Analyzing The Ice Bucket Challenge

Pop Culture

A few days ago I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge that’s pretty much overtaken social media in recent weeks. In (the very unlikely) case you didn’t know, the ice bucket challenge is basically a viral fundraising campaign in which people dump water over their heads to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a rare neurodegenerative disease that essentially makes you lose control of your body. You lose the ability to touch, walk, speak, and breathe on your own. It’s a very scary prospect.

I admit, I haven’t heard about ALS until I started watching the ice bucket videos on Facebook. I can’t remember who started it, but around a month or two ago celebrities jumped on the bandwagon and really made this whole thing a phenomenon. Most people seem to be very supportive of the ice bucket challenge, but there are a lot of haters too. Personally, I’m very glad this viral fundraiser (can you call it a meme now?) exists, but I understand the criticisms against it. Judging from the comments on social media, I think the two main peeves people have against the ice bucket challenge is 1) it doesn’t actually raise much awareness for ALS and 2) it’s apparently a huge, pointless waste of clean water that should be given to dying children in Africa.

Number one is by far the more rational of the two reasons. Most of the videos on Youtube or Instagram are between 15-50 seconds long (I think). People just thank whoever nominated them, name three others to take the challenge, dump the buckets on their heads, and then scream like hyenas. So yes, very few people actually explain in detail what the problem is, and there really isn’t a connection between water-dumping and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But let’s be honest, would you actually watch the entire video if someone were to explain exactly what ALS is? That would probably take ten minutes as opposed to ten seconds, and how many of us actually watch ten-minute videos on Youtube anymore? Also, you’d probably get so depressed that you wouldn’t want to watch any more ice bucket videos. You’d probably think, “if I wanted to know more I’d look it up myself.” Besides, most celebrities (and everyone else) do include a link of the ALS webpage in their video, and that’s enough to get most people to do some research on their own. And I think that’s the whole point of the challenge: to get people interested. Even if people don’t actually know what ALS is, they know it’s incurable and devastating and they’d probably still jump on the bandwagon and donate. In the end, isn’t that what matters most? Raising enough money to find a cure? I don’t think it’s exactly a bad thing for people to donate money without knowing what for. I think it’s okay to do the right thing for the wrong reason. In this case, it’s not even the wrong reason. So what if people are still ignorant? As long as they’re helping out it’s fine.

I don’t even want to get into the second reason. Wasting water. Seriously? If you’re not donating a bucket of water to Africa every year then you have no damn right to complain about other people dumping water for a good cause. It’s not like water will magically appear in another continent if you don’t dump it over your head. Like, you don’t hear those people being so fucking compassionate every other time of the year or ever see them actually doing something to help less fortunate people. And besides, a bucket of water is only like, what, 20 seconds of a shower time? If you compare that to the amount of money this challenge has raised (62.5 million as of today), I just don’t understand the hate it’s getting. Whenever I see someone comment, “this pointless challenge has to be stopped immediately,” I just get so pissed off. Why spread negativity in something so positive?

Anyhow, that’s all I wanted to say for now. Sorry if parts of that didn’t make much sense. I’ve wanted to rant about this for a while now. Here’s the link if anyone needs it: alsa.org/donate/

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