The rise of the internet over the last few years has brought a lot of changes to how we operate in our day to day lives. One of these changes is in how we promote things that mean a lot to us. Digital advocay has become more and more of “the norm” in recent years. This trend has been aided by successful advocacy campaigns such as “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. This recent viral campaign asked people to either donate to ALS research or dump a bucket of ice over your head. However, as Will Oremus states in his article, “Take the “No Ice Bucket” Challenge”, this challenge wasn’t all that it seemed. He says, “….it’s hard to shake the feeling that, for most of the people posting ice bucket videos of themselves on Facebook, Vine, and Instagram, the charity part remains a postscript. Remember, the way the challenge is set up, the ice-drenching is the alternative to contributing actual money.”
As Will is pointing out, many cyber advocacy projects tend to have good intentions but end up being more of something to have fun with or exploit than actual advocacy. I feel that the site GoFundMe is an example of where this happens all the time. One blog discusses this fact in a post titled “Go Fund Yourself”. In this post, the author give the story of a girl who funded her Uber bill after she took a $400 dollar ride on Halloween ride and got all of the money needed. Campaigns like this are all over GoFundMe. The site has almost become a place where people can go to do what people used to (and still do) do outside of the local Walmart. The site has become a place where it has become perfectly acceptable to beg for money for the dumbest things possible. One local GoFundMe (that has no money but is a good example) is from a local college student who wants to be “tattooed all over” and is trying to raise money for his tattoos on the site.
Not all GoFundMe pages are people begging. In fact, the majority of GoFundMe pages have legitimate causes that they are supporting. I think that sites such as GoFundMe are trying to accomplish things that are very worth while. Another local GoFundMe is supporting a family of a man who recently passed away and a currently trending fund is supporting a man with stage four bile duct cancer.
The site has set out to solve many very important issues and is succeeding in this goal. However, the unfortunate truth is that humans will always find a way to exploit good things in order to make them selfishly benefit themselves. I just wonder, how long will it be until the site is saturated by people trying to take advantage of this advocacy in order to become “advocacy trolls” who just want to exploit the generosity of those around them?