As you are certainly well aware, the hot new craze to sweep the nation this summer was to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. As I write this in early September, I am also certain that you are possibly sick of hearing about this phenomenon, and may have disagreed with the concept in the first place. While the “rules” have varied, the general idea is that a person who does not pour water on themselves must pay for the privilege, while those who do either pay less or nothing at all. This has led to criticisms of “slacktivism,” as the sidelong glance of the child in this meme perhaps says it best.
These criticisms bring up valid points, and others have written far more eloquent apologetics and critiques than this. However, my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is this: the ice bucket challenge is just kind of nice.
For one obvious thing, it has raised $112 million dollars (so far) for ALS research since late July. So, there’s that. This money is being donated by participants in the trend, regardless of their particular role as iced or non-iced. I also suspect that the person willing to participate with a video is also likely to participate with a donation of some size, as many videos I have seen have indicated.
Another criticism that has been raised is the fact that the challenge may be drawing donations away from other worthy causes. However, I noticed that many of the videos by my friends mentioned other causes as well, and posted links to make donations to those organizations. Even the meme above directs viewers to donate to Water.org. And the success of the challenge serves as not only a way to raise funds tor ALS, but an inspiration to think of other means (call them gimmicks if you must) to raise funds for other causes.
For over three years, my sister-in-law has been living with Myasthenia Gravis, a little-understood condition in great need of funds to support research. As the Ice Bucket Challenge started taking off, Jason and I noted how wonderful it would be if someone could come up with just such an idea to raise money for MG. After all, anything that gets people thinking creatively and excitedly about supporting medical research can’t be an entirely bad thing. If these things are happening, via a massive network consisting of smaller networks of family and friends, even the trendiness and small element of narcissism involved don’t negate the good that it is accomplishing. The Challenge is not perfect, but I will stick with the mild assessment that it is, indeed, kind of nice.
For us, the Challenge also ultimately served as an excuse to make a fun video. I went from jadedly thinking that I wouldn’t do the challenge at all (even if someone did ask me), to sullenly wondering why no one had yet invited me to join in, to finally being nominated and feeling rather conflicted, to stalling and absolutely breaking the 24-hour rule, to deciding I would do it à la Carrie at the prom (thanks to a suggestion from my mother-in-law and Jason’s assurance that he would repeatedly say “they’re all going to laugh at you” over and over), to being extremely annoyed that Dave Grohl got around to it first, to deciding late one night to do it as a silent film (and subsequently subjecting my husband to all the hard work of filming and editing). I hope it makes you smile and consider donating to and/or dreaming up some new way to help a worthy cause of your choice. We suggest the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation.