Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has gone viral over the past few weeks. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—or as many social media users know it, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, is a new trend where people take a bucket of ice water, dump it over their heads, record it and post the video on social media in order to raise awareness for the neurodegenerative illness ALS. The fundraising phenomenon asks those willing to douse themselves to challenge others to do the same within 24 hours. If they don’t, they must donate at least a $100 to The ALS Foundation. Each person who participates nominates more friends to do it, hence helping the trend to escalate.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS often begins with muscle twitching and weakness in an arm or leg, or sometimes with slurring of speech. Eventually, ALS can affect your ability to control the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe. ALS can’t be cured and eventually leads to death.
Dousing For a Good Cause
The trend started when Pete Frates, the former captain of Boston College’s baseball team was diagnosed with the disease, and dared a few people to try it, all in the name of raising awareness of the debilitating disease. Since then, thousands of people have taken the challenge, including all major celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and many more. The only shame is the challenge is in the middle of the northern hemisphere summer. It would have been interesting to see if any of these celebs would have been this eager to accept the challenge in the middle of winter.
It’s not all About Numbers- Or is it?
Thanks to the hundreds of celebrity videos, and the million-plus less well-known ones, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raised $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18). These donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to The Association.
“It’s just been wonderful visibility for the ALS community,” The ALS Association’s national president, Barbara Newhouse said, “It is absolutely awesome. It’s crazy, but it’s awesome and it’s working.”
However, there’s been a backlash about the challenge’s perceived “slacktivism” — that if people actually intend to make a difference rather than show off for the social media, they could just donate the money straight to the association. Vice’s Arielle Pardes is emblematic: “It’s like a game of Would-You-Rather involving the entire internet where, appallingly, most Americans would rather dump ice water on their head than donate to charity. There are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but the most annoying part is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism.” However, the challenge’s success, whether due to narcissism, its goofy nature, or grassroots appeal, is inarguable.
Following the trend
It’s not just the Americans who have been participating in this challenge, millions of people from all over the world have drenched themselves for this cause. Saudi Arabia is no exception- we came across a video uploaded by the show Tech Pills, produced by Uturn Entertainment, taking this challenge and later nominating Uturn’s CEO Kaswar AlKhatib and much to our amusement, Prince Waleed bin Talal as well. We at The Social Clinic have decided to jump on the social bandwagon as well; however, instead of donating to the ALS Foundation, we are choosing to not only do the challenge but also donate to a local organization called “Help Center” that is a philanthropic non-governmental and non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of persons with intellectual disabilities, from as early as birth to young adulthood and beyond. Stay tuned for our upcoming video featuring the Founder of The Social Clinic, Bilal Hallab, taking the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.