The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It is, without exaggeration, the only thing I’ve been reading about lately. My FB feed is filled with friends and family doling out nominations and dousing themselves with the cold water of the challenge.
On Twitter people are being called out as “hashtag activists” while others question the effectiveness of viral campaigns.
Some people are adamant that the Ice Bucket Challenge is the best way to raise awareness and generate donations towards developing a cure for this terrible disease. Some people don’t agree with the wastefulness that goes along with the challenge itself. I get that. Consider not only the amount of fresh water being dumped out but also the energy used to create ice cubes, the plastic packaging for those who purchase the bags of ice, the gas spent on the trip to the store…etc.
There have been variations on the challenge for other causes as well. Yesterday I read about the new Rice Bucket Challenge taking place in India. Other campaigns are capitalizing on the buzz being generated through the ALS version.
There’s an ugly side coming out of the debate that cannot be ignored though. Those who are jumping in wholeheartedly are criticized for jumping on yet another bandwagon without thought. At the same time, people refusing to participate are labelled as “haters” or worse, regardless of their reason for abstaining or even questioning any part of the campaign.
Like I said, it’s kind of everywhere at the moment.
To anyone suffering, my heart aches for you. Truly. Physical, emotional, geographical, religious, or gender-based reasons; it’s all terrible to be unhealthy, unwell, and unable to care for yourself or your family. To me it’s not a matter of who is worse off. I acknowledge the problems that exist and, of course, I want to help.
When I first saw the Ice Bucket Challenge, I thought it was fine. I enjoyed the videos and love the fact that celebrities are using their fame for a good cause. But as the campaign began to pick up speed and I started seeing the faces of my friends and family taking part, I only had one thought:
Please, for the love of Jeebus, don’t nominate me.
I began to dread checking my FB, knowing that it was only a matter of time before I was called upon.
Everyone’s doing it though. Everyone’s doing it so you should too. Right?
I started to proactively think about ways to avoid it all. I could ignore the nomination. I could point out the other charities I’ve donated to this month, this year.
I could still hear the voices though:
Oh, just do it. It’s not that big of a deal.
You don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t do it, do you?
Are any of these phrases sounding familiar? I feel like a PSA against underage drinking or drug use. Yes, I understand that giving to charity is clearly not the same as huffing spraypaint, but the tactics being used to urge my participation are undoubtedly the same.
It doesn’t matter why I don’t want to dump ice on my head. That doesn’t make me a hater or a bad person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to support the cause and it doesn’t mean that I’m against those who do. It’s peer pressure though. And it’s hard to avoid.
So, yesterday when my dear sister-in-law nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge, I had some thinking to do. Ultimately, I went with this:
I made a donation to ALS.ca, which by the way, is the whole point isn’t it? and I avoided having to make the video. Still though, I can’t quite ditch the feeling that, because I didn’t do what everyone else was doing, I somehow failed.
It’s important to remember that we can’t all make all the donations all the time. It’s not realistic and it’s unfair to expect that of people. So, if you can afford to give, please do so. If you can’t, that’s okay too. If you want to get iced, go for it. If you want to stay dry, you have my permission.
It’s all good. You’re still good. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.