When I was growing up my dad would sometime tell me stories about the war, about Russia invading Finland and how his family had to flee for their lives in the middle of the night. The darkness was broken up by bombs exploding over his home town in the heart of winter, the snow piled high. On a horse drawn sleigh, my grandmother and her children were leaving everything and everyone they knew and loved behind, taking only what they could carry. My dad’s job was to look after the wireless, their only connection to what was happening in the war. On one of the many bumps along the way the wireless fell off the sleigh and rolled down a snowy bank. My dad ran after it, knowing how important it was. His mother was on the sleigh yelling at him to forget about it, climb back on, there was no time. But he got the wireless and dragged its hulking form (because this is back in the old days) back onto the sleigh.
That was a defining moment for my dad. It created the man. And, as his daughter, it was a legacy that went on to define me.
I come from a long tradition of men and women who took nothing for granted, who worked hard for a living and were grateful for camping trips and clean sheets day. I am from a family of self-starters, of battlers, of people who used their wits and learned useful skills to get ahead. We never took hand-outs and we never asked for them. My mother would call that ‘begging’.
I grew up wearing dresses lovingly and beautifully hand-sewn by my mother – she was so good at it that people across Canberra started asking for her designs and a label was born. By the time I was a teenager I truly understood the phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’.
We were thrifty, knowing a good day could turn into a slow month. We picked blackberries in summer and bottled them for winter. We grew plum trees and made jam. We had a lemon tree and my brother and I would hock those lemons all around the neighbourhood (as kids do for small change and fun). When times were tough we dug deep and pulled the strings tight on our purse. And while we were never flush with money, we were certainly content. Despite the hard times, the challenges, we survived, we got through, we continued and ultimately, thrived.
So pardon me if I find myself slightly outraged of late by all the requests from people to finance their lives on Go Fund Me, and embarrassed for this current generation who appear defined by a sense of ‘entitlement’. How did we let this happen?
I know that Go Fund Me has positive applications (check out this guy who is building houses for homeless), but for every honest, legitimate and thoughtful use there seems to be 20 people asking for nothing more than a hand-out.
I’m concerned that we are doing a great disservice, particularly to our younger generation (read ‘anyone under 40’), when we fund people who want to take an easy path rather than earn their success. We deny them the opportunity to experience realistic life struggles that build the character and resilience that will help them navigate the much harder hurdles that life will potentially put in their path.
I am a great advocate of contributing, volunteering and effecting change. And I love the role the internet can play in all this. But, and call me a cynic, in my view Go Fund Me has become a vehicle for the entitled and the scammers. I’m certain there are people with good intentions in the mix, but to them I would say – before you thrown your money at a Go Fund Me campaign, find out whether there is already a mechanism for effecting this change. If the answer is ‘yes’, then Go Fund Me is ‘no’. Indeed I would argue that Go Fund Me has the potential to dilute the effectiveness and reach of long-standing, legitimate programs.
Nepal is a great example of this. Since the devastating earthquake, more than 13,000 Go Fund Me accounts have been opened in the name of funding recovery in Nepal. And because there are people out there with huge hearts, the money is pouring in. But when I hand over my money, and I do, I want to know that it is going to a reputable agency / charity / not-for-profit that has an established system for getting the aid where it is needed most, as quickly as possible. I want to know that it won’t be squandered through a lack of connections on the ground or a lack of oversight, and I want to know that there are ongoing, long-term support mechanisms in place. What happened in Nepal isn’t a few news cycles – it’s years of recovery, taking careful planning.
In the meantime, just to be clear, here are some of the things I won’t be funding (all real). So please… Stop Asking:
- I will not fund your new wardrobe so that you can become a fashion blogger.
- I will not fund your ‘unexpected’ pet bills. Pets cost money – if you cant afford to keep a pet, don’t.
- I will not fund the maintenance on your car. Read my advice on pets.
- I will not fund your soccer tuition so that you can take a gap year and improve your skills in Italy.
- I will not fund your baby shower. Seriously?!
- I will not fund your wedding. Weddings are luxuries, not necessities.
- I will not fund your legal defence because you got arrested protesting. Good on you for taking a stand on whatever, but not my responsibility to bail you out.
- I will not fund your ink tattoo licence and insurance. Ink that somewhere sunny.
- I will not fund your cosplay event.
- I will not fund you to open a cafe. Write a business plan, go to the bank, find a (silent) business partner – do what everyone else has to do.
I’m sure some of you are outraged by this – yeah, me too. So my final note:
I will not fund your sense of entitlement. Trust me, you will thank me later xx