As you may have seen on my Facebook page, I believe in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The idea, as I understand it, is simple: your friends challenge you, and you have a choice: donate $10 to the ALS Association and also dump a bucket of ice water over your head, or donate $100 and get to keep your current hairdo.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been sweeping the nation, and more or less putting the “fun” back in “fundraiser.” I like that. However, in the last few days I’ve been seeing a lot of backlash over the whole thing. I usually stay out of these debates, but this time I’d like to weigh in.
First, to the naysayers, let’s all calm the hell down. It’s ridiculous to get self-righteous about a brief viral internet anything, but still allow the Kardashians to have a media empire. Perspective, guys. I understand the concern that people should just donate the money instead of showing off, but the truth is that we’ve all had the chance to “just donate the money” for ages. Last year during a similar time period the ALS collected 1.9 million dollars. As of today, they’ve gotten more than $22 million. Just drink that in for a second: Nearly twelve times what they made last year, and a whole lot more people are now aware of ALS. The difference is the ice bucket challenge.
No, I don’t think people should do the challenge without knowing what ALS is all about, but I’ve seen no evidence that that’s happening. If people are stupid enough to dump icewater on their heads without understanding why, I don’t see that as a problem so much as idiots being dumb again. If you’re afraid people aren’t appreciating the disease’s real impact, here’s a fantastic blog post by Bo Stern, the spouse of an ASL patient, who offers some great ideas for sympathetic activities you could do along with your ice bucket challenge. I highly recommend reading that blog.
Also? Lighten up. Yes, okay, maybe the Ice Bucket Challenge is furthering America’s narcissism, but I’d like to remind you that that embarrassing oneself for money is a time-honored American tradition. (Just look at the Kardashians.) If I had $10,000 to donate to charity like Charlie Sheen, I’d still dump the bucket of water over my head, because then someone might see it, laugh, and think, “I mean, I could throw in a few bucks too.” I don’t have ten thousand dollars, but I do have a dryer and a five-year-old cameraman. If I can put those to good use for charity, I just don’t see the harm.
Third, and this is really important: please bear in mind that WE WERE GOING TO GOOF OFF ON THE INTERNET ANYWAY. Nobody was leading a happy, productive, well-rounded life free of Facebook until the Ice Bucket Challenge came along and turned us all into douchbag self-congratulatory assholes. We were already goofing off on Facebook; it’s just that someone had the brilliant idea to turn social media, summer weather, and the need to water your garden into cash for a very under-funded charity. It’s fun. It helps people. It leads to amusing internet videos. This is a win-win, guys. If you don’t like it, I suggest you don’t click the big triangle in the middle of the videos labeled “Ice Bucket Challenge.” And there, I’ve solved your problem.
As for me, well, in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I did take the Ice Bucket Challenge, after being called out by my friend Alex Bledsoe. It was fun, and it inspired me to learn more about ALS. If that sounds inappropriate or narcissistic to you, by all means don’t watch. Maybe just quietly donate $10 without telling anyone. That’ll show me.