When I was a kid, my dad taught me a valuable lesson. I asked him for $10 to buy a graphic novel I really wanted.
“Earn it,” he said.
“How?” I replied.
“Figure it out.”
And I did. I set up a lemonade stand at the end of the block and made the $10 in a day. At the end of the day, I was prouder of myself than I had ever been. “You‘re smart,” he said. “You’re healthy and you‘re capable. In this country, that means that you should be able to do anything you need to take care of yourself. There’s always a way.”
Even at our lowest points, amidst economic hardships, layoffs and mounting bills, Pop always found a way. He taught me the value of the ability to hustle. Make a buck when you need to. In my life, that’s translated into a varied skill set thanks to temp jobs, and even driving a cab for a while when times were tough. I’ve never been on public assistance, and when I’ve borrowed money, I‘ve also paid it back. With interest.
This is why I hate gofundme.com.
On its face, it seems like a great option to find funding for a project, much like kickstarter.com. Except, unlike kickstarter, you don’t actually have to do anything. You don’t have to make anything. You can literally set up a gofundme account for people to “donate” money so you can go on vacation. Or buy some candy. Or whatever.
I don‘t know quite how we ended up here. There’s no shame in this game. It’s the worst of the worst of the stereotype of the entitled generation. Instead of finding yourself saddled with an obstacle to face and overcome, now people turn to crowdsourced charity—even when the recipient is less than charitable.
This isn’t to say there aren’t worthy causes out there. In fact, you could argue the majority of causes on gofundme probably are worthy—people who need live-saving operations, or are dying of cancer, or who lost everything in a fire or want to rescue some wetlands or something.
Go there and just search for yourself. You’ll see things like a beauty queen who wants you to give her money for her next pageant. A couple who wants people to contribute to their down payment for their first house. Some guy whose Mitsubishi VR4 is broken down and wants you to pay for the repairs because it’s his “dream car.“ Some girl who wants to study in Paris. People who had stuff stolen—a car here, a purse there—and want their valuable baubles replaced.
Listen, I get that life is filled with disappointment, struggle and pain. Sometimes, you’ve just exhausted every possible avenue, and you have no safety net and no way to help yourself. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes, the grace of the kindness of strangers really does mean all the difference between struggle and complete tragedy.
But doing it this way? I mean… it‘s basically just shameless Internet panhandling. Isn’t it?