Saturday, February 15, 2020

Do you "owe" the less fortunate your "time" and even public advocacy? Should you be willing to knock on doors?


I need to react a bit to the tone of pleas and even demands for my “time” and personal attention from activists, charities, non-profits, various persons online and even in the mail.
  
Let me preface this by noting that I do make monthly contributions through my trust mechanism to certain non-profits (some were my mother’s and some are beneficiaries) privately through an automated process at a bank.  Of course, this doesn’t get matching funds or support their public relations.  It’s just a monthly contribution.


There’s a young man raising funds for a shopping spree for underprivileged kids, for example. 

Recently he wrote a tweet scolding wealthier people with the means to contribute for not supporting his effort. 

He also says, “veterans need your time”. Well, time given away may be time lost.  Actually, veterans do mean something because I have been in the military myself (a long time ago).  But I decide where my time goes, not someone else.
  
Or another example.  Often, when I link to a news story on an issue in a Facebook post (and I usually choose well known and reliable sources to link to)  I often get prodded to add a donate button and raise money publicly for an established non-profit, as if this were a quid pro quo for publishing online.  Also, Facebook, back, in 2018, told me that it could not promote my page unless I sold things on it to become known to advertisers.  I don't have any obvious consumer items to "sell". 

You can imagine where this is heading.

I do subscribe (through paywalls) to a few news outlets, and I do make small contributions through patronage sites (Patreon) to a few YouTube channels that I like.  But I don’t let anyone claim “I am your voice” and I don’t let anyone hire me to advertise or speak for them under normal circumstances (“until I do”). 

To become involved in something, I need to really believe in it and be prepared to offer considerable time and effort, before any other public involvement or contribution streams are appropriate.



So, please don’t scream “we can’t do this without you.”  Yes you can.  That’s patently false.  I don’t need your false extroversion.

But I agree, you can go down a rabbit hole when you talk about issues and then don’t actually have responsibility for other people who are less than perfect and are able to care about them personally (call it social capital, call it “skin in the game”).

In a tangentially related matter, I have kept this “connect the dots” (aka “do ask do tell”) operation online for twenty-plus years by myself, but I get feedback that this cannot be sustainable into today’s polarized and risk-laden environment, and that’s why I have announced changes for the end of 2021.  I hope we get there without incident (like hospitalization, another big tech political collapse, or coronavirus).  In the meantime, I don’t make political contributions to candidates (at least in 2020) or volunteer for campaigns.  I can’t take the position that one politician can fix everything for me.  I pick and choose my own issues. 
  
But, of course, you will say, I am hollowing out the system and leaving it to the extremes.  Remember my “dangerous thought experiment”. 

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