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To Karen’s moral dilemma question here, Emmy replied:

Where’s the moral dilemma here? Give the wallet back, then have 20 of your closest friends hold an auction on ebay for you so you can pay your mortgage, your spouse’s medical bills, get a new sewer line, etc. That seems to be the popular method of paying delinquent bills lately.

I found the comment disturbing on many levels (for starters, where the hell did it come from? how on earth did it relate to the question posed? and, thanks for spewing the bitterness all over the innocent bystanders–there’s never enough bitterness to go around) and planned to post about it, but wanted to take some time to think about how to frame my reaction and thoughts, since a) I’ve had run-ins with Emmy and frankly didn’t want to make it about her, and b) it opened a larger avenue of rambling thoughts in my head. However, Julie Leto beat me to it by commenting:

As for the eBay auctions, these are extreme circumstances and Emmy, I find your comment really cruel. I’ve participated in several and never were the situations worthy of such scorn, IMO.

Granted, there are documented cases of scammers inventing desperate cases, either as pranks, as a way to get attention, or for profit (just check snopes.com for full accounts). But those cases are not the majority, and given the context of the original comment in that thread, it was a pointed reference to current and recent efforts by the romance community to help some of its less fortunate members. The people in question are personally known to a good number of the community, so the scam aspect does not apply.

So, without making it about Emmy, here’s my pondering: why is it that some people get angry or derisive when communities (friends, relatives, school mates, work colleagues) unite to help one of their own in need?

Is it envy, that these people are “getting off easy”, while the angry observer has to struggle on his/her own?

Is it anger out of fear that the person making the snide comment wouldn’t get the same response if it were them in need?

Or is it self-righteousness, because the person commenting has never been in such an extreme position as to need help from friends and strangers?

What say you, o esteemed readers?


Update: since it seems it’s needed, allow me to clarify. I was aware of Emmy’s generosity from the tsunami relief action at Shiloh’s blog–which is one of the reasons I didn’t want to make it about her.


  • Sparky
    December 17
    12:21 pm

    I think it’s lack of understanding and assumption of coersion.

    I come form a very very very large, very close knit family. And when one of us is in trouble, we get help. Lots of help. So much help you want to barricade the door and leave the phone off the hook sometimes :). If one of us is in trouble second cousins 3 times removed will batter down the door offering support, work, time, resources and, yes, money. We fight like cats in a sack most of the time but if one of us is actually struggling the help is there

    But I’ve found people who don’t have or aren’t used to that kind of support network can seem bitter and angry about it. They assume that the person needing help has gone round the helpers and guilted them into it. They assume the helpers were forced or coerced, even exploited. They even cast doubt on whether the need is genuine.

    I pity them. I pity them because it means they don’t have friends good enough or family close enough who would rally round them in times of need. So they don’t understand when it happens with other people – and because it wouldn’t happen for them

    And I don’t see the shame of asking for help. Yes X did it on their own and Y didn’t get help. But just because some people soldiered on on their own, suffering and striving, does that mean that it’s somehow immoral to take help from friends and family who freely offer and freely give – knowing you would help them if the tables were reversed?


  • I dunno… I think some people think they wouldn’t get the help they needed if they needed it. Or maybe they feel they need it, too? Not sure. Some of the real anger stems from bitterness, I imagine. But why? Dunno.

    And I know you said you didn’t want this to be about Emmy, but I just feel the need to to point this out~this ironic thing:

    For all of Emmy’s comments, harsh as many of them are, I don’t think most, if any of them, come from bitterness. She likes to jerk people’s chains.

    She was the one who spent over $500 to win the auction I held to raise money for the tsunami victims.

    And I suspect she was also one of the bidders for the auctions done to raise money for Jo Leigh.

    I’ve decided Emmy is just odd…I think she likes making people think she’s a mean bitch, but generally, mean bitches don’t spend the kind of money she did on a couple of books.


  • Emmy
    December 17
    1:20 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else that my referenced comment that is not in reference to me at all despite referencing my name four times might relate to, but my comments about mortages, etc addresssed this part of the presented dilemma:

    Your mortgage hasn’t been paid for a couple of months since your husband was laid off, and you’re finding it difficult to even pay for groceries. Your eldest kid starts school soon, and he/she needs new clothes, as the ones he/she has are ill-fitting

    As for auctions to help people, I’ve donated thousands to various authors and victims of weather events this year alone, in addition to the local charity and volunteer work that I do, so I couldn’t answer that part of your question either. I’m not bitter about giving money to people. It’s actually kinda fun.

    As for eBay autions specifically, many of my comments about auctions are personal jokes. This summer during one auction, I speculated as to what kind of nut job would bid several hundred dollars on a bunch of books. Boy howdy, pissed a bunch of people off. Oh well. What nobody knew at the time is that I was the nut job making those bids. *shrugs* Hey, it was funny to me. As far as I can tell by a quick look at Jo Leigh’s auction list, I was the highest single donor there. I’m a giving kinda person *weg*.


  • Shiloh, Emmy, see the update.


  • I knew there was a reason I adore you so, Emmy…


  • I have to admit, when I saw the comment (No offense to Emmy), I was six kinds of appalled. It just seemed unnecessary, but as Julie beat me to a response, I didn’t comment on it–why beat an already chastised horse?

    It also didn’t surprise me.

    In my tenure as host, I’ve seen a lot of generous souls on eHQ.com and I’ve also seen a lot of people who have gotten offended or derisive about…well, hell, oxygen. It doesn’t take much and we’ve had this kind of situation happen a lot. (LOL and Emmy was not involved)

    What have I learned? That a) tone being absent can turn a sly joke into misinterpreted cruelty and b) you know, some folks can’t get past their own jealousies. They forget that when you covet someone else’s good fortune, you’re also coveting the difficulties they’ve had to overcome to receive it.

    Sadly, it’s a lesson some people never learn.


  • I’ve seen about four different auctions/donation drives for people in risk of losing their mortgage/etc in the past month and a half alone, on LiveJournal and various blogs. I think that may have been what Emmy was referencing.

    It has struck me as a bit odd, because while I’ve seen these occasionally over the past few years, I haven’t seen them anywhere near as frequent. Some of the situations I’ve seen lately have been pretty dire, involving death or chronic illness of a spouse or family member. Not much you can do there.

    There’s other situations I’ve seen though, that I wonder… ok, sure, the people are in a bad spot but no worse than a good percent of people out there. Great that their friends are willing to try to help, but it doesn’t rate on the same level as “keep from losing house”/”care for dying mother” for me. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I don’t have a lot of money myself, so if I’m donating… I’m picky about where it goes.


  • Jen
    December 18
    12:14 am

    I think there’s a natural degree of suspicion under there, too. Any time this kind of micro-charity is involved, there will always be those present who can turn it for personal gain. The sensationalized stories about so-and-so on a message board or internet community turning out to be a completely different person than they represented get attention precisely because they play on our basic fears–what if the person posting those personal pics and that heartwarming story is farming the images from photobucket and is a really good fiction writer? What if your generosity towards someone you think you know is really a carefully-crafted and cunning graft?

    In doing reading elsewhere on the history of socialism and the American welfare system, I’ve also uncovered an interesting bit of information–people have personal lines drawn between “us” and “them” – or to put it more succinctly, people who “deserve” help and people who don’t. Fewer people are opposed to a socialist system that redistributes wealth to “like” people. Many more people object to it when that wealth is redistributed to people significantly different from them.


  • Aztec, some people are just naturally bitter. About everything.

    As a bit of pessimist myself, some cynicism doesn’t surprise me.

    But there are just way too many people in the world who get offended over everything, including oxygen, just like Dee said.

    I think a lot of it boils down to that fact that more and more people have this sense of entitlement-that simply being born entitles them to have whatever they want, (like oh…say pirated books, growl…or the nice car that they can’t afford but they’ll go into hole because they just wants it so badly).

    The majority of people USED to be willing to work for what they had, and work harder for the things they really wanted.

    Now it seems like the balance is slipping and more and more people just expect to get what they want, without worrying about whether they can afford, whether they deserve, whether they earned it. But when they can’t/don’t/aren’t give, they get ugly.


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