Making Fun of the Homeless: There’s an App for That

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Cardboard

I get quite a few approaches every day about new (or not so new) iPad apps. Some are great, some are terrible, and some just leave me asking why anyone would ever create this app. Cardboard is definitely in the Why? category.

It’s full app name is Cardboard: The Original Hobo Sign. What bothers me about the app is that all of the promotion I’ve seen for it so far – in the email approach I got and on its App Store page – seems to be aimed at making fun of (or at the very least making light of) homeless people. Here’s a few examples:

— The promo artwork for it shown above, with the strapline ‘For The Tech Savvy Homeless’.

— This lovely line from its App Store page:

Cardboard lets you write and display funny hobo signs — whenever you have something really important to say and you ran out of actual cardboard.

— And then there are lines like these from the app’s ‘library of funny phrases’

Need cash for alcohol research

Will take verbal abuse for a dollar

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the tone of all of this has a nasty, mocking feeling to it. I don’t find homeless people funny, and I really find this app to be in very poor taste. There’s even a rating comment for the app that hails it as a great app for kids. Jeez. I know I would not want my daughter to even see this app – much less think it’s great to have an app based around making fun of less fortunate people.


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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8 thoughts on “Making Fun of the Homeless: There’s an App for That”

  1. Well said. It’s easy for some people to forget that the price of an iPad could feed someone quite well for a month.

  2. Patrick – I really enjoy your posts; I look forward to them each day. Thank you for all the info & great insight. This app also made me quite angry plus saddened that so many would put down the homeless in such a way! If this is how some people use their time and talent, then they need to get a life! Homelessness is one of our society’s many neglected issues. These poor people suffer from mental sickness as well as other diseases. If anything they need help and compassion. This app should be trashed!

  3. Homelessness is hardly neglected. There are soup kitchens in every town and plenty of food and always a warm, dry place to sleep if needed. A lot of homeless people chose to be homeless, chose to drink excessively and do drugs. The economy stinks for a large portion of people right now, but there will always be poor people and always be homeless people. If it makes you uncomfortable, don’t buy it and don’t laugh, but there is nothing wrong with making light of anything. Life is too hard, too serious and laughter is always good medicine. Lighten up, folks.

    1. Where do you live? I want to live where all the homeless are fed and housed! Sounds awesome! Is it near earth? Cuz in the city I live, homeless people really don’t have food or shelter and services are getting slashed despite that. Where I live, there are not “a lot” of people choosing to live in the subway tunnels.

      This is a nonsense app for privileged douchcakes who have never had to worry about how they were going to get food into their face the next day. It’s senseless.

  4. Well-said. This app is in incredibly poor taste. I guess they are looking for negative publicity?

    I was interested in seeing how you’d respond as these apps are emails from you and I enjoy all of them so far.

    Very glad you find this just untasteful.

    Greg, daily reader

  5. Thanks for calling this out. It really isn’t the right way to go, and you deserve applause for standing up and saying so rather than taking the easy route of letting it go by.

  6. I think its just you bring over sensitive. All this app does is allow the user to write a witty message on a cardboard background. That’s it. It’s hardly mocking the homeless. Yes some of the supplied messages aren’t great but Im assuming they are meant as humour rather than anything malicious.

  7. Thank you. That app really does seem to be in poor taste. The lives of the homeless are hard enough without being mocked by those who own what is really just a cool and expensive toy.

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