Rich Kids of Instagram? How About the Homeless Kids of Facebook

New sociological study shows plenty of homeless use social media for finding food, shelter, and connection.

Some media watchers have been crowing lately about the rise of a culture of bragging and a "spiral of self promotion" spawned, in large part, by our social media-saturated lives. Perhaps the pinnacle of this development is the tumblr Rich Kids of Instagram which has gone viral thanks to a whole lot of head slapping and tsk-tsking.

So what about the other extreme? One sociologist recently studied how homeless people use social media and found that many of them use it as a basic survival tool.

Through his interviews, Jipson found that the homeless use social media not only to build support networks, but to solve practical issues such as where to find their next meal, where to find safe and warm places to sleep, and where to find various social services.


"Why can't I be on Facebook?," asked one subject in the study. "I have as much right to that as anyone else. Just because I am homeless does not mean that I don't care about this stuff, you know? My family is on Facebook. My friends are on Facebook. People who care about me are on Facebook."


But given the fact that plenty of research has emerged indicating that social media is literally making us crazy, we hope that the benefits outweigh the costs for homeless folks.

Image (cc) Flickr user Ed Yourdon