People Are Crowdfunding Vacations And It's Actually F*cking Working

by Chris Riotta

If you scroll through Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms, the majority of what you'll see is selfies and bullsh*t. It's a fact of life: Shameless self-promotion is just the world we live in today.

From an entire album of Photoshopped beauty shots (published by someone you may have added to see if he or she was still dating your hookup) to videos of people who clearly starved themselves for weeks before partaking in the Ice Bucket Challenge (you're way late), the overload of garbage and lack of dignity will surely astound you.

Or you might be used to it all, desensitized to just how shallow people have become.

But online trends have hit a new low, and if you've caught on, you may be questioning WTF has happened to this generation.

If you haven't noticed, let me explain. It's becoming more and more acceptable for people to crowdfund their trips, vacations and adventures with sites like GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.

How does anyone think this is okay? Seriously, we're just going to let this happen? I don't think so.

What's worse is that people are actually donating to the cause. What person in his or her right mind is going to fund "Chrissy's 21st In Miami!"? Did Chrissy really get donations from friends and family so she could take Jell-O shots out of a stripper's belly button on South Beach?

The Wall Street Journal interviewed a variety of people who have used crowdfunding for vacations and other various adventures.

One woman created a GoFundMe to pay her way through circus school, and another 24-year-old raised enough money to travel to meet a long-distance, Internet girlfriend at Disneyland in California. Another person even funded her "Eat, Pray, Love" finding-herself-in-her-50s trip to Italy after getting laid off.

In some situations, I definitely see the validity in helping a friend, relative or even an acquaintance in a financial bind. But to fund a complete stranger's dream vacation while I'm trying to plan my own is just not on my agenda.

Jameelah Kareem created a GoFundMe campaign to help cover her vacation in Las Vegas. Kareem was hoping she would be able to round up enough money to see the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight.

Kareem received quite a bit of backlash by Team Internet in the weeks following, with many saying her campaign goals of flying to Vegas for a week of gambling, drinking and boxing were ridiculous reasons to create a GoFundMe campaign.

Still, "Jah" reached her initial goal of $1,500, raising enough money to fund her entire vacation to Vegas. She was feeling pretty blue about all the trolls and haters on social media dissing her wonderful upcoming trip, though, and she decided to do something about it.

Now, her campaign on GoFundMe has been upped to $5,000, and she's giving whatever money she doesn't use to someone she went to high school with who has breast cancer. The two haven't seen each other since high school, but Kareem says she's talked to the person on Facebook "here and there."

I'm not even going to get into the alarmingly suspicious motives behind Jah's new breast cancer awareness campaign. And you know what? I'll even refrain from throwing all the shade I have against her tacky profile photo used to solicit money from strangers.

But that people would just go ahead and give a random girl on the Internet -- who will be spending other people's money to party in Vegas -- even more money to "send to someone she went to high school with" is what truly disturbs me.

I'm sure you've also heard about the guy who's raising money for his plane ticket to Miami. This guy isn't just going on a vacation; in fact, he's somewhat of a chaperone.

You see, his girlfriend is the one who is actually traveling to the 305 -- her boyfriend just refuses to let her party during Spring Break without him.

Azel Prather Jr., the man behind the campaign, wrote on the GoFundMe account,

We have a great thing going and I would hate to see it go down the drain for a little sand and sun. If you could find it in your heart to donate ANYTHING to help save my relationship, I would greatly appreciate it.

Well Azel, it looks like the Internet heard your call and decided to grant you a few more months of a possessive relationship. So glad for the happy couple, am I right?

The nervous boyfriend told the Washington Post he wasn't actually entirely concerned with his relationship -- and why should he be? Anyone who writes he will be "overseeing all fun activities" during his girlfriend's trip is likely to be controlling enough to know about his woman's every single move.

Instead, Prather is actually more focused on Miami than anything else. When his campaign to get him to South Beach wasn't going as swimmingly as he expected, Prather began to panic.

Oh no, Big Zel! I would have been nervously live-tweeting my frustrations on a failing GoFundMe campaign if I were you, too.

However, Prather didn't give up on his efforts, and he succeeded in raising enough money to get to the sandy beaches of Miami! Even though Spring Break was almost over, Prather still felt the need to babysit his girlfriend in Florida.

He told the Post,

She's posted on Instagram two times and both times she was in a bathing suit and it received  more than 200 likes. I asked her to stop. That's too many likes for me. The weekend is halfway over in Maryland, but every day is the weekend in Miami.

Poor guy. Go to her, Azel. GO TO HER. Here, please, take all my money!

One religious organization has even tried its own success at crowdfunding a vacation with quite a hefty price tag.

The Root reports that Creflo Dollar Ministries recently pulled a campaign to raise $65,000,000 for a brand new Gulfstream G650 jet. The church said it needed the jet to fly to various parts of the world.

The funding page was yanked after the church was receiving quick backlash online for the ridiculous-looking campaign.

But, in all honesty, can you blame them? It's only fair God's people fly in private, high-end jets when they're closer to him than ever.

I mean, shouldn't all ministries have jet planes like this? I wish I still had time to fund a campaign so deserving.

The interior looks great for impromptu Bible readings -- an important obligation for any ministry flying at altitudes higher than 5,000 feet.

Just in case the group is flying on a Sunday, the $65 million dollar jet appears to have plenty of comfort zones and areas to unwind and relax. Sundays are, after all, the day God gave the world to fly first class, right?

Wrong. I usually have enough patience with the World Wide Web to control my anger and conceal my frustrations with people's stupidity. But I just can't sit quiet on this any longer.

I was raised to believe in the power of hard work. I fully understand the need to take a vacation, or several, throughout the year in order to clear our heads, center our minds and remember what it is to be an actual human being instead of just a working robot.

But I've always been taught I have to work for what I want in life, and if that means taking a vacation, I need to earn it.

This new trend of raising money through crowdfunding websites is a ridiculous and unjustified way of paying for a frivolous vacation. There's even an entire website dedicated to crowdfunding travel and vacation now.

It's one thing if the trip is supporting someone who is traveling for educational purposes or even volunteering for an organization or non-profit abroad. But a boxing match in Las Vegas? A tumultuous relationship on South Beach? "Eat, Pray, Love" in Italy? A $65 MILLION DOLLAR JET?

This fad needs to die now.

Citations: People Are Using Crowdfunding Sites to Pay for Overseas Travel, Classes (Wall Street Journal), Boyfriend to crowdfunders: u2018Girlfriend will dump me unless you send me to Miami spring breaku2019 (Washington Post), Creflo Dollar Ministries Yanks Fundraising Page for Private Jet (The Root)