A few times per week on my nationally syndicated radio shows I get an email from someone asking if I have “taken the Ice Bucket Challenge” yet. The answer: I have not. And I don’t plan to.
For weeks, social media and even entertainment shows have been bombarded with videos of the rich and famous – and the not-so rich and not-so famous – raising money for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The reason I won’t jump on the bandwagon is because it is expected that I will. Is it disingenuous to rah-rah a campaign that does nothing to educate me about the cause and only brings more attention to myself because I am doing it?
You see, when people “run for the cure” or any of those other charitable slogans, it’s because they are passionate about supporting the cause and not just joining in because it’s the cool thing to do.
It is great that people are pouring buckets of ice on themselves but is it raising money in most cases? Is it raising awareness? Can we honestly say that the giggling teens watching their favourite stars get drenched understand what the campaign is all about? I am an adult and I’ve heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease but I have no idea what the story is behind the Ice Bucket Challenge aside from people are getting cold and wet and it is on everybody’s Facebook page.
Is that the point of the campaign? Get everybody talking but not really have an educational component behind it? Is it up to me to research the cause or should the campaign teach me something without having to go, “What’s this whole thing about? I’ll look it up. Ah, I’m too busy. I don’t really care.”
It really goes back to people participating for the sake of participating. People want their video to go viral and be seen by the world. The message is lost – come to think of it, for the majority of people they don’t even know there is a message.
So, in terms of raising money: they have done a phenomenal job. According to the ALS website, the campaign has raised an astonishing $79.7 million to date. That’s great, I applaud them, but sometimes money isn’t everything.
Here’s hoping that even just a small fraction of that fund goes to education and awareness so that people actually know what ALS stands for (I’m talking the acronym, not the mission statement of the organization) and that there is some sort of takeaway — not just people’s money and the publicity a celebrity is getting for doing a good deed in a six-second viral video.