That’s not the message I want to leave with you today; but I do want to tell you a little story. A story made of modern times; and yet steeped in century’s old ubiquitous human assumption. About a week ago, I noticed on Facebook that there was a comedian in another state, a comedian I never met, a comedian in a wheelchair, who was posting that he was scared because he was about to be evicted. All his Facebook friends posted “poor you” and some even set up a PayPal link for folks to donate and help him. Without asking anyone, I took the initiative and set up an online campaign for the guy. Within 24 hours, the $2,500 goal was reached and within another 8 hours, the campaign raised $3,500. The comedian was happy and grateful, to say the least. Now, the nature of these fundraising sites is that they use a third party such as “We Pay”, which delivers the money from the crowd-funding site to the person’s bank account. Since I had already written several successful crowd-funding campaigns through this particular platform, I just set it up on my account for two reasons. One, I couldn’t reach the comedian..just yet. But, also I had a track record and the site’s managers were already impressed with my successes and had offered to highlight whatever my next campaign was. To put it out there to the public a little bit more. As soon as I saw people donating and the campaign beginning to trend, I strongly urged the comedian to set up his own We Pay account ASAP, so that he would get the money directly and it wouldn’t be in my hands. He acknowledged what he had to do; but he never did it.
THEN, something bad happens. He wants to thank me.
The comedian sent me a very nice message that he was so grateful and that he knew I had been struggling lately financially and wanted to see if I could use some financial help. Initially, I turned him down because this was his money, not mine. But, then I thought about his offer. I’m a writer and there’s a very real reason my crowd-funding campaigns have been successful in the past. I’m a damn GOOD writer. Plus, I have an online following and I know how to promote through social media. The comedian agreed on giving me a very small percentage; to which I felt a little funny about, but then again; this was from money he wouldn’t have seen without my help. All good until…. He somehow conveys to his friends that I somehow took advantage of him and ripped him off. It was then that the proverbial shit hit the fan. Everyone started commenting on the site and Facebook that I was a predator, a con-man, a “scumbag” and I even got a not so veiled death threat. Yay me. After two days of creating a timeline document (including screen shots) I was able to show the site’s managers that I was indeed invited to accept payment (and did not solicit) and that I made every due diligence move to get the comedian to set up his own private We Pay account in the first place. The comedian and I agreed to a compromise and all is good again; mostly. I sent him all the money (with some more still coming) and started looking into producing a big benefit in his honor through The Laughter Foundation. I’m still getting some nasty comments from stupid (ne: uninformed), but well meaning, people.
Helping people is good.
Helping people when they’re surrounded by idiots, is not.
Kind of like the Trump administration.
Happy tidings, folks.
This is Steven Alan Green, reporting live from the front lines in the War On Error-ism.