I’ve changed the title of the series from “Can Social Media Buy ME a House?” to “Can Social Media Buy YOU a House?” for the simple reason that, as a social experiment I don’t really care if what comes from this is personal gain. In fact, it would be far more interesting if it were someone else who was the beneficiary of the experiment.
When I first put this notion out into cyber-space a few days ago I received several Facebook notes from friends telling me how I could go about finding a place to live. Some suggested social housing even. While I am not against social housing I must say that the attitude required, in ones mind, to accept socially assisted living is part of the problem that I want to solve with this experiment.
Social assistance is, by now means, a new notion. The Romans did it. In the Jewish tradition it was considered a right of the poor to receive charity from the wealthy. Most organize religions promote charity as a way to shave off some of ones sins.
But there is a price to charity. Often (and I’m not saying always) people who live on the charity of others become dependant on that charity. It becomes a mind-set that is passed through generations. There are numerous stories of individuals who pull themselves out of such lives but that requires a herculean effort that not many can aspire to.
So, the notion of just buying someone a house is not going to work. If someone does not have to work for their success they won’t. It’s human nature.
When I was at Trent University I had a job on the line, at General Motors. I worked 89 days (90 would’ve put me in the union) and I was able to use the money to pay for my education. I graduated in 3 years with a BA. I had several friends who’s parents paid for their post-secondary education while they lounged around at the cottage in the summers. Guess what? 80% of them had to go on to a 4th year to finish their degrees. It was a great lesson for me. As much as I resented their free-ride, I realized quickly that the value of doing it yourself far out-weighs sipping margaritas by the lake.
Having said that I do believe that providing charity to others is a social obligation that should be part of everyone’s life. We are among the top 10% of the world’s richest people. We shouldn’t be receiving charity, we should be giving it.
The question becomes “where can my efforts produce the greatest good?”. If you look at the opportunities to help others you an break it down into several categories.
Yep, you have to include self because helping yourself may just lead to helping others.
Helping others. Where would you get the most bang for your buck and the most satisfaction? I would suggest that helping others in your community could potentially have the largest impact and here’s why.
If you set up someone to succeed you help to change the way they think about money, giving etc. If they have come from a place of receiving charity and you take them to a place where they can make their own successes then you enable (in a good way) them to pay that behaviour forward and help others. Thus creating a community of people who think in a philanthropic way first.
To that end, I think that looking around your community and seeing how you can help to make it better, not by donating money but by improving someone’s situation so that they can help someone else may just be the best sort of “giver” you could be.
As always, I am very interested in your thoughts about this notion. I’m sure there are skeptics so bring it on, I’ll try to answer all of your questions and comments.
Next article: How can we make this funner (I know it’s not a word, that’s what makes it funner