It has been a volatile past couple of weeks on social media lately, with the Israel-Gaza conflict and the Ferguson Missouri shooting. Oddly enough though, my casual observations have led me to believe that the hottest button issue on the web right now, is the Ice Bucket Challenge.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a social media meme in which you video tape yourself dumping a bucket of ice-water on yourself. Then, in your video, you challenge three other people to either do the same thing, or donate money to a charity. The charity being linked to the Ice Bucket Challenge is ALS Association, with the purpose of funding research to find a cure for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This may not be 100% spot on, but this is the gist of it.
I’m not going to rip on the Ice Bucket Challenge, or start condemning the people who oppose it for water conservation reasons. What fascinates me is how worked up everyone has got about this issue, regardless of their stance on the subject. What seems like such a seemingly benign and oh-so-typically-cliché internet meme has turned out to be anything but cliché. The amount of hype surrounding this issue, and the amount of tension and heated arguments arising out of it are astonishing. There are several warring factions.
Faction 1: The Water Whiners
When the Ice Bucket Challenge first started, it was most popular on the East Coast and in the South. As it spread across the US, it finally made its’ way to the West coast, and more specifically California which is going through a huge drought at the moment. This prompted some people to rally against Californians doing the Ice Bucket Challenge as it was considered a waste of water at a time when our water supply was already dangerously low. These people weren’t necessarily against fundraising or spreading awareness about ALS, but against the wasting of the water.
Faction 2: The Three Bucketeers
This resulted in backlash from people who support the Ice Bucket Challenge, and dispel the water-related criticisms as baseless. Their counter argument is that compared to the amount of water people waste every day showering, cleaning dishes, watering lawns, or washing cars, the one-time use of 2-3 gallons of water is a drop in the bucket, no pun intended. This group will provide you with an onslaught of news articles and Wikipedia links confirming the Ice Bucket Challenge is the brainchild of Jesus and Gandhi’s joint efforts to stop the apocalypse.
Faction 3: The Like Bucket Challenge
Then of course you have the politically untangled. For this group, it’s not about finding a cure for ALS or conserving water. Their goal however is to spread awareness… of themselves. These attention whores will accept your challenge if it means they don’t have to donate anything. But they will altruistically donate a video of themselves to the internet. Just don’t forget to ‘Like’ their video, or they’ll keep re-posting it. You’re welcome, Facebook.
Faction 4: The Cheapskates
Probably notorious bad tippers amongst friends and family, this faction just didn’t want to donate, so they did the Ice Bucket Challenge instead.
This is a very simplified overview of the situation, and I will simplify things even more. Regardless of what your stance is on the “issue”, let us please get a few things straight:
Is the Ice Bucket Challenge a waste of perfectly good water? Yeah, if you’re in California.
Is it a huge waste of water and worth worrying about? No, it’s pretty harmless.
Is the Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness about ALS? Yes.
Could the Ice Bucket Challenge be considered a success, in that it raised a ton of money that will go towards research for an ALS cure? Absolutely. This years’ donations have dwarfed previous years contributions.
So despite the waste of water, was it worth it? I’d say so.
Are tons of people using the Ice Bucket Challenge because they are attention whores looking to get shares and likes on social media websites? Duh.
So the truth is that no one is really wrong. It could be considered a waste of water, but the vast majority of people seem to be okay with wasting a liiiitttle bit of water because hey, it’s for a good cause. Find me a fundraiser that didn’t chop down a tree or two printing out fliers for their latest canned-goods drive. Find me a marathon that didn’t litter the host city’s streets in Dixie cups, PowerBar wrappers and human excrement. No, seriously. Find me a Raiders game where a fan of the opposing team didn’t get stabbed in the parking lot.
Basically, we’re all willing to trash things up a little bit if we feel that the net outcome is for a good cause.
Congrats to the ALS Association for raising a ton of money, and let’s hope that it is money well spent. Cheers to the people who donated money to ALS or other notable causes. A pat on the back to people who legitimately did the Ice Bucket Challenge to spread awareness of ALS. Thank you, to the conservationists for spreading awareness of another legitimate concern. And to attention whores who did it just for five minutes of fame, may your Ice Bucket Challenge whorish ways get you pneumonia.