Facebook, Birthdays, and Neoliberalism

Earlier this year and last year, Facebook started encouraging its users to garner charitable donations through its platform, especially for birthdays. 

In particular, on my birthday last month Facebook encouraged me to select a charity that friends could donate to as a way of giving a birthday present that would keep giving. Facebook even offered to chip in itself! 

With 539 Facebook Friends (as of 9-3-18), I have a friend with a birthday almost everyday and thus see requests for donations associated with these birthdays all the time.  

And I think we should reconsider this entire trend.

(Setting aside legitimate questions about how much of said money actual ends up with the specified charity.) 

At first, I thought it was a great idea. Then by only late January and early February of this year, it was getting too expensive! Giving even just a few dollars to each birthday fundraiser added up insanely quickly. 

Neoliberalism demands that we pay for research and aid once paid for by tax dollars and common decency, per se. Because of the GOP’s multi-decade-war on everyday people, charities have emerged en masse to help fill voids. No doubt there are absolutely worthy charitable organizations for every possible niche–including Reading Is Fundamental, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation–and they only typically survive with our money alone. 

Problems begin to emerge when there are more and more causes that urgently need our money: our money because Federal, State, and Local governments have not only withdrawn their support but have taken our money and given it to themselves and to the 1 percent in a form of “welfare for the ultra super rich.” In addition to income inequalities and price increases, such charitable responsibilities placed on everyday people only add to economic woes. 

Facebook’s seemingly generous gesture effectively contributions to the normalcy of poverty and privatization and therefore, governmental abuse, too. Facebook is, afterall, a neoliberalim platform, par excellence

I opted not to create a Facebook fundraiser for the above reasons and because I didn’t want my Facebook Friends to be visually assaulted all day with involuntary requests to make a(nother) donation. Money is tight for people. People look to Facebook for an escape from the inhumane domains of capitalism. 

(On this note, no one should be an unpaid volunteer or unpaid intern [how do you like those retronyms?!] in a capitalistic society. Society requires money. Time is money. Labor is money. All involve selling one’s body. Those with power and money should provide fair compensation for any and all labor.) 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda