Viral videos seem to be the latest sensation on social media these days. From “Charlie bit my finger” to “A panda yawning at the zoo while flirting with the Tigress (Any Kungfu Panda fans out there?)”, these videos generate massive amounts of hits/likes/comments from old grandmas, desperate housewives, obsessed stalkers, bemused parents, and just about anyone who consider it to be their “karma” to be online.
The newest viral video that will make your head numb (in a few cases, literally) is the ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE or as normal people call it “Wet T-shirt contest for the middle class”. Facebook is inundated with videos of people pouring a bucket of ice and water on their head and challenging other people to do the same. There have been more than 1.5 million videos pertaining to the challenge that have been shared on Facebook between June 1 and Aug. 13. One of the most long-staying trend topics, the awareness phenomenon was mentioned over 2.5 million times on Twitter between the end of July and mid of August, according to The New York Times.
Involvement of famous people have given the so-called challenge a hype that is unprecedented. From Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos, Satya Nadella to Bill Gates and Sheldon Cooper, even the high-flying geeks are going woo-hoo and have started feeling like a homie to the cool world of dousing oneself with water, or as they say in India, taking a bath. If geeks are doing it, how can the celebrities be left behind. So we have Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Iron Man with their shrill cries of “Ohhhh… Its soooo cold” pouring a bucket of water on their head. Not content with the original challenge, people are giving it their customised touch, like India has started a RICE bucket challenge while Matt Damon, in his latest video has poured toilet water on his head. I hope that Danny Boyle watches the video of Matt and decides to cast him for his next installment of Slumdog Millionaire. The fact is, you may like it or you may hate it, but you just cannot ignore the ICE bucket challenge.
But, what is the fuss all about? A quick search on google will give you the basics of the challenge.
“The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research.”
So, OK. It is performed to raise awareness for a particular condition called ALS, that on further examination revealed,
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND), Charcot disease, and, in the United States, Lou Gehrig’s disease—is a neurodegenerative disease with various causes. ALS is characterised by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, and difficulty in speaking (dysarthria), swallowing (dysphagia), and breathing (dyspnea). ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases”
A few searches later, this was revealed
“…In the U.S., more than 5,600 are diagnosed every year, and up to 30,000 Americans are currently affected. ALS is responsible for 2 deaths per 100,000 people….”
Great!! I am astounded now. 2 deaths in 100,000 people. That is like 2 bad meals a day for an African kid, if he can afford that. Anyway, we should not be so cynical in our judgement and cast aspersions on a challenge for raising awareness for a noble cause.
So now that we are clear with the disease and its disastrous consequences, lets get to the rules of the ice bucket challenge.
“..Within 24 hours of being challenged, participants have to record a video of themselves in continuous footage. First, they are to announce their acceptance of the challenge followed by pouring ice into a bucket of water. Then, the bucket is to be lifted and poured over the participant’s head. Then the participant can call out a challenge to other people..”
“… In one version of the challenge, the participant is expected to donate $10 if they have poured the ice water over their head or donate $100 if they have not….”
It does not stop at that. Every time you decide to indulge in the act, you have to nominate three other people from your friends, family, BFFs, random strangers to follow the suit. If they return the favour, then you become a local philanthropic angel who “inspired” other people. If they do not, you become that guy who is a real attention seeking Biaaaac*h.
Here is when the awareness begins to taper off and absurdity begins to grow. Here it is where it flips from activism to slacktivism. Nothing wrong as such, with people pouring buckets of water on their head to raise awareness. However, with the different celebrities coming to the fore, it has become more of a platform for them to show-off their cool “washrooms” and palatial mansions and generally how much more awesome they are. They in turn tag other A-lister celebrities to show how well connected they are and how their idea of calling out friends is getting wet with Mila Kunis, after a bubble bath with Scarlett Johansson.
In this snooty visage of celebrities which is self-indulgent, self congratulatory, self promote-y and gives them a fake sense of pride for being able to “contribute to the cause”, common people have also started following the trend. Now we have mothers-in-law challenging daughters-in-law, toothless grandmothers challenging teenage twilight-loving granddaughters, and Chuck Norris challenging Chuck Norris for a bucket of water on your head.
In this “disturbance in the force” moment, I had a conversation with a cousin of mine who nominated me for the challenge
Cousin: Dude, did you already perform the challenge?
Me: Umm.. no, not yet. Which challenge?
Cousin: Dude, you do not check your facebook? I tagged you in my post. Now either you have to perform the challenge or give some amount to charity.
Me: Oh, I didn’t know that. Sorry about that. So, what’s the challenge?
Cousin: You have to fill up a bucket of water and pour it on your head. If you fail, you lose the challenge.
Me: So, you mean I will have to take bath?
Cousin: Nah, you don’t get it!! It’s for a cause. To raise awareness for a disease that kills millions of people in the world every year.
Me: Oh, so what disease are we talking about here?
Cousin: Ummm… I’m not sure on that, dude. But its fun. You can also invite other people to take up the challenge.
Me: So, let me get this straight. You don’t know what the disease is, what is the cause for it, what are the symptoms, is there a cure for it for it or not, what research goes into it. However, you are happy to pour a bucket of icy, cold water on your head, with #icebucketchallenge, shriek like an Opera singer, then take-off all your clothes, become a streaker, hi-five a policeman and steal his horse, all in the name of raising awareness?
Cousin: The last part was a bit exaggerated, but yes, that’s the concept.
Me: OK!! I’M IN.
The point which I’m trying to highlight here is that entire motive of the awareness campaign is lost in the hype of trying to follow the trend. Ask a person who has just drenched himself in a bucket full of water and still trying to get to his senses about the full form of ALS and you would probably end up with a middle finger shown at your face and a bloodied nose thereafter. It does not matter to them what the disease is or the consequences that it brings to a person suffering from it. The charity has become a postscript, the awareness has taken a back seat while people try to chill their brains.
So, I think its time to say “I SAY NO TO THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE”. If you have a sense of empathy towards the people suffering from it and you want to contribute towards its research, then probably writing off a cheque to support the organisation is a smarter way to act upon it. Why be a “poser” on the digital world when you can be a “doer” in the real one?
Thankfully, there are a few institutions in the digital world who have retained their sanity towards this issue. Moreover, they are rewarding the students who deny to take up the challenge for their sensible thought and fair action. MyAssignmentExperts.com is one such educational platform that not only disapproves of this fad, but also encourages students to REALLY contribute for the cause. The reward we offer is $50 off from quoted price of your assignment. All that a student needs to do is to post the picture on this post as their Facebook cover for 24 hours and send us a screenshot.
Fill out this simple form and let us know that you agree with us too. And your reward: $50 off on our assignment service.