It’s tough to pass any light pole or street sign in Seattle these days without noticing that many of them have been sprayed or scribbled or stickered with one message or another. And as the ever-growing city grapples with assorted pains, a lot of the messages target tech.
Ratul Mahajan is no different than any of us who have taken notice, and perhaps snapped a quick picture. This past summer, GeekWire spotted anti-Amazon sentiment as it seemed to reach peak proportions around town.
On Wednesday, Mahajan shared his own photos in a post on Twitter.
One sticker referenced Amazon’s Spheres office space (and CEO Jeff Bezos’s anatomy), and another simply called for tech bros to “go home,” wherever that is. Both stickers were scrawled with rebuttal messages: the first said “Go Bezos!” and the second said, “Quit being poor.”
Seattle's complicated relationship with big tech summed up in two pieces of street art on the same block. pic.twitter.com/8jIBLyYgtZ
— Ratul Mahajan (@ratulm) April 17, 2019
As the co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based software development startup Intentionet, and as a faculty member at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, we were particularly interested in Mahajan’s take on Seattle’s version of graffiti. And how it illustrated Seattle’s “complicated relationship with big tech,” as he tweeted.
Mahajan saw the stickers on Madison Street near Boren Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, a hotbed for all sorts of graffiti, much of it these days directed at tech and techies that are blamed for reshaping the character and affordability of the place.
“I’ve been noticing them more, but that could just be because I noticed the first one and now I see more,” Mahajan said. “You know, availability bias and confirmation bias.”
He said people love to and are free to express themselves, and while he called the humor in the Bezos sticker “endearing,” Mahajan said that his opinion of the “quit being poor” scribble is that it’s cruel.
“However, both that message and the original one are ridiculous,” he said. “‘Tech bros’ are not going home, and no one is poor by choice.”