Sometimes, it pays to talk.
An articulate young New Yorker by the name of Vidal learned this last month when he made big bucks after speaking to the photographer from the immensely popular "Humans of New York" photo blog.
The blog's author, Brandon Stanton, posted a picture of the middle school student explaining why he admires his principal on January 19.
This spiraled into a two week-long blog series on Vidal's school (the grandly named Mott Hall Bridges Academy) in an under-resourced Brooklyn neighborhood, a spot on Ellen... oh, and more than 1.2 million dollars in donations to the school.
Surprised? Don't be.
Mott Hall Bridges Academy's windfall is just the most-dramatic example of a growing trend: turning internet compassion into cash.
Already this month, hundreds of individuals donated a total of more than $200,000 to buy a Detroit man a car, after his story of walking 21 miles to work went viral. GoFundMe and other crowdfunding websites offer dozens more such examples.
Hard to say. Most crowd-funded projects appeal to donors' compassion through individual stories. While Mott Hall Bridges Academy can clearly use a million dollars, so many other inner-city schools. Can individual spend their funds effectively to create long-term change?
Then again, maybe maximum efficiency isn't the only goal. Recent events have proven that the internet can spark neighborly compassion between people who will never meet.
Just ask Vidal.