Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

The homepage of GoFundMe teems with funds worth funding. From chemotherapy treatments for uninsured Americans to funeral services for a famously curmudgeon cat murdered in cold blood by a neighborhood poisoner to reconstruction efforts for community buildings lost to arson, it is home to nearly every variety of calamity that can befall human, animal, structure, or landscape. That is, until you return the next day to find a scroll of fresh new calamities.

That there is always hardship in the world, always a person in need of a leg up financially, is not peculiar to our time, but social media have worked to collapse these tragedies indiscriminately into our lives, eradicating the levels of distance that once seemed built in to them. We could once justify not giving to a homeless woman on the street because we had no cash on us, or to the charitable cause some earnest teenager called about by claiming we’re out on a run and don’t have our cards handy. But the internet’s bottomless well of needs appears directly into our timelines often enough that we can’t go on making excuses for why we don’t give. Even if those excuses are just to ourselves.

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