On the Rampage: Friend Charity
There you are minding your own business – watching some TV, maybe reading a book if you’re posh. And an email arrives. Or worse, you’re invited to join a Facebook Event:
Nigel’s Hot Air Balloon Ride for Criminally Insane Children.
Your mate Nigel, at it again. But just what is ‘at it’? Is this a scenario in which Nigel is giving up a few days of his life to bring criminally insane children on a reformative hot air balloon ride? Is it a trust exercise in which your mate Nigel, bastion of virtue, forms a unique bond with some n’er do well young ‘uns, takes them under his wing, shows them the possibility in life, and helps correct their wayward path?
Of course not.
Nigel does not give a flying fuck about criminally insane children. Were we to explore further we’d probably learn that Nigel also doesn’t care about sick animals, homeless war veterans, thalidomide babies or abused women. And he invented cancer. Nigel is best known for being an obnoxious drunk and referring to buns as ‘cupcakes’ ever since he got that uppity new girlfriend. Truth be told though, he’s your friend and you like him. None of his questionable qualities make him any worse than you or anyone else. Nobody has a decent social conscience nowadays anyway.
What gets to you is the opportunism. And everyone’s at it.
Trend of the moment is people involving themselves with some some token charitable effort that allows them to experience some fun buzz that they’ve always wanted to try out while raising money for something worthy. They sign up for any number of exciting undertakings from abseils to elephant rides to Himalayan treks, and you get to foot the bill.
Of course, it’s an innovative triumph on the part of the charity. They come up with some once in a lifetime opportunity and patrons are beating a path to their door in order to raise a few grand to take part. Charity wins, the partaker gets the feelgoods of taking part… but you? What do you get? Oh, just a niggling sense of obligation that can only be addressed by putting a big empty space where your salary used to be.
Charity used to involve donating your time and effort to baking cakes, selling raffle tickets and generally giving people something in return for supporting you. The fundraiser got to feel good about raising money for guide dogs or MS, you got some cake or the chance at a raffle prize. Tit for tat. It used to involve something genuinely difficult like having all your hair shaved off despite the fact that you’re puck ugly even with a full compliment of gruaige and your lumpy skull is clearly going to upset things further. Handing over tenners and twenty quids to men and women who were going to run marathons lacked begrudgery, because they were doing something hard. Working for it. Of course, all that changed the day the gym became a perfectly regular place to go and Irish people developed ironing board stomachs where their love handles used to be. And so we found ourselves with this new bastardisation of a charitable act – the exchange of my hard-earned money for your once-in-a-lifetime swim with dolphins or whatever other kind of fuckery you’ve come up with that purports to support a cause while actually providing you with a good time.
Friends, it is not okay to be chuggers. In fact, you’re worse than chuggers. They, at least, also don’t get anything other than their wages out of weaseling a signed direct debit mandate out of an unprepared passer-by. But you? You get a completely misplaced sense of virtue and achievement coupled with a new experience. You dickhead. Stop sponging off your mates to raise money for some disease you never heard of nor cared about before they offered you the chance to do a charity wine tasting on the QE2. You’re fooling yourself if you think you’re doing anything worthy and you might as well be putting your hand in your mate’s pocket while you’re doing it.
Here’s an idea: find something that you actually care about and give them a few quid. Maybe send them the couple of hundred euro you were going to spend on snow suits and poles for your sponsored ski. Don’t expect any return on your offering. Don’t think that they owe you a payoff. Don’t feel the need to tell anybody about what a philanthropist you are. That’s charity. That’s what everyone who isn’t a raving dickhead is doing.