For the last few days, there’s been much ado is social media circles about Jonathan’s Card, a social experiment that was basically a take a penny, leave a penny bowl writ large.
Backstory: Jonathan Stark loaded money on his Starbucks card (some sources say $65, some $100, some $300) and then posted its barcode on the internet, informing people that they were free to use the card to buy drinks and to put more money on the card. He wanted to see how people would behave when there was no accounting for their behavior. Would all the money be gone in 5 minutes or would it grow and last and become some sort of big, feel good thing. Kind of like “If I Could Buy the World a Coke”, but with Starbucks.
The forces of good won out and Jonathan’s Card became a smashing success. All told, people loaded over $8,700 on it, spending most of it. Generally, the balance continued to grow.
But, of course something that good, and cool, and headline grabbing couldn’t last all that long. Enter Sam Odio, a general self-promoter and, according to Mashable, “serial entrepreneur”. Instead of using Jonathan’s Card to buy himself a drink, Sam transferred $625 off of it to his own Starbucks card and listed in on eBay, writing a blog post called “How to use Jonathan’s card to buy yourself an iPad”. (My initial reaction to this: Sam is an ass.) Sam’s blog post went on to justify that, while he could use the money to buy an iPad, he was actually going to donate it to Save the Children.
Sam justified his actions by saying that Jonathan’s Card was “yuppies buying yuppies coffees”. But you know what? I’m a yuppie (young – check, urban – check, professional – check), and there’s nothing wrong with you buying me coffee. Sure, it’s not going to save the world, but it’s not going to hurt it either; all it will do is brighten my day a bit – and that’s not a bad thing.
Jonathan’s blog now features a pretty lengthy defense of his actions saying:
I do believe that we make hard choices every day, and by buying coffee we’re inherently making a choice not to spend that money on other causes. My goal in this experiment was to highlight the nature of that hard choice.
I guess, sure. But really, he wasn’t making a choice to spend his own money on Save the Children. He was taking the money that other people had chosen to spend on coffee, justifying his action by saying that his choice was a more correct choice than theirs. (My reaction: yep, he’s an ass.)
So, what happened in the end of all this? (Other than yuppies buying yuppies coffee?) Sam has a $500 Starbucks card list on eBay. Current the bid is $510. You can go buy it if you want.
Who were the big winners in all this? Both Jonathan and Sam – they got all of the press and web traffic that they could want. (And I’m pretty sure that’s what they both wanted the whole time.) They both got their 15 minutes of web fame and drew attention to the projects/start-ups on which they’re currently working. Starbucks won, because they got all this free press, and over $8,700. And Save the Children may win, too – if Sam really follows through on making the donation.
Who lost? Me. Nobody bought this yuppie coffee. Sad…
(I know that this post wasn’t as full of links as they normally, but I really didn’t want to feed into Sam’s web traffic spike. If you’re interested to read more about this, or want to get the links to Jonathan and Sam’s sites, visit Mashable’s “Starbucks Card Social Experiment Hacked by Entrepreneur”.)
Questions of the day: Is Sam an ass? What’s wrong with yuppies buying yuppies coffee? Do you want to buy me coffee. (Please?)
MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.