June 12, 2017

A San Francisco techie "randomizes" his life with an app that has him picked up, then dropped off at some public event somewhere nearby.

NPR has this story about a bespectacled, red-headed guy named Max Hawkins.
He built an app that used a Facebook search function for public events to find ones near him. Then the app would randomly choose which event Max would attend.

At first, he was nervous: What if people wouldn't let him in? But, as a kind of unassuming white guy, he actually didn't have this problem. (And Max acknowledges this privilege.) Once Max explained how and why he had arrived at these events, hosts usually welcomed him, often with only a few questions asked. Most of the time, people were taken by the idea of Max expanding his bubble.

One night, he got to drink white Russians with some Russians. Another, he attended acroyoga (as in, acrobatics + yoga). A community center pancake breakfast. A networking event for young professionals. The algorithm chose; Max attended.

Most of these events were something that the nonrandomized Max would never have thought to try. The computer was breaking him out of a life driven by his own preferences.... Would the old Max have chosen to attend a socialists' rally in Berlin? Or a meetup for bloggers of central Iowa?...
How does it work with a nonunassuming white guy or a nonwhite unassuming guy or an unassuming white woman or a nonunassuming white woman or an unassuming black woman or a nonunassuming black woman or a nonunassuming black man? I'm glad there is such an app and an idea of randomizing your life. And I'm glad Max acknowledges his privilege. You might think that an unassuming white woman (like me) would have the most privilege when arriving somewhere randomly, but I find it very difficult to go into scenes where I'm not sure my presence is welcome and virtually always err on the side of not imposing. But perhaps if an app dictated where I would go, it would get me out of that box.

ALSO: When "Max explained how and why he had arrived at these events, hosts usually welcomed him," but he's one guy, with his own new and quirky idea. If the app were to catch on, there'd be multiple Maxes, all over the place. At some point, people would feel overrun. What if you tried to set up some public event for some specific purpose and then all you got were 10 Maxes? Maybe there's a stage 2 to this social experiment.

51 comments:

Sebastian said...

"And I'm glad Max acknowledges his privilege." Why?

Virtually Unknown said...

If we ever get into a war with these snowflakes, we will probably break their code the same way the Brits broke the Nazi code, the Nazis couldn't resist to say "Hell Hitler" to start off messages, and these guys will not be able to resist "acknowledging their privilege."

tcrosse said...

In San Francisco is a cis-gendered presumably-straight white male privileged ?

Virtually Unknown said...

Frickin' autocorrect!

Ken B said...

Let into a PUBLIC event? Must be privilege.

exhelodrvr1 said...

You know what happens when you unassume!!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

tcrosse said...

...presumably-straight...

Have you looked at the picture?

readering said...

Possibly public events that are under-attended.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If the app were to catch on,...

If the app catches on, muggers will start posting public events in dark alleys.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Do you suppose there might be a similar app that puts random items on your bucket list of things to do before you die? Perhaps Donald Trump had that app and it told him to run for President.

AlbertAnonymous said...

What happens when the app sends him to a pro-life rally or some non-leftist cause?

What if he got dropped at a Trump rally?

Lem said...

What part of a screening Wonder Woman for women only did Max not understand?

TreeJoe said...

I acknowledge my privilege that when I seem to look like a conforming, non-threatening adult I am more frequently accepted. It is my privilege to choose these chinos and light colored oxford shirts.

I also acknowledge my privilege that should I choose to walk into a biker bar or many other places at 2am looking the same I may be accepted in a very different fashion. That is also my privilege.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I think it's a really great idea. I love the idea he is expanding his experiences. And I really don't think most people hosting a public event would be upset people with an open mind wanted to attend. Isn't that why they made it public.

he got to drink white Russians with some Russians that doesn't sound right to me. "too sweet"))

Bob Boyd said...

A virtue signalling party crasher.

EDH said...

If the app were to catch on, there'd be multiple Maxes, all over the place. At some point, people would feel overrun.

Hence the term, "Maxed Out"?

MrCharlie2 said...

"we will probably break their code ..."

Who do you think breaks codes?

tcrosse said...

...presumably-straight...

Have you looked at the picture?


Gay guys usually care how they look.

Yancey Ward said...

To be fair to the subject of the NPR piece, it seems to have been them asking Hawkins to acknowledge his privilege. If I had been asked, however, I would have told them to fuck off, but that is just me.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Well-behaved, young people of any race or gender are usually welcome at most events where people of even marginally good will are gathered. Our family gatherings often end up looking like a Benetton ad as classmates, friends of friends, aunts of friends, brother-in-laws of brother-in-laws, are effortlessly made welcome in the hive.
The fact that this guy thinks it's his race and gender that enables his entrance to these places marks him as a douche. And a racist.

John Tuffnell said...

I heard there are these places called churches where people gather that are open to the public. I hear the hosts usually welcome you., sometimes without asking any questions. You might even drink some wine with them, or attend a pancake breakfast. And as far as I know, these church places are even more efficient than Max's system, because you don't need an app for that.

Virtually Unknown said...

I doubt that people so well educated in grievance studies in lieu of rigorous logic make the best code beakers.

Bay Area Guy said...

Hah - Max and his ilk in SF are silly. Obviously, they don't have kids. Obviously, they are bored.

True, he's not hurting anybody, and maybe, heck, he'll meet a girl through this silly gambit and the article chronicling his silly gambit.

But, the bottom line, Max -- try to find a productive hobby! Try to find a concrete purpose for your limited time on Planet Earth. Try to find a woman to impress who will sleep with you. Millions of other men figure this stuff out. Some are geekier and less attractive than you! It's not that hard.

Donald Caster, Ohio Innocence Project said...

Isn't this just an updated version of the plot of the Jim Carrey movie "Yes Man"?

madAsHell said...

I can't believe Max Hawkins exists. The article is click-bait, and bullshit.

Paco Wové said...

I can't believe they missed the opportunity to write "he got to drink white Russians with some white Russians" (assuming they were, which seems like a good bet).

Goldenpause said...

Life isn't random enough without an app?

Owen said...

His algorithm becomes a source of privilege. "Hi, you don't know me and I have no idea who you are, but this random feature I put into my phone told me to crash your event, OK? So I can come in, right?"

What a nerdy jackass.

JLScott said...

Virtually Unknown said...
If we ever get into a war with these snowflakes, we will probably break their code the same way the Brits broke the Nazi code, the Nazis couldn't resist to say "Hell Hitler" to start off messages, and these guys will not be able to resist "acknowledging their privilege."

Hey, you might be onto something. We could use these guys as code talkers, like the Navajo in WWII. Depending who we are fighting, the enemy will have no idea what they're talking about.

Bob Ellison said...

Stage 2 is setting up fake events and making fun of the people who show up.

Back in maybe 1980 or so, the Harvard Lampoon posted signs during freshmen intro week about the meeting of the 1600 Club-- incoming freshpeople who scored a perfect 1600 on their SATs. Then they took pictures (probably Polaroids) of the poor young people who attended.

How about a Vegan Fish Fry for the Earth? The fish would be advertised as breaded and herbed celery and kale sticks. Put it on FaceBook and Twitter and photograph the people who show up.

The Godfather said...

John Tushnell (3:47 pm) is right that you can drop into a church w/o an invitation and, if it's anything like the churches I've visited, you'll be welcomed. You may be ignored by the regulars at the coffee hour though, but the coffee's free.

I still don't understand why this guy has to explain his attendance at public events. Maybe they're only notionally public, but really intended for a particular group, like Russian emigres, or chicken ranchers, or single moms?

Bob Ellison said...

I was in the hospital recently, and a lay chaplain visited me.

He was humble and kind, and he invited me to a get-together. "Do you like breakfast? We start at 7:00 AM! Lotta food. Show up early." I'm diabetic and can't afford to get excited about lots of food, and I have sons to watch over. Missed that opportunity. That chaplain is a really nice guy.

Ann Althouse said...

"Stage 2 is setting up fake events and making fun of the people who show up."

Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking about. And then these people would have each other. Kind of sweet perhaps... and humiliating.

Sebastian said...

@Cracker: "The fact that this guy thinks it's his race and gender that enables his entrance to these places marks him as a douche. And a racist." See, this is one of the reasons I wondered why AA liked that this character "acknowledged his privilege." WTF?

Ann Althouse said...

I liked it because it acknowledged that he understood that the fact that his method worked for him isn't proof enough that it would work for everyone. Others using his app might not have such rewarding experiences. More testing is needed to show that hia method would work. It would be very sad if a black person tried it and felt unwelcome, and I myself, as a white woman, doubt that I could merge into events like this. I find it hard to merge even with block parties on my own block. There's shunning in this world and sensitivity about being shunned. Males have special access. That's my perception. Yes, women have a form of special access, but it's different. And personally, I would not go somewhere if I thought it was physically sketchy.

Bob Ellison said...

It's a matter of confidence. You must walk into the situation as James Bond or as Wonder Woman.

Walk in, showing with your face and your strut that you own the situation, and let them come to you. And then be nicer than they expect you to be.

That's pretty much what Trump does.

Bob Ellison said...

"There's shunning in this world and sensitivity about being shunned. Males have special access. That's my perception."

Um, where and how? Have you ever been challenged to a fight? Do you know what that's like?

Special access. Hmm. Like we can go grab the genitals? We males do that all the time, right?

Bullshit.

Fernandinande said...

My pre-app idea, never fruitionated, was for people at the airport to go home with random families.

Virtually Unknown said...

Figures the racist son of a bitch dint drink any black Russians.

Rob McLean said...

At first, he was nervous: What if people wouldn't let him in? But, as a kind of unassuming white guy, he actually didn't have this problem.

Good thing Max doesn't live in Detroit.

MadisonMan said...

Good thing Max doesn't live in Detroit.

Or on Chicago's south side.

George Grady said...

Well, I must admit that, as a fellow unassuming white guy, I've never felt less than completely welcome anywhere I've gone! Honest!

The Cracker Emcee said...

" Males have special access. That's my perception. "

Your perception, indeed. Upper middle-class white women probably have wider social access than any other group (except for hot chicks, who are a kind of minor royalty in this world).

Mary Beth said...

If an event is public, I would expect to be able to go without worrying that I'd be shunned. My worry would be that I don't know if I could make small talk with strangers.

Mike said...

One night, he got to drink white Russians with some Russians.

I hear Comey was investigating that event.

Mike said...

A community center pancake breakfast...

These are very commonly used to raise money for local fire departments and other small-town things (clubs, parks etc.). I guess it might seem exotic and something for which one needs an app to suggest in San Francisco. Same state I live in but a world away.

traditionalguy said...

San Fran and environs is special. It is a massive population of intelligent multi cultures sharing this place with respect for the differences of others. It is the melting pot done right. It is superficial and happy being that way.

We are doing the Northern California pilgrimage again: SF, Napa, Sonoma, and Steinbeck Country of Salinas Valley, Carmel and Monterey.

This weekend they are redoing the 50th anniversary of the Monterrey Rock Festival at the same location. It was the first 1967 Summer of Love festival. It was produced by the Mommas and the Poppas guy and dozens of his friends that all became famous later.

But it is $100 a person a day, and we don't know most of the performers.we will see.

Crazy Jane said...

The self-absorption of some of our millennials is beyond parody. Used to be funny. Now it's getting old and a bit pathetic.

stlcdr said...

NPR? Ah, of course. NPR does this kind of story all the time. A voyeristic peek into someone else's life, which is all nicey nicey. Some of them are very compelling - as they are designed to be - but very boring. The low-level dynamic yet monotonic way that NPR has makes everything just seem so nice; how can you object to anything we say? It's infuriating.

pious agnostic said...

Whew! This privilege protects him from the frequent, savage beatings that anyone else would experience at a pancake breakfast.

I wonder if he ever showed up some place in a sketch neighborhood and told the Uber driver, "You know what, let's go to Appleby's instead."

ChrisPer said...

"Your perception, indeed. Upper middle-class white women probably have wider social access than any other group (except for hot chicks, who are a kind of minor royalty in this world)."

Even ordinary non-hot chicks travelling or out of place are welcomed and cared for by strangers, according to my well-travelled (and cute) wife.
There comes a life-stage when the 'young woman privilege' evaporates and the cop just writes the ticket without kindness in his tone; and the girl who never knew she was young and attractive realises that something went away.