San Francisco in the golden age of ‘Glassholes’

I was working in San Francisco’s Mission District when I made an effort to befriend the office nerd.

To say that Timothy was socially awkward would be an understatement. Because of the way he craned his neck to peek over his cubicle every five minutes he earned the nickname “Meerkat”, but that was just the beginning. Upon meeting a new client or coworker Timothy would strike up a conversation about what he learned while googling them. And then there were the Facebook issues.

Facebook stalking was Timothy’s primary social outlet, and on Monday mornings he’d lumber around the office with a self-satisfied smile, arms held in a T-Rex fashion with his folded hands resting on his ample belly, interrupting work conversations with something like: “It looked like YOU had a lot of fun on your camping trip! Haha!” Later in the lunchroom, he’d gleefully recap everyone else’s weekend.

Sure it was all information that was freely available online, but aren’t there still issues of boundaries and decorum?

I’ve thought a lot about Timothy lately in the wake of Peeping Tom/Anti-Privacy Advocate Sarah Slocum’s headlines claiming she was the victim of a “hate crime” after angry bar patrons flipped her off, and reportedly took the Google Glass off her face while she was recording them at a Haight bar.

The woman who flipped her off exclaimed “You’re killing our city!”

Those words have resonated with many San Franciscans in the wake of mass evictions, and the pervasive impression of the new tech-worker residents as soulless parasites feeding off the “cool” they’re displacing.

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann in Google Glasses (source: Luke Russert via Twitter)

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann sporting her Google Glass (source: Luke Russert via Twitter).

Not only are long term residents being displaced at historic levels, the new residents feverishly work to tame the neighborhoods they’ve consumed – complaining about noise from nightlife, and electing leaders sympathetic to their pro-gentrification agenda, like Supervisor Scott Wiener, who in 2012 stamped out one of the last libertine vestiges of the Summer of Love with his nudity ban.

Although people offended by public nudity had 88,000 municipalities in the US to choose from, and about 39 San Francisco neighborhoods were it wasn’t common, a vocal group moved to the epicenter, Market & Castro, then carried on and caterwauled about being “eye raped,” until the local laws were brought in line with places like Topeka and Peoria.

Now there’s a move by some to rebrand half of the Castro with the less “gay,” more collegiate-sounding name, “The Quad.”

Like Slocum, Timothy felt entitled to feed off the lives of those around him. When I began writing in opposition to the nudity ban, he felt entitled to target my unrelated livelihood – unsuccessfully attempting to use my writings and Facebook posts against me.

Slocum, it turns out, was accused by neighbors of surreptitiously recording them with her smartphone through an open window, according to court documents. They successfully got a restraining order against her.

Glassholes aren’t big on boundaries, and their kind seem to have reached a critical mass in San Francisco. Whatever the future holds for the city, we can be certain it will be recorded.

Chris Andoe
Chris Andoe is an author and seasoned activist. After meeting John Aravosis at a Chicago “StopDrLaura.com” protest in 2000, Chris was inspired to organize his own major demonstrations in St. Louis, which drew national attention. Since then, his activism has revolved around LGBT, affordable housing, and mass transit issues. In 2011 Andoe made headlines taking on the amorphous hacker group Anonymous for publishing nude photos of a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson, saying “Puritanical shame-based tactics have no place in the capital of sexual liberation”, and he extensively covered San Francisco's jarring gentrification, from mass evictions to the nudity ban. Andoe was on the ground in Ferguson at the height of the unrest, recording events as they unfolded. Always in the fray, Andoe’s been interviewed by NPR, CBS, and has been quoted from CNN to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.

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