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I’m Not a Fan of FreeRice

Hoo boy. I’m going to step on some toes with this one.

I’m not a fan of FreeRice. If you haven’t heard of it, FreeRice is a website that promises to donate rice to the poor and starving. Users who visit the site are encouraged to play a simple vocabulary game, with the site promising to donate 10 20 grains of rice per correct answer. Enough people play and you feed the world. Sounds easy, right?

Why I don’t like it

I applaud the site’s owner. He came up with a good idea and he’s making a difference for thousands of people. I don’t have a problem with him. My problem is with the users.

There’s a type of ‘charity’ that I like to call lazy giving. People write a check, send it off to their favorite church/charity/whatever, and they feel good about themselves. They don’t care what happens to the money, only that they know that they’ve ‘helped the community’. This website is the same thing. People log in, play a few games, get that good feeling, and then quit. They’re not really making a difference, but it’s the feeling that counts, right? It’s basically moral masturbation.

You may think I’m being harsh. After all, this site gives people the opportunity to reach out to those in need, right? Well, technically yes, but while the FreeRice users are feeding the world and patting each other on the back, they’re ignoring the needy in their own towns. When was the last time you mowed an older couple’s yard? How about donating clothing to a homeless shelter? What about that single parent who lives down the street whose car just broke down?

My issue isn’t with FreeRice. It’s with all ‘easy’ charities. Charities that encourage you to throw your money at them and walk away happy. The next time you want to feel good about yourself, try spending more than 5 minutes doing it.

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4 Responses to “I’m Not a Fan of FreeRice”

  1. isabella mori Says:

    i’ve spent the majority of my working life working and volunteering for nonprofits. over the years, i’ve come to realize that we need to be pragmatic about this. yes, charities and the environment are a real fad right now, and that leaves a funny taste in my mouth. but i think it works like this: the people who were lazy about making a contribution to the world and are playing at free rice are at least making a small contribution right now. a small percentage of them might even get a taste for it and take it further. plus, many people who go to free rice (most people i know) are ALREADY contributing in other ways, and this is just one more thing they do.

  2. Brandon St. Germaine Says:

    Don’t let your pride in the work you have done damage the work of others. Helping others isn’t a competition or a game. So what if people get a good feeling after a few seconds of playing a game? Maybe they think they’re good people? It doesn’t matter if they haven’t done as much hard work as the next guy: all that matters is that we’re helping.

  3. C-Squared Says:

    I agree here. Plus, I’m betting that you could make a lot more money in the time you spend playing FreeRice, and then just give away that money.

    I was pissed off as hell yesterday when half the people in my classroom started talking about it and playing it. Seriously, 20 grains a word? You can’t feed shit at that rate. It would take you like half an hour just to feed someone for one day. All the while, the advertisers get lots of exposure, even though I’m sure that if you took all the advertising companies and folded their money you’d solve world hunger in the first place.

    Seriously, it only takes a dollar a day to feed someone.

  4. Jinghao Says:

    As much as I am a disbeliever in the whole “some people help just out of selfish desire” notion, I still believe that FreeRice is very much a scam. Like the person said above, 20 grains a word is seriously not enough to feed anyone. Hence why I made the AutoClicker (on my link) which effortlessly donates rice for you.

    I know–this is no better than sitting there and clicking on the site itself, but at least I made it possible for thousands of people to leave the application on while they work their work and keep their own family alive.

    Don’t scold me. Please.

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