The ice bucket challenge

Update: It has come to my attention that some foundations promoting the research for ALS are doing so with unethical stem cell research. This doesn't diminish what I feel about how it is good to raise awareness, but it does tell me that we have to be careful about where our donations go, and that our actions do more good than harm. I realise this post may end up sounding a little bit like it, but at no point do I feel that herd mentality is a good thing, nor do I believe that the end justifies the means. As I stated in the second last paragraph, what I'm saying is that the world is fallen and if we can have a shot of turning something negative from purely negative to at least having some good, let's go for it. For more information, check out this link.

By now, most people should know what the ALS ice bucket challenge is all about. For the benefit of those who live under a rock though, the ALS ice bucket challenge is basically this thing where you dump a bucket of ice water over your head to raise awareness for the disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

There is some controversy over this thing. Aside from the obvious ones like wasting water, one thing which was pointed out is that many people aren't even doing this to raise awareness for ALS. They're just doing it because its the 'in' thing. To many, its sort of just like planking. A fad that comes and goes. In fact, the origins of this challenge is that you either dump the ice cold water on your head, or you donate a hundred dollars to ALS. So the original idea was actually to be able to avoid donating money to the organisation. It seems to promote the idea that one has done his duty just by dumping the bucket of water over his head. A form of escape from needing to actually care about ALS and donating to it's cause.

I felt a great deal of skepticism towards it as well. It is truly obvious that many people do it for the 'likes' and the fun idea of being able to challenge one another to do the same. To these people, it's not so much about ALS but just having fun. It all feels so superficial.

I came across an article today and certain comments as well that made me reflect further about this though. One particular point was raised up by a family member of someone suffering from ALS. To paraphrase it, it is this: "I don't care if many people are just doing this for fun. I don't care if many people are doing it for their own motives instead of really caring about ALS. I don't care if people are being superficial. The fact of the matter is that awareness is being spread. That donations for ALS have skyrocketed because of this increased awareness. Awareness, action, donations. That's all that matters. Even if the action merely spread awareness, even if the awareness was raised only as a second thought, it is still being done. Suddenly in two weeks we have gone from majority of the world not even knowing the existence of ALS, to most people having heard of it, and among them some who now really do care."

This is something that makes me reflect. I would have been inclined to point out the hypocrisy of man, questioning motives of people doing the challenge, but seriously, what benefit would that bring? It's a perspective shift. Instead of thinking of this as something hypocritical, think of it as what it really is: a fad that has a really positive side effect. So just letting it roll would bring more benefit then sitting down and criticizing the people who don't really care about it but are just going with the flow.

I myself have never heard of ALS before in my life. It was this challenge that made me interested to find out more about what it really is about. In the same way, though I might think that people are more inclined towards having fun, somewhere in them it still plants a little seed. These people may also have went on to read up a little more about ALS, or at least their actions have spurred someone else to do so.

It is something I need to realise. This world we live in is fallen. We can't expect all that much from it. The ideal world is that people would not need to use gimmicks to raise awareness, that people would just quietly donate instead of announcing their activities. This ideal world however does not exist, so we make do with what we have. If marketing plans, viral trends and gimmicks can be used to promote something positive, then good go for it. If we have the opportunity to make use of something negative in the human condition and turn it into something positive, then why not?

So, do not jump too quickly at make criticisms. Sit back and think, do my criticisms cause more damage than heal? The world is a pretty complicated place, and each day I realise more and more that there is still so much I do not know.