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Why do you think you're smarter than he is, and not just luckier?

Did you read his entire comment? Assuming he didn't edit it after your post (and it appears he didn't, since he starts off admitting that half of him feels that way,) he concludes that "maybe I was just luckier."

He admits being torn on the subject, but that doesn't change that many able-bodied, mentally sound people can do more than they're necessarily capable of realizing while in the throes of despair.

"Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps" may not be the sort of advice that someone is able to grasp while depressed, but on the off chance they are able to hear it, it's sound advice. There's little doubt that many people, if not most people in the world could be trying harder than they do. It's also easy to get carried away with being down on your luck.

I don't disagree with many of the points you've made, but they also don't necessarily discount the points of the poster you responded to either. Self-teaching from a library might be a poor substitute for a proper university, but it's still miles and away better than sitting on your ass waiting for your situation to change.

Anyway, I'll apologize as well, because your knee-jerk reaction spurred one of my own, and I don't mean to seem harsh, but I think the criticism to the parent was unnecessary, and I feel like perhaps you missed the part where he bares empathy.

Edit: I completely blew my cool there. I don't think my narrative-voice was yelling, but it was definitely speaking in harsher tones than I like to, and for that, I owe you another apology.

I think I'm generally fed up with how unnecessarily mean HN has become lately, and how knee-jerk everything seems to be. This is me adding on to that, and for that I am genuinely sorry. I would like to ask though (of myself as well), in the future, if you could take 10 seconds and re-read a post before blasting its author, it would make a huge difference over all.




Saying that "maybe I was just luckier" at the end is a pretty lame cop-out after spending the remaining 90% of the comment belittling the person for not being so lucky.

Personally, I see someone who is constantly applying to jobs and working as much as they can in the jobs they are able to get as having hoisted their bootstraps as high as they can reach.

Frankly, if you're looking for mean posts, look at those belittling people in dire straits before blasting those that have the temerity to rise to defend them.

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I'm not AVTizzle, and can't speak for the tone and timbre of his post, but I feel like you took it completely out of context, as he appears to question his own feelings on the matter.

Regardless, I was acting out of frustration, and you're of course welcome to read it however you like, however wrong I might feel that it is.

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AVTizzle's post was, to me, so ignorant it was bordering on bigotry. So it's not just falcolas who was offended by it.

I tried hard not to respond to it as the hateful screed I felt it was. I had to cut lots from my post before I felt comfortable sending it. But, really, come on. Anyone posting paragraphs of "they just don't work hard enough" and "I took control" in response to personal stories of homelessness is going to get posts from people with different life experiences saying just how wrong that post is.

Re-reading AVTizzle's post now I am still angered by it, but I don't think it's hateful. Just ignorant.

{META} I agree that HN can be needlessly harsh, and I welcome people who work to avoid that. Normal advice is to save a post to drafts and go back to it later for sending. That's not easy on HN - there isn't any save to drafts (unless you use a script or weird text editor interface) and there's pretty big time pressure on posting. The guidelines are a good start to describing acceptable behaviour. I'm not sure about a good way to remind people of them. And recently there have been many 'hot button' ('shallowly, but intensely, interesting') topics, so maybe some over-enthusiastic posting has carried over from those.

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And in all fairness, I think that the tone of your response was a hundred times less inflammatory than the post I responded to (and sadly, far less inflammatory than the post of mine you are responding to).

In an ideal world, more HNers would temper their reactions to start crying 'bullshit' and put more effort into treating each other like human beings. If more did exactly as you'd done, HN would be a far better place than it currently is.

AVTizzle's post may or may not meet that definition, as he hasn't responded to clarify his position, but he also isn't speaking directly about a particular person in general, rather, he's speaking about his own mindset about a group of people, and he's been blasted for it.

Thanks for the extra data point -- I'm a little amazed that we interpret the reference post so differently, but I thank you for clarifying.

Regarding the harshness, I didn't mean to imply that I felt this was a very recent phenomenon. And in fact, the HN of many years ago had perhaps far more in the way of pissing matches, but they were more academic in tone. I think it's that precedent that encourages the head-butting we see now, but either because people have 'settled in', or the community standards have lowered, there are less people who can say "No, I think that you're wrong -- here's why," without resorting to pejoratives and insults. I realize how potentially futile change is, but the idealist in me hopes it isn't.

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Bigoted against what?

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Against the homeless. I'm not sure what your question is.

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So nobody can criticize people who are homeless without being labeled a bigot? That doesn't seem productive.

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"a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot)

You can criticize the poor and homeless, but too many completely reject the idea that their struggles can be something other than self-imposed. That rejection turns criticism into bigotry.

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We're all walking the tightrope. Its an important part of our mental gymnastics that we regard those who fall as 'deserving it' or at least that its their own fault, that we'll avoid their error. Otherwise we'd all clutch and panic.

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No, I think it's far more honest to just clutch and panic.

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I didn't get that sense from the OP at all. In fact, they even mentioned that it may be related to luck after all. I'd be more careful about throwing the term "bigot" around in the future if I were you.

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About luck: in the final sentence, they mention luck. But even that is just I'm lucky I'm not lazy, I'm lucky I was born with the gift of hard-work and determination, rather than I'm lucky I've avoided the external forces that send people homeless.

They write a long post about how people who are homeless "don't get it".

They say things like "go to the public library", and "quit blaming the economy".

They say things like "I make sacrifices, I toil, I struggle, but I make it work."

I've edited the OP a bit - maybe this explains the bits I concentrated on.

"I can't tell you honestly why [...] I would be so driven. Why [...] I would be curious enough to seek out the books, essays, podcasts, and blog posts that have shaped my entrepreneurial character.

Why was I drawn towards the heroes and role models that I was - business and technology leaders, instead of rock-stars or athletes - who inspired me towards a particular path?"

It feels to me like it's hateful, obnoxious, vile writing. (Other people disagree, and that's fine.) People who are homeless do not have entrepreneurs as role models? People who are homeless do not have intellectual curiosity? The economy has no affect upon a person's ability to gain employment? People who are homeless did not struggle hard to make things work before the rug was pulled?

I sincerely wish AVTizzle never has to experience homelessness. But perhaps they should temper their remarks about homeless people until s/he's met a few or been in that situation.

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Well, it seems like a nuanced issue. There are both homeless people who are lazy and unlucky and rich people who are lazy but lucky. I think the OP has a general disdain for lazy people, regardless whether they are rich or homeless. I rather doubt he'd be praising some trust fund baby who's also lazy.

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I'd be more careful about checking that the person you're replying to said the thing you're replying to. I was offering a definition and a criteria for distinguishing between criticism of the poor and bigotry against the poor. I haven't called anyone a bigot.

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Sorry, my mistake. I'd be more careful about defending someone's poor use of the word "bigot".

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I wasn't defending it.

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Upon re-reading your post I take back what I said. I was really taking issue with the user who originally called the OP a bigot. Sorry bout that.

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All is forgiven.

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No, you can criticise people who are homeless.

What you can't do is use your lucky situation to cast all homeless people as feckless, lazy, stupid, inflexible people who deserve to be homeless because they just don't make enough effort.

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What would you self-teach yourself at a library that would land you a job later? It might work for programming, but not for that much else? "Hi I'm your new physician, I learnt how to operate reading books in the library" :-)

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Could pickup some more standard IT skills which would help you doing admin type work?

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Since you asked, there are a variety of jobs that fit the criteria of not requiring a college degree and that are learnable from books, practice and practical experience alone.

Sales, Software Development, Blogger, Author, Administrative Assistant, Fire fighter, Telecom engineer, (think Comcast/Verizon installers) Appliance Repair, Personal Trainer, Dietary Advisor, etc.

None of these may be a person's 'ideal' job, but the majority of them pay well and can be gotten with learnable education, practice, or a good interview.

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Blogger, author, and administrative assistant do not pay well in the vast majority of cases and cannot be gotten easily -- decently-paid positions in those fields are very competitive.

Sales is usually commission-based.

Fire-fighter requires physical fitness. Appliance repair requires appliances. Personal trainer and dietary advisor... are those even real jobs outside the tiny enclaves of the very rich?

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They are. Personal trainers typically work at gyms and are 'for hire'. Dietary advisors are probably less common, but I was just looking for a few example fields for things you could learn from the library, for which I think that fits the bill.

You're not wrong that there are barriers to these jobs, but that's true of anything. As IT professionals, we're used to seeing "minimum 10 years practical experience + portfolio + FizzBuzz tests" as job requirements, but almost every job has some barrier to entry, whether it be related experience, references or what have you.

Construction jobs (in boom times) are more plentiful, but require physical fitness, tools and the ability to be handy. Pizza delivery generally requires a vehicle, insurance, a clean driving record, etc.

There is no magical place that people can go to become employed, but I tried to pick fields that had learnable skill sets or (in the case of the first few, definitely sales) jobs where one's pluck and enthusiasm could go a long way towards landing. I've worked with a LOT of salespeople over the years, and it's all personality-based at the entry levels, if you can convince the person to give you the job, you can get the job. It isn't until one tries to progress in sales that past performance even becomes that big a deal.

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Carpentry? Sewing?

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Carpentry learned in a library! Wow, no wonder that people make ignorant "just pick yourself up by your bootstraps"-type comments. Complete and utter disconnection from reality.

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Tell us, what are the things you could learn at a library that could translate into earning income?

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I don't recall saying there was anything that you could learn in a library that would translate into earning income. Though if I were in a situation where that was my only option, I'd personally pick web programming. That probably has the lowest barrier to entry of anything you could actually learn by just reading a book.

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Would you hire a carpenter who had 0 experience but had read a lot of books at the library when you could alternatively hire a carpenter with actual experience?

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Is sewing still a viable source of income? There are a few shops where I live, but they all seem to be run by old people with immigrant background (no offense, it just might indicate that they are willing to work for little money).

Carpentry takes years to learn the official way where I live. And you need tools.

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