There was a time when online challenges ruled the interweb (#ThrowbackThursday to the horrific “Neknominations” or the #NoMakeUpSelfie phase). The (arguably) most successful of these challenges, was the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” where people were peer pressured by their Facebook friends to pour a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads in an effort to raise awareness for ALS.
This is not to say that the Ice Bucket challenge hasn’t received its fair share of criticism. Writing for time.com, Jacob Davidson described the challenge as “problematic in almost every way” while another critic argued that the challenge simply wasted far too much usable drinking water. Another notable criticism of the campaign was the unfortunate fact that that a large number of the people who took part still don’t know what ALS is, and rather used the challenge for narcissistic self-promotion. Finally, there were also those who felt that the campaign led to ALS charities dominating donations, leading to fewer contributions to other causes that many would argue affect more people.
So here are the stats: According to the ALS Association, the Ice bucket Challenge raised an impressive $115 million in six weeks after more than 17 million people uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook (which were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times). Google also reported that there were more searches for “ALS” in 2014 than in the entire previous decade.
While I may not have been one of the 17 million Facebook users to upload a video of myself pouring a bucket of ice-cold water over my head (mainly because no one nominated me- thanks a lot Facebook friends), I must admit that I do actually see the merit in the whole campaign. This merit was made especially clear last year when scientists studying ALS reported a breakthrough that could potentially lead to therapy, not just for ALS, but for other ailments too. Many would argue that the money raised in the Ice Bucket Challenge was vital in this regard and therefore the campaign could at least be deemed a financial success, if nothing else.
Personally, I applaud the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for achieving the seemingly unachievable; the campaign that showed how millions of slacktivists can turn into legitimate collective activism!
Here’s a video of a whole lot of celebrities doing their part for the Ice Bucket Challenge:
And then, because I’m a sadistic son-of-a-bitch, here are a whole lot of Ice Bucket Challenge fails (that I may or may not have watched over 14 times):