GoFundMe Isn’t Just A Hub For Millennial Entitlement

There’s other stuff there, too.

Here’s a relatively clear-eyed look at GoFundMe that manages to present a good look at both sides of the story, from the Boston Globe.

GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform founded by a millennial and used by millennials (and others) to crowdfund things like trips around the world, medical bills, and really, anything else you could think of that needs money. Unlike Kickstarter, which is primarily used for creative endeavors, and CrowdRise, used primarily for charity only, GoFundMe’s popularity is because anyone can create a campaign to fund just about anything they wish. Unlike Kickstarter, GoFundMe will let you keep every penny you raise, minus the 8 percent in processing fees that the company takes.

This piece in the Boston Globe calls attention to the flashier, more attention-getting crowdfunding campaigns on GoFundMe — the “spiritual journeys” and the gap years desired by millennials who want to travel the world without actually doing the work to pay for it. Those kinds of campaigns are easy to mock because, yes, if you want to travel the world, that’s great, but please don’t expect me to pay for it, thanks. It’s this reason that the site has drawn ire from uh, older people, I guess.

As per this piece, a lot of GoFundMe campaigns are evidence of the Problem with Millennials: laziness, self-entitlement, and an unwillingness to do work that would fund their dreams.

For boomers and Gen Xers, the link between work and money is obvious and uncontested. That’s why many of them are appalled by the idea that young, able-bodied millennials would sit at Starbucks, sipping overpriced Mocha Macchiatos, and post online appeals asking others to fund their dreams — rather than, you know, working behind the counter at Starbucks and saving up enough to make that dream come true on their own. You can hear the grumble even before it tumbles from their lips: “Whatever happened to pride? GoFundMe? GoFundYourself!

I’ll cop to feeling some of those very same feelings when seeing GoFundMe campaigns of the spiritual journey ilk, but I will concede that there’s a lot of good out there, too. To be clear — I don’t condone using crowdfunding to support adventures like Bec Gronski’s “spiritual journey,” which is highlighted in this piece. I would much rather donate money for situations where the need feels clearly defined — a family loses their house in a fire or someone needs medical help that they can’t afford. I suspect I’m not alone in this sentiment.

For all of the dubious trips to Indonesia for self-exploration that GoFundMe contains, there are other causes that are arguably more worthy, but do not get nearly the attention.

As I was perusing the site, I noticed that Kayla Newman — aka Peaches Monroe, the teen who created “on fleek” — has a page, looking to raise money to start her own hair and makeup line. “Back in 2014 I came up with the phrase/word “Eyebrows on Fleek” on a 6 sec video on a app called VINE. Everyone has used the phrase/word but I haven’t received any money behind it or recognition,” she writes.

In a 2013 piece for the FADER, Doreen St. Felix explored the way black teens use the internet and social media to shape and influence the culture without reaping any of the rewards. “On fleek” is ubiquitious to the point of being old; it’s slang from 2014 that has been replaced by others, but not before it was used by countless brands and corporations to sell products and communicate a sort of cultural literacy to the youth. Even if you don’t know the origin of the phrase, chances are by now that you’ve heard it.

It’s impossible to track the chain of ownership from there on out. In fact, the chain becomes more like a swarm. Put plainly, there is no recognized ownership. The phrase Newman gave the world was used to sell breakfast foods and party cups, but it only belongs to her in an intangible sense, on the rare occasions in which people choose to give her credit.
“I gave the world a word,” Newman said. “I can’t explain the feeling. At the moment I haven’t gotten any endorsements or received any payment. I feel that I should be compensated. But I also feel that good things happen to those who wait.”

Regardless of your opinion on the value of creating a catchphrase that has been driven into the ground by t-shirts and tacos, Kayla Newman deserves recognition and compensation. Consider Chewbacca Mom, a woman who made a video of herself wearing a Chewbacca mask and laughing in her car. Her contribution to the culture at large was really just that — not a catchphrase, not a new slang word that companies could use to sell pancakes. She has made almost $500,000. Newman has made nothing.