Last week as I was walking down 5th Street in San Diego, I came across a homeless couple. Man. Woman. Maltese dog in a rain slicker. Yes, they had a Maltese dog and were panhandling on the corner. Several things ran through my mind as I passed the couple. If I were to give them money, is it going to the dog, or to them? Why won’t they just sell the dog and pocket the money? Hell, a pure breed Maltese could easily net someone about $500 on Craigslist. A day later, I walked passed the same couple. I gave them $2, but I also told them maybe they should look into selling the dog. Hell, I wasn’t going to give my money without offering my opinion.
Nowadays, panhandling has reached Web 2.0 status. You have people using avenues such as Twitter, Facebook, Chipin and other sites looking for donations from strangers. The needs of people run a muck, from birthday donations, bills, family crisis, you name it, there’s someone on the internet panhandling for it. Just last year a has been somewhat well-known female rapper posted her PayPal information asking for donations for liquor and cigarettes around her birthday. Sure enough, even though she may have been joking, people still sent money via PayPal.
Personally, I’m not giving money to a stranger, unless it’s a charitable tax write-off. But not everyone is like me. I would be the type to police what the money is being used for. If you’re asking for money because you’re dealing with a crisis, and the next day I see you talking about your next vacation, or something as simple as a new movie you saw, consider yourself suspect in my book.
Just as there are people out there who are in need of help, there are people out there making a habit out of panhandling on the internet. Being that it’s not easy to distinguish from the two, I’d rather keep my money in my pocket, and just hope, some of their real friends & family members come to their rescue, instead of strangers on the internet.