I Wish D.C.’s ‘I Hid the Cash’ Would Stop Hiding the Cash

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via @jacklc98.

Anonymous Twitter user @IHidTheCash has been leaving envelopes stuffed with money around D.C. and Baltimore and tweeting clues to their whereabouts. And I wish he would stop. Or at least, I wish he would stop framing his peculiar pastime as generosity.

It’s not that the payouts are low, usually $20 or $25. It’s that each drop is orchestrated as a contest that many enter and only one wins. The Twitter profile reads:

“I give clues, you find the cash. Generous with my money. Successful early in my career. Money doesn’t mean happiness, generosity does. DO GREAT! DC/Baltimore!”

But the following might be more accurate: “I give clues, you find the cash. I run a scavenger hunt with my money. Successful early in my career. Money doesn’t mean happiness, scavenger hunts do. DO GREAT! DC/Baltimore!”

I don’t know what this person does besides the envelope game. For all I know, he could be anonymously donating incredible sums of money to worthy causes. But this Twitter thing, by itself, smacks more of self-aggrandizement than self-sacrifice.

When @IHidTheCash started out back in the spring (inspired by a similar San Francisco phenomenon), he told the Washington Post how he got his wealth: “I worked for it. … When you work hard and are successful, it’s a win. So, I always say I won it.” He always says he won it except when he says he “worked hard” for it.

The control that he exerts over people’s attention is a little distasteful as well, tweeting that “clues could happen anytime over the next several days!” and teasing out information to the media:

Yesterday, the hunt was conducted solely online. Contestants had to follow a series of 15 “clues” in the form of tweets over  z 45-minute period. They were given trivia questions and instructed to tweet at specific accounts using certain hashtags. An hour-and-a-half later, the following tweet was posted:  

So what did we get? Thousands of people following clue after clue and tweeting at whatever celebrity account they were told to… and no cash at all. Generosity should come with less manipulation and less fanfare. And, yes, some amount of money should actually change hands.

Maybe most of these people were not that put out. Maybe they just enjoyed the thrill of playing along. Judging by the replies that @IHidTheCash’s tweets receive, even the losers are psyched about the whole enterprise. So, far be it from me to stand between a DIY game show and its eager contestants. But let’s call it what it is.

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