Late last night, a curious e-mail landed in the BroBible inbox:
Hey brobible My friend and I are crowdfunding a trip for him to travel cross country to LA for a week of partying.
It contained a link to a GoFundMe campaign for “Devin And Luke’s Outrageous Adventure.” In their own words:
Since 1997, brought together by our love for Power Rangers, Luke and I (Devin) have been bestfriends adventuring across continents seeking thrills. Now as another year of college looms near we will once again be planted on opposite ends of the country we will NEED your help to bring us together for one more ultimate adventure!
We need YOU to help us fly me to the West Coast and distract Luke from his quest to become an actor in LA. He’s currently working on a screen play for what could be ‘ Spy Kids 5: Spy Me Once, Shame On You’ and can’t afford the ticket back East.
Why is this so important? We have a mission. To make the world’s best pizza, surf California, and find the women of our dreams in one week! We’re not getting any younger!
We’ll also be doing our typical bestfriend stuff like going surfing, line dancing, arguing about trivial things in celebrity impressions, watching power rangers, and being the life of parties.
We promise if you help us fun this airfare and make this a trip we’ll never forget you will be graciously rewarded with tokens of our friendship, parts from our coauthored memoior in progress, and perhaps even a night out on the town with us boys!
Hoping to go Mid August! Thanks everyone!
So what do you get for helping these Bros out? The schmaltzy perks for you funding their trip to Los Angeles include pizza delivery to your house, a Skype session, an excerpt from their forthcoming memoir, and “a video of Luke and I acting out our favorite Tom Hanks movie scenes.”
Devin and Luke seem like nice, well-meaning guys. But I haven’t a clue why random strangers on the Internet would dump their hard-earned cash just so they can go roadtripping and goof-around together. Why do they deserve the financial support of strangers?
Isn’t that something earned?
Couldn’t they just save up $500 collectively for a trip by working without asking for the Internet’s attention?
Do people work to do the things they want to do anymore?
Or is that too old-fashion?
I have a problem with crowdfunding just for the sake of crowdfunding. The Internet has run amok with crowdfunding campaigns attempting to be absurd phenomena these days, with the most notorious example to date being the Kickstarter campaign that raised $50,000 just to make a bunch of potato salad. It’s not because I hate fun or just how silly-awesome and circle-jerky the Internet can be, but because I think it’s teaching an entire generation that they can simply get what they want by asking strangers for it, rather than working to achieve a goal.
The way a current generation abuses crowdfunding to finance a good-time fuels an unrealistic expectation of how someone should be treated by strangers. Quite simply, no one owes you anything.
A dream trip to party with your childhood best friend is a goal that you work for, not ask for. Wash dishes. Bus tables. Landscape someone’s yard. Put 30% of your earnings in a savings account until you have enough for airfare, food, and beer money, like mature adults do when they go on vacation.
Asking strangers to fund such a trip is Internet panhandling masked in good intention.
Gofundme is basically creating the 21st century version of panhandling for people who don’t want to get jobs and work.
— Brandon Wenerd (@brandonwenerd) July 24, 2014
We all have friends. What makes yours so damn special that strangers should fund a week of you two partying together? Why is your friendship a beautiful and unique snowflake and not the same decaying organic matter as everything else?
To be clear, I don’t have beef against crowdfunding. In fact, I think it’s a great way to help people for products and causes you genuinely believe in.
My problem is with the abuse of crowdfunding.
Two years ago, I donated $20 to Jake Villanueva’s campaign for a bucket list trip around the United States after his story about having terminal, stage IV kidney cancer went viral on Reddit. Jake wasn’t going to live to see his 24th birthday. It made me feel a whole spectrum of emotions: heart-break, gratitude for health, terrified for how fragile life is, and, ultimately, just generally pissed that cancer was going to take this bright young man’s life way too soon. I wanted to help. Ultimately, Internet strangers raised $30,000 for Jake. He was able to travel with his family to New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere before passing away in January 21, 2013.
The causes I’ve donated to haven’t exactly always been philanthropic, either. I’ve supported board-shorts brands struggling to get off the ground and artistic endeavors via Kickstarter. Earlier this year I personally supported a campaign to help three girls at the University of Dayton fix damages to their roof after sustaining $5,000 worth of damage from the school’s chaotic (…and awesome) March Madness celebrations. That sort of thing hit right in the sweet spot of an ethos we’re all about here at BroBible.
But it bothers me that a younger generation of digital natives, born and raised on a healthy diet of 24/7 social media, believe that they can get what they want by simply setting up a campaign and relying on the generosity of strangers.
My plea is that my fellow millennials please stop crowdfunding just for the sake of crowdfunding. There are tremendous causes and campaigns for wounded soldiers, cancer patients, and the truly-needy that deserve compassion, dollars, and public attention. These aren’t campaigns rooted in an individual’s best interest, but humanity’s best interest.
Devin, Luke, and the others who think crowdfunding is a means to getting what you want: If you’re able-bodied, working, sweating, and saving for that SoCal booze-bender will just make it all the sweeter when the two of you are together.
Otherwise, let’s call panhandling when you don’t need something exactly what it is: