The latest craze to take the internet by storm – our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds have been inundated with sodden, screaming people soaking themselves with icy water – what a way to fundraise! The amount of people (including some high-profile celebrities; David Beckham, Eminem, Jennifer Anniston, to name but a few) who have got involved and donated has been truly astonishing. This really highlights how social media can be used in a fantastic way to fundraise and raise awareness about crucial issues. The Ice Bucket Challenge has been around since 2013, the origins are actually unclear but it can be traced back to Northern United States. The task usually involves the option of either donating money to a cancer research charity or having to jump into cold water. But it seems that ALS fundraisers have adopted the craze, and the money raised so far has been incredible. But with so many people getting involved, how many really know what ALS is and what they are really donating for?
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rare neurological disease with various causes. ALS is characterised by muscle spasticity and rapid progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy resulting then in difficulty speaking and swallowing and breathing. In fact ALS is the most common form of motor neurone disease. I find it truly amazing how this internet craze has raised he profile of this disease to another level, skyrocketing their donations to a level researchers could never have dreamed of. But is the ice bucket challenge really the best way to go about this?
I was recently shown a YouTube video of a very young child doing the Ice Bucket Challenge (what were the parents thinking?) and then the child swearing. I didn’t find this funny. It just sends out the wrong message. Seeing the vulgarity of this toddler’s language and the unconcerned response from the parents filming it just caused me concern over this child’s welfare. Normally I would include the video clip in the blog, but I don’t want to give this clip any unwarranted exposure. If you have seen it then I’m sure you will understand my complete disgust.
The Independent has also recently found that over half of Brits polled didn’t actually donate to ALS after posting their Ice Bucket Challenge online. This just suggests that the challenge itself is losing it’s way and is becoming just another way for people to gain attention online and boost their popularity and ‘cool’ factor – that’s not what this challenge was meant to be about.
I’m sure many of you will have also seen posts online voicing concerns about how the donated money is actually being used and whether or not the ‘text-in’ system is actually causing the charity to lose out. This suggests more research needs to be done into the realities of this charity venture, and I would advice people to really consider all the facts before jumping on the latest Internet bandwagon.
But the facts can’t be denied. The Ice Bucket Challenge has created a tidal wave of donations for a fantastic cause and regardless of the shadier aspects of this particular challenge, more money and awareness is a fantastic thing! The craze shows how we can come together as a society to do something brilliant and I would love to see more of this in the future for a wide range of under-publicised diseases.
If you would like to donate to ALS but don’t fancy the Ice Bucket Challenge, then you can donate directly to the US ALS Association: https://secure2.convio.net/alsa/site/Donation2?df_id=27420&27420.donation=form1