Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, $50M has been given to ALS research in the time it took to raise $2M last year
I have to admit: When people first started doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, which if you’ve been living under a rock involves dousing yourself in cold water to avoid donating $100 to ALS research, I was pretty annoyed by it. You mean to say people would rather post a narcissistic selfie video to Facebook than donate money to charity? It sounded like everything wrong with social media activism in a nutshell. Plus it was a bit annoying to see my Facebook feed full of people dumping water on themselves instead of, say, updates about any number of important news stories from this month, like the Ferguson shooting, ISIS’ brutal campaign in Iraq, and the conflict in Gaza.
But as the Challenge continued to spread like wildfire across Facebook, it evolved so that participants who dumped water on themselves were expected to donate $10 to the ALS Association. And while it’s still attracting a great deal of mockery from Internet snarksters, it’s time to stop worrying and love the Ice Bucket Challenge — because since July 29, it has helped the ALS Association raise $53 million. For comparison, the group only raised $2.2 million in the same period last year. That is nuts.
So this isn’t just some empty social media gesture like KONY 2012 after all. The Challenge has found a way to turn the Internet’s narcissism, which usually only leads to selfies and lifecasting, into a record-breaking windfall to help fight a deadly disease with no cure that is diagnosed to over 5,000 Americans every year.
As Jennifer Hicks writes at the Huffington Post, “Would you heckle people who walk at Relay for Life? Would you taunt a group having a car wash to raise money for a battered women’s shelter?”
Of course not. And in many ways, the snark directed at the Challenge is as much a form of self-absorption and attention-getting as the Challenge itself. The only difference? Snark doesn’t raise over $50 million in less than a month.
Also it gives us a chance to watch Mitt Romney say, “Get wet.”