Empathy Millionaire

Yesterday, I read Jenny Lawson’s most recent post about how people threaten her to support their causes. They try to use empathy or guilt. It got so bad for her that she had to write a very well thought out response explaining why she cannot. Well, I might be giving you a really high level point of view on it – read it for yourself.

It made me angry at society – a certain part of society that feels their causes are the most important cause above all others and that we need to support their cause (I am fully aware of that run-on, thank you). Some of my friends are like that. Their social media pages are full of posts supporting their cause. People have become very self-entitled and narcissistic in the social media age.

Me? I have a blog, right? Am I not one of them? Well, yes, and no. I have a blog, three, actually. This is the blog that no one know about, with exception to five, maybe six people (and those who stumble upon it). I come here when I need to express something that I do not want to express any where else.

Wait, I am wandering far away from the original reason for this post. So back to it, shall we?

Once I finished reading her post, I started to think about the people who “threaten” me in my life, and my field of work. Except, replace the word “threaten” with “empathy.”

I am a helper. I like to help others. I am a freelance graphic designer. Sometimes, being both bites me in the ass.

In my realm of the world, I deal with situations with “friends” who do not threaten me, per se, but use what I like to call charity empathy. First, they start off by complimenting me, telling me how talented I am, and they want me to design a new logo, or illustrate/paint, something for them. Then, they share with me that they do not have the money to pay me because of <insert sickness/debt/your-my-friend-so-you-should-do-it-for-free reason here>.

Can I find it in my heart to do it for a small fee, like $25?

Because I am a good person?

Because I am such a dear friend?

Because it is in my genetic makeup to help others. I usually agree to help – at a tiny fraction of what I would normally charge. I tell myself, “It’s practice.”

Then I complete the logo. My friend loves it. The check is on the way.

I am still waiting. This was a year ago.

Then, this friend reaches out to me again for something else. I say no. I remind her that she never paid me before (in a non-confrontational way, of course). She gives me more guilt (using her children this time as her reason). She apologizes. She says she will pay. Then silence from her end for months. No payment. Then, she need something again and the whole circle starts again.

Only recently, have I stood my ground. I am truly sorry that my friend is in a state of monetary restraint. So am I. So is most of the country. I cannot tell my doctor, “thank you for the surgery, however, I cannot pay because the future Little Timmy that you just removed from my body needs braces.”

How am I suppose to pay my bills? Hell, I just went got off a phone call with my bank, because I could not log in to my account and I was afraid that I got hacked, again. I think I am having a little monetary crisis myself at the moment.

Maybe I can pay people and institutions in empathy? I sure have plenty of that.

But empathy does not pay.

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