My Thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge

Oh, the ice bucket challenge. Also known as an opportunity for people to get likes on Facebook for showing how “charitable” they are. I’m sick of it, and I want to talk today about why I’m sick of it.

Before I delve into my latest irritant, let me first say that I know what the ALS ice bucket challenge was intended to be. It was meant to raise awareness about the disease (great) and to raise money for the ALS Association (awesome). I know that a lot of awareness and money is being raised, and that’s not what bothers me. *If you have done the challenge and have donated to the ALS foundation, then this post is not meant to criticize you or make you feel bad, so please don’t yell at me in the comments. If you have done the challenge and have not donated, this post is meant to criticize you and make you feel bad. Sorry.*

I’m annoyed that the challenge, regardless of how it was originally phrased, has largely turned into a threat: “Do the challenge within twenty-four hours OR you have to donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.” I have seen so many derivatives of this on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. If this is your mindset, then you are NOT being charitable. You’re doing the ice bucket challenge so that you don’t have to donate. That is the opposite of charity. That is greed, and you shouldn’t get attention for your greed.

I want to know how many people doing this challenge actually know what ALS is. For those of you who don’t know, it is a motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gherig’s disease. You can read more about it here. I highly doubt that a lot of people (at least the people I’m Facebook friends with) actually care about ALS and the people who suffer from it. I’m pretty sure that they just want attention for dumping water on themselves. Not cool.

A lot of people doing the challenge aren’t even talking about AlS when they do it; thus, they are not “raising awareness”. This challenge has just become something cool to do, and that’s annoying.

This challenge raises a question about intent for me. I’ve expressed my irritation at the motives of the people participating in the challenge. I’m upset because I don’t think that they are truly being charitable (and I’ll admit I actually don’t know what it means to be truly charitable. Ideas?). If word about the disease is getting out somehow, even if the way is ridiculous, then isn’t that the most important thing? Maybe.

I personally think that if you’re going to give to a charity, you should just do it and not make a big deal about it. And you shouldn’t exploit an organizations attempts to raise awareness by just pouring ice water over yourself in your bikini and not even mentioning the organization. We don’t make decisions in a vacuum, and I think that it’s important to consider the context in which your charitable decision is being made.

I know I’m not going to end the ice bucket challenge. I just want people to think about why they’re being “charitable.” Is it because you want to raise awareness and donate money, or is it because you just want to do what everyone else is doing, even if you’re not sure why they’re doing it? There are so many other issues in the world right now, and they are not getting the attention and funding they deserve.

To close, I am NOT against the ALSA. I think it’s great that awareness is being raised. I think it’s unfortunate that it seems awareness can only be raised through participating in stupid challenges. (Maybe the people in Ferguson should start some kind of challenge.)

For those who suffer from ALS, or have family members or friends who suffer from ALS, I’m sorry, and I’m glad that this disease is getting attention and that the association is getting funding. For those of you participating in the challenge, do some critical thinking before you dump water on yourself.

Thank you and good night!

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