Stop pouring ice on your head

I’m tired of watching people pour ice on their heads on Facebook. By the way, if I’m challenged, I’m just not going to do it. Maybe the idea behind this ice bucket challenge was to get people such as myself to wonder why people are doing it and then discover ALS, but on the whole, I question it’s effectiveness.

If you’re utterly lost, here’s how the ice bucket challenge works in a nutshell:

  1. You get challenged. You have 24 hours to either pour ice on your head or donate $100 to ALS research. Unsurprisingly, most people are choosing the former.
  2. You shoot a video of yourself pouring a bucket of ice over your head. In the video, you challenge several other friends in the same way. Maybe you tell people about ALS or why you’re pouring a bucket of ice on your head, but if you’re like most people, you don’t.
  3. Your friends now have 24 hours to either pour ice on their heads or donate $100 to ALS research.

Got it? Good. So the purpose of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness and financial support for ALS. At least some part of that seems to be working. In general, it would appear that more people know what ALS is . . . or at least they know that the acronym refers to a disease some people want to research and that they need money to do it. If you’re like me, all you know is that ALS is the cause to which I have to give $100 if I don’t pour ice on my head. It would also seem that some amount of money has been raised as a result of this. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about raising money for a worthy cause and raising awareness about a horrible disease. Nevertheless, I think there are far better media to choose than a viral video campaign that’s utterly unrelated to the cause. I don’t question that it’s generated some money. I just think it could be doing it better. With that caveat, here are my small problems with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

It doesn’t raise awareness

The Ice Bucket Challenge has failed to raise awareness for what ALS actually is. It has only put that acronym into the vernacular of the social media savvy. Unless an individual chooses to share about why they are doing the challenge in their video, which in my experience has yet to happen, no viewer is no wiser. They simply get a funny video of their friend doing something dumb in the name of ALS, whatever that is. No one seems to know, for instance, that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, paralysis, and eventually death in its victims. No one seems to know that there is currently no cure and no way of reversing the diseases effects on the body. Hence the need for research. So, for what does the Ice Bucket Challenge raise awareness? It looks more like a bunch of people doing something stupid than rallying together to beat a disease.

It creates a coercive false dichotomy

The Ice Bucket Challenge creates a false dichotomy in which the challegee (I think I just invented a word) is forced to choose between paying $100 or dumping a bucket of ice on their head. They are coerced into “donating,” but I personally would not consider such coercion a valid means of taking “donations.” They feel forced, not given. But that’s just the problem: it’s not real. Those two options aren’t real. In truth there are a myriad of other options. I could, for instance, do both. I could do neither. I could even give more than $100. The only thing I cannot do because of this false dichotomy is choose to support the cause. By it’s nature, the Ice Bucket Challenge prevents me from feeling like I am really choosing to support ALS research. Rather, it’s depicted as a lesser of two evils. However, the alternative is also so simple that more people are choosing to simply dump ice on their heads to get “off the hook” so they will no longer be compelled to “donate”

It’s saturating my news feed

Seriously. I’m tired of seeing it. Watching people pour ice on their heads is only funny a time or two. If you really want to help ALS patients and the researchers working to cure this disease, here’s a link you’ll find useful: Donate

If you want to pour ice on head, then just do it and stop telling me about it.


4 comments on “Stop pouring ice on your head

  1. Kate says:

    This: As of Tuesday, August 19, The ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.

    But also, this: …”[W]hile $15m had been raised so far, the star power (and spending power) involved in the fundraising meant that the sum was so paltry as to be a ‘tragedy’. ….. $15m may be better than $0, but if you count the column inches and content window pixels – Bill Gates, Charlie Sheen and Dave Grohl have clocked up 20m views on YouTube – this would appear to represent a minuscule conversion rate. ”

    P.S. Do you think I’m the best commenter on your blog??

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