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September 29, 2023

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Opportunity to raise awareness ends with skepticism, doubts

The first time I learned what the ice bucket challenge was for, I thought it was a charming idea.

By this point, I doubt there is a soul among us who doesn’t now know why drenching yourself in ice water has suddenly become so popular, but for some reason, even something as simple has water has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

To some, this article might seem profoundly cynical, and out of a desire not to appear callous, let me say that I acknowledge ALS for the horrible, degenerative disease that it is, as well as I acknowledge the spike in donations that has been achieved by what has now become a viral phenomenon.

However, there is something about the ice bucket challenge that seems painfully shallow.

For the sufferers of ALS, I’m sure this means the world that at least for a brief moment, the typically unconcerned, transient masses of Twitter and Facebook have taken time to show support, raise awareness and in some cases even to donate money to help end the disease.

If I had ALS, I would be grateful, but when I see my friends and classmates posting these challenge videos; most of whom have never so much as mentioned the suffering of others, I get a bit skeptical.

We shouldn’t just be doing this because it’s the “cool” thing to do, nor because we want brownie points from our Twitter followers. Too many people have turned what should be something powerful into a lame, self-serving photo op that has much more to do with them than it does with the people they’re supposedly trying to help.

Jumping on the bandwagon can be a useful tactic to cure any disease, but for a wagon this big, everyone has got to get out and push a little bit. And by “push” I mean “donate actual money.”

I don’t think people should be able to lay claim to any amount of pride for having helped out unless they themselves have donated money. The fight to end ALS is a worthy cause, but the reality is that unless people stop with the water pouring and start with the money giving, this won’t really amount to anything but a bunch of Facebook likes for so many of them; the same Facebook likes that will neither cure cancer, nor cure ALS.

Therefore, I’d like to pose my own challenge to all those who have thus far partaken in the ice bucket challenge. I would like everyone to make a video in which they fill out a check for $100 and put it in an envelope addressed to the appropriate organization to donate for ALS research, while encouraging others to do the same.

We can spread awareness just as easily this way, and not only that, but we can stop passing the buck with all this mutual back patting and actually get something accomplished. A lot of money has been raised already, but there could be so much more.

If you care with your heart and not only with your lips, do your part and pitch in. If you want to pour water over your head so your friends can giggle at you, that’s your own business.

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