It’s a fairly common thing in some cities to come across someone sitting on the side of road with a sign asking for help. The decision people then have to make is whether to ignore a panhandler or give them a few bucks.
But what happens when the panhandler isn’t asking for money? What happens when they’re giving money?
The answer for some people is that they get very, very upset.
In this video the online performance artist known as FouseyTUBE sets out to see what happens when he flips the script on business people passing him buy as he sits by the side of the road without any shoes and a cardboard sign. But if they read the sign, he’s not asking for help. The sign says “No one has ever become poor from giving.” And when he gets the attention of passersby, he doesn’t ask for money, but offers them money instead.
FouseyTUBE is a prankster and does gag videos, so he’s obviously expecting that this experiment will yield some kind of reaction. But even he is a bit taken aback by how negatively people in suits react to being given money by someone who looks homeless on the street.
The very first businessman throws the money back at FouseyTUBE and shouts obscenities at him and claims he could ‘buy’ him before walking off angrily. FouseyTUBE asks if giving money on the street is acceptable because of genuine need, or if it’s really about the giver feeling better about themselves.
As the experiment progresses it becomes quickly clear that most of the businessman being offered money are threatened. Their perception of self worth rests on them looking important, and they react in a hostile fashion. One owner of a Mercedes looks ready to start a fist fight when FouseyTUBE tries to pay his parking meter.
Not everyone is angry about the act, thankfully. Early on in the video one lady, slightly confused by FouseyTUBE’s actions crouches next to him and takes the time to listen to the words he has penned on his cardboard placard. She gives him back his money gently and then gives him some more money, and tells him to give that to someone else or great breakfast. After she leaves, FouseyTUBE runs after her to give her a big hug and thank her for her kindness compared to the others.
It does get to the heart of why so many people engage in conspicuous consumption. Some of the people in the video are extremely attached to their identity of being wealthy and successful, and having it challenged just by a person offering them ten dollars demonstrates why more people need a bit more introspection.