The Real #IceBucketChallenge

For weeks now, I have watched as family members, friends, college acquaintances, and even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg himself have doused themselves with buckets of ice and frigid water, all in the name of ALS. These videos have popped up like dandelions in springtime, gradually taking over the yard that is my news feed. Now, I don’t mind dandelions. They give you something to blow a wish on, outside of the candles on your birthday cake.

However, what I see in these videos are wishes blown up into the sky without any tangible change, though sources like USA Today claim the challenge is “flooding” ALSA with donations. I have my own questions though…How many people, after dumping ice over their heads, took the time to learn about ALS? How many people, after momentarily freezing, chose to take on the challenge of donating to ALSA as well? If you are one of the people who has taken steps beyond the #IceBucketChallenge itself, I commend you, and I urge you to encourage others to do the same.

What makes the #IceBucketChallenge so successful?

  • Ease & efficiency: This challenge takes no more than 30 seconds once you’ve decided to do it, and most everyone with access to the internet also has access to a container, ice & water, and a phone camera.
  • Peer pressure: Were this a movement pushed by ALSA, we might not feel so motivated. Akin to the early 2000’s chain letters, an “or else”-type demand holds more significant value when sent by our friends and publicly advertised on our personal social media pages.
  • #Hashtag: Hashtags have proven instrumental in spreading the word about, quite literally, anything from the all-important #FirstWorldProblems, to John Oliver’s successful, save-the-space-animals cry with #GoGetThoseGeckos. Let’s face it: hashtags are catchy. If everyone’s doing it and saying it, we want to join in too.
  • Visual entertainment: Solely text-based posts are not as eye-catching as those with pictures or videos. Now, add in the fact that people dumping ice on themselves can trigger any number of amusing reactions, and we can’t help but watch, laugh, and take on the challenge ourselves. Trust me, I’ve been LOLing a lot at my friends’ expense of late.

Why now? What now?

Last night, I received a g-chat message:

Check Facebook 🙂

My response? “NOOOOOOOOOO!” I knew, even before I checked my Facebook notifications that my brother, Ryan, and his wife, Emily, had completed their own ice adventure last night and had challenged me to do the same, or donate $100 to ALSA.

Though all these videos have been sprouting up in my news feed for weeks, I realized I still knew nothing about ALS. Beyond that, I was not in a position to part with $100, regardless of the goodness of the cause. I decided to do something else about it.

I will not be dumping ice on my head today.

I will not be donating $100 to ALSA.

I will be learning about ALS, and you readers can learn along with me.

What You Need To Know:

  • ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a disease commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
  • ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain, muscles, and spine.
  • The average life expectancy of those diagnosed with ALS is 2 to 5 years after the onset of the disease.
  • There is no known cure for the disease, though there is a drug, Riluzole, which can prolong the lives of those who are diagnosed.

*Facts courtesy of alsa.org

I’d like to thank my brother and my sister-in-law for nominating me for the #IceBucketChallenge. I nominate all citizens of the Internet to do your parts as well. Now that you know something about ALS, do something about it. If you feel so inclined, dump ice over yourself, but while you’re filming your video, share a fact you learned about ALS. If you have money to spare, donate $100, or $20, or $5. Whatever you can donate does make a difference. If you’ve just seen another video crop up in your news feed, talk about it. Read about it. Write about it. Post about it. I will not cap this challenge at 24 hours. In fact, I urge you to go read something now. NOW. Google it: ALS. The most important thing we can do is educate ourselves, educate others, and take decisive action based on a well-informed conscience.

Critics, like Ben Kosinski from the Huffington Post, are labeling the #IceBucketChallenge as a “slacktivism” movement. To tell you the truth, right now it is. But I also think it can become something more, and we who are challenged are responsible for making the movement a significant statement rather than just a trending topic. As of now, the #IceBucketChallenge solely allows us to see the tip of a large and lethal iceberg. So take a chance, truly dive in, and see what lies beneath this challenge for yourself.

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