Why Should  I Help?

Money Yes, Idea No

By Someswar Bhagwat

IF you are a frequent user of the Internet you will be familiar with two terms: crowd funding and crowd sourcing. The first collects small amounts from money to finance a publication or a project. It is meant to collect from a large number small amounts so no one is burdened and everyone feels a sense of participation. Something like buying shares on the stock market – only you don’t buy one or two, you buy a hundred or more and you get a dividend or sell the shares= when the price goes up; so you get big money. In crowd funding what you get is a sense of satisfaction or participation – abstract things and no concrete gain.

In the second what people ‘give’ costs them nothing. They only give ideas or information. I wrote a book on my profession, journalism, and sought titbits about the profession from those in it; no money, no books, nothing but ideas and anecdotes. It is impossible for one journalist to know about all newspapers and news agencies.  Now a third factor, the electronic media has come up. The fourth, social media, is too new to be analyzed.  While the first three are handled by trained people who constitute an organized profession of trained people, the fourth is everyone’s game and therefore subject to no accepted norms, discipline or even truth. It is believed to be the originator of fake news.

Which of the first two based on crowds would be expected to have had a big response?  It may come as a surprise to most – it is the appeal for funds, not that for ideas. People are more likely to be parting with money – filthy lucre — than with ideas.  “A penny for your thoughts” may be a popular English usage, but thoughts or ideas are certainly worth more than a penny – or even a pound.

The response to appeal for funds is so high that several agencies narrating sob stories with pictures, mostly of unfortunate children and mothers have come up. They make the contributors feel they have compassion and kindness and thus raises their self-esteem even if it does not bring them fame as philanthropists. Self-esteem, fame and success are rated above money and no one wants to be an anonymous contributor to anyone’s success. Even an offer that everyone’s help would be acknowledged in print brought contributions only from close acquaintances and students and from none else. Everyone =probably thinks, “Why should I help this person be an achiever?”

Sigmund Freud (of psychiatry) and Max Wertheimer (of Gestalt psychology) are not around to theorize on this trend of thought and may be some modern psychologist may have examined it but is confined to psychology books. One thing however is certain: people say, “Money, yes, ideas, no.”


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