The Ice Bucket Challenge that happens to be something to do with ALS.
If you’ve been floating around social media over the last few weeks, you will have no doubt encountered the ‘ALS Ice bucket challenge’. It’s a craze that has seen thousands of individuals douse themselves in ice cold water in the aim of spreading awareness of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a form of motor neurone disease. The participant also nominates three other people to take the challenge or if they forfeit, they must donate $100 (I guess it’s £100 in the UK?) to the charity. It’s fairly similar to the ‘No-Makeup selfie’ trend that popped up earlier this year in aid of breast cancer awareness.
It’s achieved a high level of notoriety due to the amount of celebrities and other wealthy people taking up the challenge and posting it on their respective social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. People as wide ranging as Lady Gaga, Tom Brady, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and even George W Bush.
Among those people who took up the challenge, was Steve-O of Jackass fame. He did the challenge then promptly asked the question:
I’m all about helping causes, but did this raise any awareness at all?
Steve-O received criticism from a lot of people for his words but he tried to defend them with a statement released via Facebook which read:
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO GOT MAD AT ME FOR THIS VIDEO: Since the ice bucket challenge began, over 15 million dollars has been raised for ALS research. I think that’s great, but when you consider the countless A-list celebrities who have actively gotten behind this cause by posting videos– the fact that not more than fifteen million dollars has been raised is a tragedy. “It’s tragic because I don’t think many of those celebrities even bothered to mention how or where to donate money for ALS research. Most of them just poured water over their heads and named three random people, without including any “call to action” which actually benefits victims of ALS at all. Had all those celebrities given this cause any thought, hundreds of millions of dollars might have been raised, and a whole lot more awareness. “Let’s start a new trend– by actually letting people know how to donate– visit this page: http://www.alsa.org/donate/ I’m nowhere near as rich or famous as many of the folks you’ve seen pour water on their heads, but I cared enough to get educated and donate one thousand dollars of my hard-earned money to http://www.alsa.org/donate/
With love, Steve-O.
Steve-O has got a point. Not about what he perceives as a lack of money from celebrities. I’m not going to lecture people on how to spend their money. But I do agree there appears to be a growing disconnect between the Ice bucket challenge and the charity of which it is benefiting, the ALS Association. There have been some people that seem to have gotten it right. Tom Hiddleston mentioned the cause and gave viewers a call to action before doing the challenge. But some other celebrities such as Lena Dunham, Anna Kendrick (who I thought could do no wrong!) and Dwayne Johnson seemed to forget to mention anything about the ALS Association. And NO, a measly #ALS hash tag does not suffice, especially when it’s jumbled in amongst a bunch of other random hash tags. Even Charlie Sheen got it right. Albeit in the only way Charlie Sheen knows how: arrogant and provocative against his former Two and A Half Men colleagues. To me, the people who make no mention of the association, are not people giving up their time for a good cause. They’re just idiots who seem to have taken upon a random dare for celebrity exposure and to make themselves look good to their fans.
I’m not criticizing the people who have undertaken this challenge. I understand that since this went viral, the ALS association has received a humongous amount of donations compared to previous months and that’s great to see. Same goes for any other charity that benefits from the blowing up of a social trend. But the problem with these stunts and hash tags is that the original intention is becoming lost or is used as an excuse to look good on their social media profiles. “Why donate money to cancer research when I can use the hash tag #stopcancer and look good to my followers?” or “Why donate money to ALS when I can pour water on my head, look good to my friends as well as look like a zany individual who is totally somebody you should hang out with.”. Since this trend has made it’s way across the Atlantic to the UK, I have noticed that a lot of the people doing it are not mentioning ALS. I think that’s largely down to the fact that many celebrities have failed to mention it in their popular videos.
If you are yet to do the ice bucket challenge and do get nominated to undertake it. I urge you to make sure you prominently mention the ALS association and make sure that it helps spread the word about it’s cause.
Unfortunately, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is losing it’s identity as a legitimate gesture of goodwill towards a charitable organisation with an aim of funding research to help prevent/cure a horrible disease. It is now becoming a social media trend that is just an excuse to act like an idiot.