Sunday, July 3, 2016

A rant on crowdfunding and annoying fake people...

This morning, as my eyes were cracking open for the first time today, I noticed an email from my nephew.  A couple of weeks ago, he sent around a generic email asking friends and family to donate money so he can live in Africa for seven months.  My nephew just graduated high school and, I guess, is doing a gap year before he heads to college.  His mother and I were both Peace Corps Volunteers and my sister still works in international public health.  She travels around the world to developing countries and has taken my niece and my nephew on trips with her.  So I guess one of them got bitten by the "bug", as it were.

Now, I didn't mind donating to my nephew's cause, although it would have been nice if he'd taken a more personal approach to requesting help rather than sending me a generic email.  But I understand that crowdfunding is how things get done nowadays.  I think it's a little sad that all people have to do to get funding nowadays is put up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter page.

But I will admit that giving makes me feel noble...

I gave the lad $100 and wished him luck.  Today, he sent me a rather impersonal email expressing thanks.  Fabu.  This isn't the first time my nephew has asked me for money, by the way, but at least this time he's doing it himself instead of having my sister do it for him.  Knowing how my sister and I were raised, I was kind of surprised she didn't always insist that he do the work himself.  Since my nephew was spearheading the effort, I decided to chip in for his trip.

I was curious to see how much money he's raised so far, so I went to his donation page.  I noticed several of my sister's friends donated, as well as one of my sisters.  I also saw that two cousins (adult children of my first cousin) each donated.  One of them wrote a reasonable comment.  The other, his sister, wrote a puke inducing over the top comment that immediately irritated me.  

"Oh, sweet young man! How I love thee! This is such a great idea, and I'm so proud of you. Proud to call you family. Can't wait to see pictures and hear all about your experiences, sweetness."

This person is the same relative who, two years ago, was organizing Thanksgiving at my family's "homestead" and sent me a generic invitation to the shindig from "the grandchildren".  Newsflash, I AM one of the grandchildren!

Why would you invite one of the grandchildren to a party thrown by the grandchildren?  It just shows a lack of situational awareness or consideration.  To be honest, it actually kind of hurt my feelings, especially since I was going to be flying thousands of miles to go home and honor my father.  That invitation was the height of thoughtlessness and made me feel like I wasn't a part of the family.  I didn't send her a response, but in retrospect, maybe I should have explained how that faux pas came across to me.  On the other hand, I doubt she would have cared.  Or she would have apologized and then talked smack about me to my other relatives.

Now, as for the comment she left for my nephew, if I thought this relative actually meant all of the sugary gooeyness expressed in her words, maybe her comment wouldn't annoy me so much.  But this is the same person who invited me to a party thrown by a group I'm already a part of.  She is all sweetness, but her actions don't match what she says.  So it comes across as obsequious and fake.  I guess that kind of makes her a sycophant, which is not a type of person I admire much.  I would much rather be around someone who's abrasive and overly blunt than someone who kisses ass and spreads sweet smelling bullshit.  Good on her for donating money, but what the hell is up with all the fawning?  Just wish him luck and get on with life, for God's sake.

I saw another crowdfunding page shared by one of my Facebook friends.  She was happy because her son wants to buy a new computer for his sister's birthday.  He's set up a GoFundMe page asking people to donate to his $600 goal.  I think it's sweet that he's thinking of his sister and wants to give her a generous present.  It would be much sweeter, in my opinion, if he worked for the money to buy the computer rather than asking strangers to donate money.  Of course, working for the $600 would be more time consuming and painful.  It's easier to set up a crowdfunding page and be done with it, right?  I don't know how successful his crowdfunding efforts will be, though his mother does seem to be proud.  I wonder if it's dawned on her that if he buys the computer from GoFundMe donations, the present is really coming from the Internet and not her son.

I hate active fundraising, so I can see why crowdfunding is popular.  I don't mind donating to causes I think are worthwhile.  I have donated to people who were down on their luck, people who were raising money to pay medical or vet bills, people who were raising money for certain worthy causes, and of course, relatives who want to spend a few months in Africa.  Computers are important, but I think if I were the mother of the young man trying to crowdfund a birthday present for his sister, I'd explain to him that gifts mean more when they come from the heart.  It's easy to hit up anonymous people on Facebook for money.  It's much more challenging to work for the money and then spend that hard earned cash on a gift for someone other than something for yourself.  That $600 from Internet friends is, perhaps, not as precious as it is when you've sweated to earn it through hard labor.

Anyway, it's my choice to donate or not donate.  I won't be donating to that particular cause because I think it would send an inappropriate message.  And every year, as I watch my relatives from afar, I am reminded more and more why Bill is really my family and many of the others are just people I happen to be related to.

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