Thursday, April 23, 2015

Go Fund Ourselves

So this kid kisses a cottonmouth snake on the head and the snake bites the kid in the face. The story goes viral, because this kind of thing is always news. Plus, the kid's a shirtless hat-wearing rebel flag-waving version of Miley Cyrus with his tongue hanging out in every photo. So, he's easy to ridicule.

That gets boring quickly, though, so we had just a tiny peek at the comments after one of the versions of the story and saw this:  

"Don't tell me: someone's already made a GoFundMe for him."

Compassion fatigue.

Is it because of the kid who duped 7,000 donors into giving him $55,500 to make a potato salad?

The black woman asking for $135,000 to "buy some White Privilege"?  (330 people gave her $6,000 for it—enough to make a down payment, at least.)

Or because the son of a man beaten nearly to death went on a strip club bender that may or may not have been paid for by the 4,600 donors who raised $189,000 for his dad's medical expenses?

Or the 44,000 donors who gave $4 million so that Super Troopers 2 could become a film instead of a sad fantasy?

The beekeepers who asked for $70,000 on Kickstarter and ended up with $12 million instead? Their invention is very, very cool—and anything that helps bees and beekeepers is just fine with us. But after the $12 mil came in, they stopped taking orders?

The "Walking Man" from Detroit whose $25,000 campaign to buy a decent car netted him a free car (donated by a dealer) and $350,000 instead? Whereupon his girlfriend immediately tried to shake him down for "her share" of the money and became so threatening that he had to move out of the city?

Compassion fatigue doesn't create itself. It's created by crowdfunding stories that are weird, stupid, alarming, that create jealousy and judgment, that take on a "celebrity" status of their own and show up over and over and over and over in our newsfeeds.

But here's the thing: Steve Utash, the man beaten nearly to death after stopping to see if a kid he'd hit with his truck was okay, and had no insurance, and got nearly $200,000 to pay for his hospital bill, said this when he went back to work:

"Everything about what happened to me was worth it, to feel the love of mankind in its purist form."

We shouldn't hate the crowdfunding game; we should hate gullible funders. And not be one of them. But not let them make us so weary of crowdfunding that we miss the key part of what the Man Beaten Nearly to Death said: Everything about what happened to me was worth it.

Let the love rain down like dollars.

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