The folly of the Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge started off this year as a means of raising awareness for the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hence, the ‘game’ is often called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

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How does it work?

A person is expected to spread awareness for ALS by dumping a bucket of ice water onto his head. Fill bucket with ice-water, throw on top of one’s head, and there! Awareness raised! Donations made! As simple as that.

During July and August of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went specially viral on online social media. Many people have participated by getting drenched in ice-cold water with the aim to promote awareness of the neurodegenerative disease.

Participants are nominated for the challenge, and they film themselves executing the challenge, to later on nominate yet others.

Another ‘rule’ of the game is that the participants have 24 hours to carry out the ice-water dumping onto their heads or to forfeit by making a charitable donation.

Financial donations to ALS-related associations

The money obtained from this is pooled into associations like the ALS Association in the US, and the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK. Some people have donated their money obtained from the challenge to many other organisations.

Origin of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Now, rational people might be asking themselves as to the link between throwing ice-water over one’s head and the neurodegenerative disorder. Truth is, there is none. Where does this idea come from then? The origin of the concept of Ice Bucket Challenge has been attributed to many sources. While some say it was a Bostonian who is behind the game, going by the name of Pete Frates, who happened to be an ALS patient, others have said that it was started by professional golfers in support of pet charities.

Great sums of money have been raised for the ALS, a success attributed to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

But, is it really worth it?

People all around the globe have taken up the challenge, with the intention to show support to the cause: funding research for ALS – groups of people have come together with one main goal. As much as this might show the solidarity of humans irrespective of nationality and race, this has also highlighted the effect of media on the crowds: people have followed the idea, almost as if without questioning it.

Let’s get dumb together!

But, is this the ideal way to make people unite for an otherwise good cause? It is true that most of us are insensitive to the suffering of others, let alone patients of rare diseases, or diseases which uncommon with little research work aiding those affected. People at large ‘need’ sensationalism for them to snap out of their self-centered zombie lives to actually begin considering others and showing empathy and care. Is throwing cold, precious water over one’s head the way to go though? If this is the reasoning of mankind, it wouldn’t be surprising to have a food-version of the ‘challenge’ in some years: “guys, let’s get together throwing and wasting food at each other to raise awareness for noble causes!”

What about the hidden message being simultaneously delivered as people are being ‘educated’ about ALS – that it is okay to follow the masses in wasting water with the aim to increasing awareness? What about those who do not even have clean drinking water supplied to their homes? Isn’t humanity intelligent enough to find methods which are both effective AND ethical AND intelligent?

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Perhaps, more mature ways of raising awareness exist out there?

People, including children, are dying of hunger and thirst, on other parts of the planet: how about raising awareness of this as well? How about, to the very least, being grateful to the resources that we are freely enjoying – water? How about behaving maturely for once, and finding effective ways of reaching out to people instead of giving away water that others would die to have just a sip of? Finding creative and productive ways to unite the people of the Earth for noble causes, without ignorant, subtle messages that go along the lines of “acknowledging the suffering of one (ALS patients) implies ignoring the suffering of another (people dying without water)” would be more of a challenge, wouldn’t it?

1 comment

  • Hibz,

    I would be all ears to any suggestion you have that would have. Instead of criticizing this event please share with us how you would go about maturely raising $150M for research for this terrible disease. I am sure if you were diagnosed you would not care how the research funding was acquired.

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