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The internet is surprisingly generous.
It was distressing to learn that someone had firebombed a North Carolina GOP office in the closing weeks of the 2016 election. But, like many liberals, I was annoyed to see my comrades rush to prove our side’s nobility by raising money for a party organization that ranks among the most toxic and repressive in the country for minorities and the LGBT community. That’s what insurance (and your own supporters!) are for, I thought. And besides, isn’t there someone out there far more deserving of this money?
Like, well… me, for instance.
Yes, me: some guy who writes for a website. Shouldn’t I benefit from the internet’s mostly inexplicable largesse? All I needed was a cause for people to rally people. Luckily, fate handed me exactly what I needed: a parking ticket, in the amount of $73, for illegally blocking a street cleaning.
Sure, I could have afforded to pay it in time. And I should have checked the parking sign before leaving my car there overnight. And just the day before I’d been bragging about only getting one parking ticket in my life. The universe was clearly trying to humble me—but I refused to kneel.
Instead, I did what any selfish millennial with a laptop would have done: I launched a GoFundMe, laying out the problem simply and honestly:
yesterday i got a parking ticket. i really don’t want to pay it. yeah i was dumb for not checking the sign. but come on
the ticket is $73, which is money i need for chicken nuggets. if everyone who doesn’t hate me could pitch in $1, i think i could raise at least $16
gofundme takes 5% of everything i think (didn’t read the conditions carefully), so i’m asking for $77, which will net me $73.15. i’ll use the other 15 cents for bus fare because my car will probably be repossessed soon anyway. thanks
Immediately, though, I ran into problems, the biggest being that GoFundMe‘s minimum donation is $5, not $1.
Then, slowly but surely, the money began trickling in from donors posing as people currently associated with the alt-right, including Dilbert creator Scott Adams, hair product user Milo Yiannopoulos, panda enthusiast Newt Gingrich, and Ivanka Trump. One friend did use her real name, presumably so that I’ll offer to buy her a beer the next time we hang out.
Why the anonymous donations? Probably because a good deal of my friends, jealous that they didn’t have the shameless idea of demanding other people pay for their mistakes, were mad that my campaign was working. When a good pal donated $52 to hit my goal of $77—and ribbed me for living in LA instead of New York—people were in shock. And when the GoFundMe received extra money on top of that, they lashed out.
As of this writing, the campaign has raised $107, or $30 more than I was asking for. It even started trending on GoFundMe for some reason.
So, what’s my advice for getting the internet to treat your minor inconvenience as a charity case worthy of their hard-earned dollars?
Glad you asked. Here’s what I’d say:
- Acknowledge what a piece of shit you are. There’s no shortage of desperation on sites like GoFundMe—remember the woman who wanted to raise cash to get a 420 tattoo removed from her forehead? Might have worked if she had any self-awareness about her idiocy.
- Ask for a relatively small amount. Nobody’s gonna fund $100,000 in lawyers fees so you can properly sue the neighbor who won’t take down their Easter decorations. If people see your goal is a pathetic two-figure sum, they can be assured that even a small contribution will go a long way—and that you’ll notice the kind gesture.
- Be direct and relatable. Everybody’s gotten a parking ticket, right? Fuck yeah! My campaign was an opportunity for everyone who has run afoul of the U.S. vehicular bureaucracy to strike back.
- Offer incentives when necessary. When I was stuck at $20, well short of what I needed, I offered to post a shirtless selfie at $50 and send a dick pic to anyone who individually donated $20 or greater. In the end, my eligible backer graciously declined the dick pic, but Twitter did get to enjoy this disgusting image of my hirsute torso.
The only other rule? Spend the funds on the thing you said you’d spend them on. Unless you need to score drugs. Or there’s a sale on Yeezys. Or you want to donate it all to another crowdfunder. It’s your money now, pal.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'