Monday, November 9, 2015

GoFundMe Gone Wild

As someone with the keen observational skills of Mr. Magoo, it took me a long time to notice a problem social-media acquaintances had been talking about for months.

“I woke up to four new people today asking me for money on four different donation platforms,” one friend said. “One was my ex-babysitter announcing her wedding and where I could send cash. No invitation to the wedding. Just cash.”

“I’m a believer in giving to real charities: medical research, school drives, the Red Cross, etc.,” said Heidi Knodle, owner of a picture framing store in San Francisco. “I’m tired of people asking for a vacation, funds for a wedding or their college tuition.”

The crime writer Mark Ebner, whose mailboxes have been increasingly filled with monetary requests, has a theory about it all. “I think online begging has become the new economy.”

I thought my friends were exaggerating. After all, a visit to GoFundMe or YouCaring yields site after site of worthy donation recipients. People whose homes were wiped out by natural disasters. People with diseases I’d never heard of, with no insurance and staggering medical expenses. Kids trying to pay for their parents’ funerals. Parents with seriously ill children wanting a trip to Disney World, and sick animals owned by people who couldn’t afford the vet bills.

One man had set up a fund for a friend who needed to take a couple of months off while his wife died of brain cancer.

But then, there were others. Many, many others. Education funds are great, but do I really want to pay for a friend to travel to Peru to become a shaman?

Should the woman who has lost a lot of weight (good for you!) ask her friends to pay for $2,500 worth of laser skin tightening? What about the girl seeking $600 for her “personal development journey”? (Not much to ask, but she was so beautiful, I didn’t understand why she didn’t develop herself into a model and make a whole lot more than that.)

Another woman was asking for help with the legal bills for her divorce, as her new husband had bolted to Israel. She was a little dramatic in her plea: “My life — the innocent, carefree life which I had known, and the blissful happy life of hopes and dreams shattered overnight. Instead of partaking of gourmet meals and donning my kalla/bridal trousseau, chaos and turmoil, sprinkled with vicious gossip became my daily food and clothing.”

The requests continued.

by Judith Newman, NY Times |  Read more:
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