I’ve used this space several times to bemoan online hoaxes aimed at creating panic. It doesn’t take much browsing time to find someone perpetuating a lie as fact on Facebook, and it could be anything from Barack Obama’s “secret Muslim upbringing” to smartphones exploding while connected to a charger. Too many people accept things as fact without doing a little research or – even worse – thinking.
That’s the bad stuff. There’s good stuff, too. It’s just rare.
Take the latest Internet-born fad, the Ice Bucket Challenge.
For those lucky enough to be able to avoid the Internet and social media, the Ice Bucket Challenge is aimed at raising awareness and research funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Those taking part in the challenge will nominate others to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads before doing so themselves.
It’s similar to another challenge from last year geared toward cancer research.
At it’s core, this idea is well-intended. I mean, seriously. Who wants to dump a bucket of ice-cold water on themselves? It sounds horrible. But people record videos of themselves doing it, all in the name of helping others.
However, as this trend has reached what appears to be its zenith, it’s impossible to avoid the question: How many people are actually doing this in the name of ALS research and not just looking for a little Internet fame?
Many of the videos I’ve seen have been very brief and include little-to-no information on ALS or how the viewer can help.
Example: Person introduces himself/herself, says “I’m doing the Ice Bucket Challenge and I nominate this person, this person and this person to do it next.” Person dumps bucket of ice water on himself/herself and acts as if he/she has just dumped a bucket of ice water on himself/herself. Video ends.
That helps no one.
They haven’t all been like this. In fact, the versions that will invariably receive the most views are those posted by celebrities, and in most of those that I’ve seen, those people take the time to properly address the need at hand and how we can make a real difference. Many of them reveal the amount of money they’ve donated in addition to completing the challenge.
This fad has received backlash, as most every popular fad eventually does. Detractors say it’s self-congratulatory, and to a degree, it is. There’s also plenty of debate about which ALS charity is more worthy of receiving donations – the ALS Association uses embryonic stem cells in its research, while the Mayo Clinic uses adult stem cells in its trials.
It just goes to show that it’s nearly impossible to help without someone saying you’re doing it wrong.
Personally, if I’m going to help, I’m not worried about who knows it and who doesn’t. Plus, I don’t figure my involvement is likely to inspire anyone else to take part.
But that’s me. I can’t fault anyone who wants to help in their own way.
When it comes to helping those with debilitating illnesses, why can’t we all just get along?
Justin McGill is the general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.