Internet gets heated over ALS ‘Ice’
If you scrolled through your social media feed this summer, surely you bore witness videos of family, friends and former classmates participating in the online fundraising phenomenon that has become known as the Ice Bucket Challenge. Peter Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, started the fundraiser. The challenge is simple: Donate $100 to The ALS Foundation or pour a bucket of ice water over yourself within the next 24 hours. The Ice Bucket Challenge is considered one of the most successful fundraisers in history. But despite its success, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been met with as much criticism as applause.
Some critics charged that the challenge represented a new age of social activism, or “slacktivism,” as an effortless and easy way out of taking initiative to support a cause. We also question the intentions of those who participated in the challenge. As time pushes us into a world where social media users have become obsessed with attention and validating their self-worth through likes and views, there is concern that many participants of the Ice Bucket Challenge were merely doing it in their own interests. These suspicions arise when we see videos of people carrying out the challenge in skimpy bikinis or flexing their muscles while their shirtless friends pour a bucket of ice water over their heads.
Some felt peer-pressured into participating in the challenge. Many expressed feeling obligated to donate or accept the challenge in fear of being publicly ridiculed by their nominator on social media. Perhaps being forced into donating took away from the integrity or genuineness of their good deed. According to the ALS Association’s website, as of Sept. 2, the Ice Bucket Challenge garnered over $106 million in donations. This is an impressive amount that is due to various donations made by average Joes and celebrities alike. However, with over 2.4 million ice bucket-related videos posted on Facebook, according to BBC, the amount of money that could have be raised that wasn’t — thanks to those who chose to pour ice water over their head instead of donate to the cause — as significant.
The positives aspects of the challenge definitely outweigh the negatives. The amount of awareness raised is reassuring and the communal effort to raise money for a good cause is outstanding. Not to mention seeing a huge number of young Internet users endorsing and participating in a positive activity speaks volumes of the progressive changes occurring for our generation. The reason the Ice Bucket Challenge has been under so much scrutiny is because we as a society enjoy picking things apart. The fact that we have so much access to the Internet only makes it easier for us to complain and criticize things. We find it difficult to criticize the Ice Bucket Challenge when we have seen numerous victims of ALS post videos doing the challenge themselves and expressing their support.
The ALS challenge has raised a significant amount of awareness and has educated many people who have never heard of the disease. Regardless of what the Ice Bucket Challenge has become, people who genuinely care about the cause started it, and we applaud them for their success. Having an online fundraiser like the Ice Bucket Challenge is a great way to spread awareness, raise money and inspire change in a world where communication can make charity as effortless as clicking a button.