EVERY FEW DAYS, I see a new crowdfunding request to contribute to a student's education or help out with medical expenses for a terminally ill patient.
Those I don't mind. But some of the others have me looking all side-eyed.
Go Fund Me?
Go F--- you!
Excuse my language, but it's getting out of control.
Take the case of Jameelah Kareem, 30, a procurement administrator who lives in Willingboro, N.J.
She's a hardworking young woman who writes steamy novels in her spare time and works part time as a bottle-service provider at Onyx, a strip club on Columbus Boulevard.
Lately, the 2007 Rutgers University grad has had a hankering to go to Las Vegas for the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. It's being billed as the "Fight of the Century. "
Even without tickets, I'm sure it'll be a good time. But since Kareem just bought a house and is low on cash, she posted a profile on GoFundMe.com on Feb. 27. Kareem made a point of including a beautiful photo of herself wearing a tight, low-cut dress and wrote: "I'm trying to go to Vegas fight weekend. I'm cute. I like free money. You donating or naw? Lol!"
I think she should stay her cute self home, but you can guess what happened next. Within several days of her posting, Kareem had exceeded her goal of raising $1,500, no doubt aided by the fans of rap superstar Meek Mill who posted her fundraising drive on his Instagram account on Monday. So now, it's Vegas or bust, baby.
Good for her, I guess. (Insert sarcasm.)
I, personally, would have been ashamed to do a GoFundMe for something like that. In the face of so much real need in the world, it's tacky to ask strangers for money just so you can hang out with your girlfriends.
"It's kind of a form of suburban panhandling," pointed out Sean Carney, 32, a Society Hill resident. "It's like saying, 'Can I please some have some cash?' "
Call us old-timey.
Now, it might be true that many with real legitimate needs turn to crowdfunding the way my Facebook friend Wayne "Fade" Mack has. He is soliciting funds on GiveForward.com because he has been completely incapacitated by Lou Gehrig's disease.
Before becoming paralyzed, Mack was a barber with a great reputation. Now that he's confined to a nursing facility and only able to move his eyes, he has nowhere else to turn for help. But campaigns often get overlooked, because they are competing with all kinds of foolishness that pop up on these sites. Remember last month's hoax posting about a group of girls supposedly trying to crowdfund their way to NBA All-Star weekend?
"I think the majority of us are going through varying stages of crowdfunding fatigue," says Rachel C. Weingarten, a marketing strategist/trend watcher. "It's put most of us in the odd and uncomfortable position of feeling like everyone's rich uncle. That said, it feels even more egregious when it's for something completely frivolous."
Kareem told me she had been inspired by an Ohio man, Zach "Danger" Brown, who did a fundraiser on Kickstarter to earn $10 to buy potato-salad fixings and wound up with well over $55,000.
"It kind of just started as a curiosity thing," Kareem told me on Tuesday. "Once it started to go viral, it kind of became real."
When I checked back yesterday, Kareem had exceeded her initial fundraising goal and raised it to $5,000, vowing to donate the rest to help a friend of hers with breast cancer. That crowdfunding effort didn't attract anywhere near the buzz that Kareem's did.
"Online I'm getting mixed comments but most of them are, like, if you can't afford it, don't go," Kareem said earlier this week.
(And no, I didn't write one, although I sympathize with the critics.)
So what does girlfriend make of all the online hateration spewing her way from Mill's Instagram followers and others?
"It's a voluntary donation," Kareem pointed out. "If you don't want to donate, don't. Somebody will."
She's right about that.