Go Fund Me (Or Don’t)

A Facebook friend posed the following question to her friends and followers:

What do all of my friends, relatives, and others think about people who use those go fund me accounts and post them on FaceBook? Also, is there ever a good reason to pan handle to your friends and family? I mean, are there reasons that are less offensive than others like say, gas money versus medicine for a kid? Or, money to make trips?

She prefaced the question with the assurance that her question wasn’t directed at anyone she personally knew who used the GoFundMe site, and I tried to read her original post, friends’ comments, and follow-up comments with an open mind. Reactions from her friends ranged from it not bothering them at all, to it bothering them for unnecessary things like weddings and vacations, or it bothering them completely since they/someone they knew had to struggle through on their own. I read quite a few you’ve made your bed type arguments.

I started to type a replay, but as I typed my reply got longer and a tad bit more rant and vent type prose than I thought would be appropriate for the venue. While I have certainly participated in heated Facebook debates in the past, it’s usually never a good idea.

If you’ve ever studied rhetoric and writing, you’ll remember Aristotle’s appeals: pathos, ethos, and logos. As a writing professor, I always told my students to argue from a position of logos (logic or credibility); however, some arguments are written from a position of ethos (ethics), and others are written from a position of pathos (emotion).

In my rough draft reply to my friend’s post, I probably argued from pathos more than anything. It also was potentially long enough for people to simply tl;dr the whole thing. Below, I have pasted the entirety of what I started to comment. Readers, please examine this bit of prose for which of Aristotle’s appeals I am using throughout. It is possible that I use more than the one I mentioned using.

I have a GoFundMe account. I initially created it at a friend’s suggestion when I was trying to leave what turned out to be a bad situation living with family and return to an area where I thought I had many friends who had offered to help. I hate asking for help. I hate putting my “dirty laundry” out there for people to judge me, but sometimes I need to vent and it’s good to have people from various backgrounds offer advice and insight, as well as morale support and commiseration, even if I don’t agree with what was said to me. I am fully aware of all of the terrible and wonderful decisions I have made in my life, but when I swallow my pride and ask for help, it is usually for things that affect my children. On my GoFundMe, when I do updates it is usually just me saying what is going on–updating the people who are interested. Sometimes I directly ask for help with a specific thing, but other times I just say certain things are going on and it’s up to people reading it to offer to help or tell me how much of a pathetic loser and terrible mother I am or ignore me or whatever it is in their mind to do. I don’t feel entitled to help from anyone, and I’m always grateful and appreciative to anything offered. I grew up poor. I didn’t want that for my children, but I did marry the wrong person and wasted a decade of my life in that situation, during which time my credit was shot, but also during which time I managed to successfully complete an AA, a BA, and an MA. I’m not in a position to be able to be as active in academia as some suggest I should in order to land a full-time gig, and I probably couldn’t work on a PhD with children as young as mine are and no support, so I have been putting applications in at not only colleges for adjunct work, but also substitute teaching, retail, food service, and just about any other field that has openings I don’t need additional training to qualify for. Still, childcare is a big issue for me, which is why that amazing part-time, minimum wage McDonald’s job I had a couple of months ago didn’t work out. What I want is a full-time job that pays well enough that I don’t need SNAP and Medicaid, and don’t feel so hard-up that I’m panhandling online. I want to be able to support my family and provide them with adequate, safe, reliable childcare while I work, without applying for public assistance and being looked down upon for needing help. When I am not struggling, I absolutely donate money and time to others. I have given a carhop all of my change for a $20 when all I bought was a drink. I have filled up friends’ gas tanks completely when they only asked for $5 or $10 or didn’t even ask at all. I have bought food for people I barely knew or didn’t know at all or for close friends or family. I feel like I am part of a village, and that I should help the members of that village when they are in need. I don’t get angry with them if they ask me for gas money and then light up a cigarette, because I don’t know their struggle. I don’t get angry at the single mom in Kroger with five kids an an iPhone paying for groceries with SNAP, because I don’t know her struggle. I have this weird thing where I don’t think it’s any of my business what others do with their money, even if I gave it to them. When I give money, it’s always a gift, never a loan. Expecting it back adds undue strain to a relationship. Feeling entitled to know how the money is spent adds undue strain to the relationship.

What was the main point of my argument? How well or poorly did I structure the argument? Will my approach influence or off-put my intended audience? These are just a few of the questions a writer should ask herself in the revision phase. They are also good questions for readers to ask of a piece of writing being reviewed (with the pronouns adjusted accordingly, of course).

In the end, I decided that the time it would take me to turn what I had said into an adequate argumentative essay on the subject would be more trouble than a Facebook comment was worth, and wholly unnecessary given the ebb and flow of internet political interest. Chances are, my carefully worded response would not have changed the minds of anyone, and those who would have judged me without it would still have done so with it.

I decided the best and shortest answer I could give her if any at all would be:

No, it does not bother me when people use GoFundMe or any other crowd-funding method to obtain money for any reason, because if it is not something I’m interested in or able to be funding I simply will ignore the link and move on, but if it is a cause I personally agree with I may take the time to share it for others’ benefit.

And that, of course, is what I ended up posting on her status, after writing this blog entry for my own benefit. If you are bothered by crowd-funding, let me know in the comments. If you are indifferent to crowd-funding, I’m indifferent to whether you let me know in the comments. 😉 If you are not bothered by crowd-funding, check out my own account there and let me know whether or not you deem me worthy of your donations or shares.

Beatles–Out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent, all the money’s gone, nowhere to go.

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