Tuesday, August 2, 2016

'Social Media Charity' Has Eroded The Nobleness Of Selfless Help

The reason why social media charity is problem. Many people on social media have pointed out how these days people just can't do a good thing without having to document it for the world to see. Which then raises the question of the motivation behind the good deed. Are you doing it to get attention or do you genuinely care about the cause... 

I have been following an interesting story coming out of the US recently. The story as reported in various media outlets goes;

Fred Barley, the college student reportedly said he rode his bike 80 kilometres and slept in a tent in order to register for college. After his story went viral, a woman named Casey Blaney (pictured with Fred above) started a GoFundMe campaign on his behalf and it earned a whopping R2.5 million ($184 000).

The GoFundMe campaign received some 5,700 donations over 12 days. Casey Blaney posted Facebook messages and even videos of a thankful Fred Barley.

Soon after achieving that milestone through the generosity of people touched by Fred's story, Casey claimed  “multiple questions about Fred’s story” have been raised and the money has been frozen while GoFundMe investigates Fred’s story.

But days ago, the bond between them strained when Fred, who is 19-year-old, posted a message on Facebook saying he objected to Casey's plans to place the money in a trust. He indicated that he would only place the money in a trust if he could choose the attorney and the trustee.

To put that in perspective; Casey wanted to put the money in a trust that she would control on behalf of Fred. Obviously, Fred had a problem with that since he is old enough to handle his finances and choose his own representatives.  It is curious then that after that little situation, all of the sudden Casey claimed that questions have been raised about Fred's story and the money was frozen. 



No word on what those questions were and who raised them but GoFundMe has since verified Fred's story and released the money to a trust that will be controlled by the college student with a lawyer and trustee of his choice. He is an adult afterall. 

Following the story I had some worrying thoughts about this Casey woman. While her decision to help Fred by starting the crowdfunding campaign was noble and commendable, watching the videos and her posts surrounding this story, it became clear that this was also about her. 

How is it that when Fred wanted to be in charge of money raised for him, suddenly Casey claims his story has problems? 

My take is that Casey enjoyed the attention a little too much and wanted to keep riding on Fred's lifestory for her own benefit. Some people on blogs have accused her of trying to steal the money but I don't think this is about the money. I think it is the problem with social media and people wanting to be validated for doing good. I think she just enjoyed the spotlight and wanted to keep having it. 

Let's face it; once Fred has the money, Casey's participation in this story is basically over. By having control over the trust, she would continue to have face and name attached to Fred. 

Casey is not a bad person. What she did for Fred was an amazing thing. She unfortunately became victim of the same vanity we all seem to be prone to these days of wanting our good deeds to be validated by social media.

SIDEBAR: There is a difference between taking pictures at a charity event and taking a selfie with a beggar you just gave food to. Pictures taking in situations such as Mandela Day actually have a positive effect. Such pictures help promote the campaign. Though some may argue that they too promote the same 'social media charity' phenomenon. 


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