What goes through your mind when walking down the street and you are confronted by someone begging? Do you think, like me, get a life and get a job and pointedly ignore them, or, do you think, poor bugger, what a life they have, I wonder what happened to put them here, drop some coins in their hat, or on the cardboard they are sat or sprawled on and walk on thinking that you have helped some poor sole to maybe get a decent cup of tea and then promptly forget all about them as you continue on your way.
I have to confess here that I really have not felt the slightest sympathy for street beggars. Call me a hard unfeeling bastard if you will, I don't mind, I am called worse on a regular basis, but, I have no sympathy for people who sprawl along our thoroughfares looking for a quick fix from mugs who throw them a few coins. I really don't believe there is a need for it, whatever their individual circumstances are, there is always a way out. And lets not forget there have been a number of cases over the years where some people have been identified as being professional beggars who go out deliberately dressed down as a homeless person in order to make a living. And this is not a new phenomenon. Conan Doyles super sleuth Sherlock Holmes was once investigating the case of a well to do husband who had gone missing in mysterious circumstances, in The Man With The Twisted Lip (1891), and he discovered that the well known street beggar, arrested for murdering the missing husband, and who was found in the locked room where the husband was last seen, but had disappeared and was thought to have been thrown out of the window into the Thames by the beggar, was in fact the wealthy missing husband who made his wealth from the money given to him on the streets......
Of course there are also varying degrees of beggars; There are those who sit or lie there listlessly staring into space seemingly not seeing you and appear oblivious to their surroundings or to whether you contribute to their lifestyle, or not, Others actively try and engage you and attempt to illicit some degree of sympathy with their blighted situation. Then of course there are those who sit there with a dog hoping that even if you have no sympathy for them, you will at least have some for the starving dog, all this just makes we want to kick them both as I go past..... but before you crucify me in prose, I can confirm that I have resisted the overwhelming temptation to kick them out of my way.
Having said all of the above, and no matter what a blight these beggars are on the landscape, let's now bring us up to date with the title of this Blog.....21st Century Beggars.
Who are these people? I hear you ask, well, they are the PC liter...., sorry I nearly wrote literate, but that implies an ability to read and write at a conventionally accepted level, and clearly a majority of them are also incapable of this basic functionality, sorry I am digressing again, what I am referring to are those people who clearly have some access to some money as they the appear to own a PC or a laptop or expensive smart phone and who must pay some organisation for access to the Internet.....
And they have taken begging to new levels, not for them the cold rain swept streets of our towns and cities, dressed in their threadbare clothes or with their bedraggled offspring or dog, no, for them it is the comfort of their sofa or kitchen table, while no doubt sipping their wine or brewing their coffee from the new bag of freshly ground beans, they post their requests, not for coins of the realm, but for more esoteric items required to find fulfilment in their lives. Or is it that we have a new breed of person that realises that there are mugs out there who will fall for the begging email who wouldn't otherwise give them the time of day if they were begging on the street.
One source that seems to have given these beggars a forum to virtually spam you, is the increase in Free Cycle sites. If you don't know what these are they are sites that are set up in areas all over the country and allow you to post items that you no longer want, that might be broken or you just might be having a clear out. You can post anything on these sites, whether it is a working TV, a broken TV, bed, black bags full of miscellaneous brick-a-brack, whatever you want. People then send you an email saying they will take it off your hands and you arrange for them to come and collect it. Why, I here you ask. Well it was a simple thought by someone somewhere who didn't want to keep putting things into landfill sites and came up with the simple solution of continually recycling them and it works, so well done. I have used it myself and it also avoids having to pay the local council to come and uplift it for you.
The problem now of course that others have caught on to these sites and the moderators of the sites seem to be ignoring the inordinate amount of posts through them that are now posting with 'WANTED' instead of what the site was designed for, which is, 'OFFERED'.
A couple of recent posts on my local 'Freegle' site were;
[********Freegle] WANTED: working fully washing machine
and the body of the message went on to state;
'as mine is not working we tryed everthing even fueses and i have five children and also im disabled so if any one can help thank up amd for the people who took there time to read this thanku'
The above seems to be typical of this type of post and my earlier comments re grammar [and spelling] not withstanding, sums up my anger and frustration with this type of begging.
Here we have some one who has five children, presumably getting child benefit [god bless the welfare state] and is disabled, no doubt getting disability allowance..... but still needs to beg the rest of us for a washing machine that can cost anything from £150.00 to over a £1,000.00 .
Ridiculous, and ludicrous, doesn't quite sum up this request, I know inflation is running at around 4% but you beg on the street and expect and hope to get some coins thrown at you from maybe one person in five who passes you, but put it on the internet and expect someone to give you something worth anything from the sums I mentioned above.
Well what's the harm I hear you ask, if you are already using a Freegle site to give things away why is it a problem if someone circumvents the process and actively ask for something they need.....
Because it's BEGGING, can't you see, do you condone beggars, in the street, probably and hopefully not so why would you condone it on the NET?
There is no place for Beggars in the 21st Century whether it is on the street or on the internet. So if you are a moderator of a Freegle site, please remove the beggars immediately.