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Image courtesy of Rauglothgor
Unless you have been spending your summer under a cozy rock, you have no doubt by now heard of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge that has swept the Interwebs, the Twitterverse, the Blogosphere, and other humorous-sounding names for social media.
The ice bucket challenge has been unbelievably popular, raising $88.5 million so far. While I know that some individuals have been critical of this phenomenon (although I suspect many of those critics also harrumph about kittens playing, rainbows, and children laughing), for the most part this has been an incredible way to do two things humans really like: make amusing/self-deprecating/self-congratulatory videos to share on social media, and do some good. I personally love seeing things like this go viral, since it means we can harness the things we already do (like make silly videos) for good.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before other organizations took notice and decided to get a piece of the sweet ice-bucket action.
Enter GoEnnounce's #PayMyTuitionChallenge, brought to my attention to Gary, The Dollar Stretcher himself. (GoEnnounce sent him a press release.) Basically, GoEnnounce is encouraging young folks to nominate mentors, relatives, and former teachers to contribute to their tuition bills--or sing a rendition of Destiny's Child's song "Bills, Bills, Bills."
Far be it from to me make light of the overwhelming costs of college education. I think it's a scandal how quickly the tuition costs have grown and how completely unrelated to reality those costs seem to be. However, I'm horrified at the idea of creating a society where it is okay for individuals to call out people to pay for their various financial needs. Doing so for charity is one thing--the charity has a specific and stated need and people's lives are at stake in the case of ALS, and more to the point, the challenger does not ever have to know if the challengee is financially strapped and unable to contribute the full amount asked for. But hitting up mentors, relatives, and teachers for the scratch you need to be able to get your Bachelor's in Underwater Basketweaving (or Pre-Med, even) is just distasteful.
I get that some aspects of etiquette can be a tad confusing or difficult-to-navigate in a changing world. But this is not one of those aspects. It's really very simple:
Challenging friends to take part in a silly viral meme in order to help a charity = good.
Challenging friends to take part in something silly in order to help yourself = bad.
If you really want to fundraise for yourself, I'm more comfortable with GoEnnounce's main business, which is a gofundme style request for donations. Such a direct request/crowdfunding model is easier to refuse or ignore than a "challenge" that calls out a specific individual. Miss Manners is still likely to have a heart attack at the prospect of it, but at least she'd survive it.
What it all comes down to is the fact that we need to recognize that the world (specifically in the person of our friends/mentors/relatives/teachers) does not owe us tuition payments or other financial contributions. I hope GoEnnounce remembers this and finds other ways to encourage young college students to succeed.
What do you think of the #PayMyTuitionChallenge? Do you think it's opportunistic or is it a good opportunity?