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Hope for the debt-ridden

Imagine buying Gucci purses, Prada pumps and spending nights in New York City living it up. Imagine you lose your job but not your appetite for the “good life.” Why stop partying just because you have no incoming paycheck when you have plenty of plastic money, right? Perhaps you had great credit and now have six credit cards with large limits to prove it. But what do you do when your spending gets so out of hand that you max all six cards and are left with intermittent work and a $20,000 credit debt to pay?

If you’re Karyn of, you take your plea to the masses and ask them to pay it off – one dollar at a time.

It is true. Whether she’s thought of as a genius or a charlatan, people all over the world are sending Karyn money and free products to help her eliminate her ridiculous debt.

Karyn, according to her Web site, is in her Upper-20s and lives in New York. She sells herself as “really nice” and insists that ” … if you have an extra buck or two, please send it my way! Together, we can banish credit card debt from my life!” She gets very excited and uses her exclamation points quite generously throughout the site.

The issue here isn’t so much that she has the debt or even the chutzpah to ask everyone to pay for it (she claims that by voluntarily paying her and buying her stuff on e-Bay that she is able to keep from filing for bankruptcy, therefore saving taxpayer money in the long run), but that people are actually sending her money. And lots of it.

Karyn began her site in late June. Since then, visitors to her site have given her at least $9,767.97. With donations like that, I begin to think I have hope after college as a loveable panhandler, which is little more than what Karyn really is. This is a woman with little claim to responsibility, but because she is willing to sacrifice her pride, she is making out like a veritable bandit.

The Internet has proven itself a useful tool for advertising, but perhaps Karyn is a genius for tapping into the collective sympathies of the world. She posts emails from people all around the world who think she is funny, stupid, courageous and irresponsible. Many ask that she earn her money by posting nude pictures of herself on the site in exchange for a few dollars. She has several times declined but asks politely the inquirer please send a dollar her way, regardless. Shameless.

Perhaps there is a reason for Karyn’s crusade that can transcend her sophomoric display of public relations savvy – if you can’t market talent, you can’t pay your bills and you have no pride, sell yourself online as a pity prostitute. After all, if a young New York socialite with a taste for Gucci can rake in $10,000 from absolute strangers after two and a half months of shameless self-promotion, then there may just be hope for all other slackers who don’t want to pay their own way. If in any doubt, they will crawl out of the woodwork, pay a visit to and prepare to be even further … impressed by what people will do to get a free ride on your dollar.

Michelle Demeter an associate editor for The Oracle.