Silly Internet dares are nothing new – my kids have been doing them for years. So when I first heard about the ice bucket challenge and witnessed my 11-year-old daughter and her friends filming themselves shrieking as freezing cold water was dumped over their heads, I thought nothing of it. And then I saw a video of Oprah Winfrey participating and figured this latest craze must be different.
It was. It turned out to be part of a brilliant fundraising campaign for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) with countless famous and not so famous folks all over North America and the United Kingdom participating as well.
Since the father of one of my good friends has this deadly, incurable disease, I immediately wanted to know what he and others afflicted with ALS thought of this marketing fad. If they liked it, there was a good chance I would too.
And then I got to thinking, what wouldn’t they like about it? Because of all these goofy videos, their little known disease was suddenly thrust into the spotlight and being discussed on a mass level like never before. And as boring and repetitive as the clips can be to watch and hear about, they’re also helping to raise an unprecedented amount of cash for the non-profit organization.
Yet I keep hearing moans and groans from people who don’t like it at all, or even hate it with a passion.
Some complain about the people posting videos who aren’t reaching for their wallets. Others grumble there are more worthy causes to donate money and attention to. People doing the videos have been accused of being shameless self-promoters who don’t care about the cause at all. And, among many other gripes, there’s a strong objection to the water that’s being wasted.
It’s true some people are posting videos and not donating money, but that doesn’t mean they’re not assisting with the awareness portion of the campaign. And with all the charities there are in the world, it’s entirely subjective which ones are most deserving.
It’s also not possible to know the motive behind each person’s video. Some could be doing it out of compassion while others could be doing it purely for fun. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, why should it matter?
As for the water that’s being wasted, I agree that it’s horrendously unfair there are millions of people living in third world countries without access to clean drinking water. We, in stark contrast, live in a society that’s so accustomed to an abundance of it that most of us needlessly shower on a daily basis.
It’s easy to find fault with just about anything if we want to. I admit to initially being skeptical about this campaign and it’s potential to raise money, but it’s hard to argue with success.
At the time of writing this article, the haul has reached a staggering $80 million. That certainly beats the $2.5 million raised in the same time period last year.
Charities all over the world are probably studying this unexpected pop culture phenomenon and wondering what they could do next. But you never know what’s going to go viral.
People taking issue with this fundraiser might want to look at it from a different perspective. If this exact same campaign was helping out a cause near and dear to their heart, they probably wouldn’t mind it at all. I know I wouldn’t.
For more information or to donate like I did, please visit www.ALS.ca.
To see my kids gleefully dump ice water on me, please visit www.LoriWelbourne.com.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com