotspot is not making any effort to do work other than being there. To me, it is a few notches below the people who hold signs pointing out where restaurants can be located, and vastly different from the people who hand out fliers and advertising cards on the street — they are making a legitimate effort to provide a sort of service, even if that service is most often not desired.

As the linked article mentions, it is not too much different than having the person get on their hands and knees and turn themselves into a human coffee table. It is perfectly commendable to create jobs, but the jobs should not humiliate the people getting them to the point of making them sub-human.

2 Comments