Over the past year I’ve felt increasingly overwhelmed by the number of crowdsourcing requests I receive. Obviously this is mostly because crowdsourcing is fairly new. Secondly, as a member of “the Burning Man Community,” I know hundreds of people doing amazing things, all of which cost money. Even outside the burner world, everyone I know is doing something interesting. Something worth supporting. But at what point does it become too much?
Today I’ve come across the following folks in search of a “donation”:
“Head Above Water” is a cute couple who both lost their jobs over the past year. Their car broke down. They’re currently at $3,990 of their $3,500 goal. Hmm. For $5 the woman will give me a shout-out on her blog. For $25 she’ll send me a handmade thank-you card. She mentions feeling “guilty” about asking for money. You, too, can help them pay their rent by donating money to their Indiegogo campaign. Cause, ya know, everyone loves a shout out. I don’t know these people.
The link to Mr. & Ms. Head Above Water was provided by a friend who recently quit her job as a sex worker to write full time. I’ll admit to meeting her online (through this blog, actually) and offering her advice about becoming a sex worker. She’s a great writer and was recently laid off from one of her (low-paying) writing jobs, as was Ms. Head Above Water. Imagine my surprise when, moments after losing my temper over the cute Santa Clara couple with the rusted out car, I saw her post “I’m reluctant to do this” and offer a link to her Patreon.com page. This site is different from the usual fundraising crowdsourcing sites in that it asks you to essentially become a patron of the arts. Or, er, blogging. Since she’s a writer, we are asked to pledge a certain amount for each blog post. Her ideal goal is to create her own online publication. Her and about a gagillion other bloggers.
[I could easily fall into the dark abyss of why it is that writers need to beg like this, but that would be a digression. Writers are no longer able to earn a living, a fact that I am INCREDIBLY and PAINFULLY aware of! Time to find a new career, folks!]
While I don’t want to ridicule her, I do find it amusing that she notes in her bio “I fell into the sex industry…in 2011, and have been writing about it ever since.” Ever since? Ever since THREE FUCKING YEARS AGO? Again, forgive me. Sorry, sorry. I really should try harder to keep my temper in check…
[I could also slide into the depths of depression writing about what it’s like looking for work when you’re over 50. The aforementioned talented writer is barely 30. I might also mention that I watched a far-from-uplifting documentary today on PBS called Over 50 and Out of Work. So you can see why perhaps today wasn’t the best day for people to come to me with their hands out. Especially people who weren’t even born when I graduated from college.]
The third “charity case” that scrolled by my feed today was a “hurry and donate now” plea. A very talented guy is trying to launch his own design company. It’s an expensive venture and he lays out exactly what the costs will be. One friend who backed the Kickstarter campaign posted “This man is a creative visionary who risked it all to follow his vision.” Risked it all? He lost his job. What has he risked? If he hits his goal, he’ll be set up to start his own business on the backs of all his friends. He hasn’t risked anything at all. Reaching his $25,000 goal doesn’t look good; he has about 24 hours left to close a $15,000 gap. If he’d asked for $10,000 — still an impressive sum — he’d have his cash. Or if he’d gone with Indiegogo instead, he’d get whatever amount people could afford to give. As it is, he may receive nothing, since Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” funding platform.
Over the past year I’ve donated money to people’s charity bike rides, helped fund playa-bound art projects, supported live-work spaces and attended fundraising parties for numerous Burning Man camps. However, I’ve passed over hundreds of crowdsourcing campaigns asking me to fund everything from pet care to funeral costs. I find it all appalling.
I get it. The economy is crap. One percent of the population controls 98% of the wealth. Or whatever. The bottom line is: people are broke. I’m broke! So how is it that anyone has the money to support these people? I’ve joked that if everyone just took a $20 out of their pockets and passed it to the person next to them, we could all feel as though we’d successfully participated in crowdsourcing money for each other.
One of the most irksome fundraising campaigns I’ve ever been invited to “donate” to was for an established commercial business. They’ve had a successful brick-and-mortar store for over 20 years and often vend at festivals. In this instance they were looking to construct, decorate, accessorize and stock a “photo booth” for an event, much like those old-timey sepia photos where you dress up like a cowboy or a saloon girl. So I was supposed to give them money so they could charge me $35 to get my photo taken in the booth I had helped them create? And then spend another $300 for one of their garments? Galling!
I guess what it really boils down to is this: I would love to have people pay me for every blog post I make. Believe me, I’d be blogging every day! I’d also love 1000 of my closest friends to kick in $25 each so I could spend the next year creating a business instead of stressing out about money 24 hours a fucking day. I’d love to start my own online publication. Open my own store. Or a bar! I’d love everyone I know to support me in realizing my dreams. But there is no way I would ever ask. It is my responsibility to take care of myself. To realize — and fund — my own dreams. And I kinda can’t believe other people don’t feel the same way.
So. Am I just a cranky old cunt? No. Wait. We’ve already established that I am, indeed, a cranky old cunt. But am I also a dream crusher? Am I raining on these peoples’ parades? Pooh-poohing their dreams and aspirations? Is it a question of “It doesn’t hurt to ask”? I don’t know. Seriously. Am I the only person who finds this stuff offensive?