Panhandling has gone high tech.
The success of Kickstarter to get strangers to invest money over the Internet to help launch businesses or finance films has generated other sites that ask for outright donations for personal causes.
While many of the sites list pleas to seek help for everything from cancer treatment to covering funeral expenses, there are more and more folks using GoFundMe.com and other sites to simply beg for money to finance everything from a personal trip to Europe to securing $300 to attend a dance workshop.
One example is Vania Chan who is using GoFundMe in a bid to raise $3,000 to attend circus school in Seattle. In 10 days she’s gotten $600 toward her goal from complete strangers.
The process speaks volumes about the person doing the high tech begging.
If something is that important to them why don’t they pay for it themselves? If they lack the money, they can find ways to scrimp and save — that’s what people used to do — or else get another job. In some cases, it is an issue of getting a job.
It might surprise people but something actually means more if you earn it. Now that’s a novel thought — earning something instead of begging for money so you can do it.
Various media interviews with people who post requests for things such as a trip to Italy or paying college sorority dues reveal some interesting insights.
They say they can’t afford to fulfill their “dream” without financial help. And they are almost always in their 20s.
This may come as a shock, but most people can’t afford to live their dreams in their 20s.
There are little details like building a financial foundation to be able to eat, dress, have shelter, and cover your cell bill that you need to take care of first.
There was a time if you wanted to go to Italy when you were in your 20s you did one of two things: You either persevered and saved money to do it, or you figured a way to literally work your way to Italy and pay for your room and board once there. Of course, that scenario doesn’t include first-class tickets or staying in fancy hotels paid for with the help of someone else’s dime.
Delayed gratification is a foreign concept to folks who believe they deserve something so much that it is proper to ask complete strangers for money in order to do it.
What that says about people that blindly give to such a plea for money is interesting in itself. GoFundMe requests to help pay for a dog’s cancer treatment might pull the heart strings of another dog lover who went through the same thing with their four-legged friend. Someone who gives to a stranger’s dance lessons fund might be someone who wants to spread the love of dance.
But at the end of the day, they have no idea whether they are being scammed. And even if the money goes for a trip to Italy, does that person really need financial help to get there? Could they have saved up the money by denying themselves over the course of a year weekly trips to the movies, dropping cable TV, and packing lunches instead of eating out?
But then why should they cut back on other spending just so they won’t be denied a trip to Italy? Delayed gratification is for chumps.
Then there are those who ask closed social media groups of friends to fund personal endeavors such as a trip to Europe.
That is what a lady profiled by the Wall Street Journal did. She emailed 75 friends in her social network asking for help in raising $5,000 for the trip.
She ended up getting the money but she was “stunned” to get the silent treatment from some of her friends.
“Some people I thought I was close to never mentioned the trip at all,” Deborah Behrens told the Wall Street Journal.
Really? Acquaintances you have over the Internet have a problem with you shaking them down for money for what is essentially a vacation you want to take to “find yourself”? The audacity of some people.
Ann Landers were she alive would have dropped the coffee cup in her lap on that one.
An arrogant selfish request justifies the silent treatment.
In fact, it screams to “un-friend” the shake down artist.
There is a reason the Greatest Generation survived the Great Depression and then saved the world from the Axis Powers. They didn’t think the world revolved around them.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.