Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Misreading Tom

My social media timeline has a big dash of talk about the money raised by one man's sponsored walk.  There are about equal levels of "he's amazing and personally made these millions of pounds of difference", and "it is outrageous that this should happen as he should have been sat comfortably in an armchair and the money happened another way".

I don't think he raised this money in that sense that it would otherwise not have been forthcoming. I don't mean to belittle anything about his excellent efforts, but whether you run a marathon and get sponsored £100 or £10m you still do the same amount of marathonning. It's just about whether your run is drawn to enough people's attention and how they feel at that moment about the cause you're raising for.

Tom's fundraiser had lots of media-friendly imagery and notions and of course the papers - lacking celeb gossip, snatched photos from new TV series shoots, normal political interplay, sports or so much more to report on - loved it.

But people aren't, I think, really donating because of Tom.  They are donating because millions of us are living lives that have been turned upside down. 

We want to be able to do something that helps this end, something that makes it less hard for everyone in the world.  Except almost everything you could do for any other crisis is ruled out: all you can do is stay indoors lots to try and reduce the R factor, and hope the people working in healthcare are going to make it through okay.  A sponsored walk is something when people are wrung out and frantic at the feeling they can only do nothing.

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