Xpress logo
Posted 7:37 pm
September 2, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge is more than just another social media eye sore

On a regular day, our social media outlets are loaded to the brim with selfies, “Novembeards” and Harlem Shake videos to give us our fill of good, old fashioned time-wasting.

The last thing I needed was another viral trend to hog up my internet time. However, this latest trend where people are dumping ice water on their heads is one I’m willing to let slide.

For those who spend their time outdoors instead of on Facebook or Twitter, let me explain this latest internet sensation, which first took the nation by storm last month.

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge dares people to bathe themselves with an icy, cold bucket in exchange for raising awareness and money to find a cure for ALS. It drew the participation of many, ranging from friends and family to celebrities and professional athletes.

Detractors of the ice bucket challenge will deem it annoying, pointless and for some living in drought-stricken California, wasteful.

I think it has a lot to do with perspective, but I think if I had to give up space on my Facebook feed for these videos, I would do it any day.

I don’t see the harm in giving up the spotlight to a community represented by a mere 12,000 people diagnosed with the disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The trend undoubtedly brought exposure and awareness to a rather marginal community, and its impact was felt.

According to statistics from the ALS Association, it raised $94.3 million from July 29 to August 27. This is a significant increase from 2013, where the association reported to have only received $2.7 million in the same time frame.

A $92 million boost is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it’s something to behold.

When someone or something becomes popular, the public eye tends to pull it in multiple directions. While many came out in adamant support of the cause, others went in a different direction by making parodies of the challenge to diminish its value.

Mega64, a popular YouTube group that parodies video games, made their own joke version of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video. The video featured the group dumping several buckets of water on their heads while showing images of Snoop Dogg doing dance moves, flashing text saying “ALS ALMOST CURED!” and nominating polarizing figures like Casey Anthony, Edward Snowden and Oprah. The video was well-received by the public, garnering over 500,000 views, over 13,000 likes and only 376 dislikes.

I think the video’s intentions were harmless, and I understand where people who relate to the video come from. Fads are generally perceived as annoying, and people enjoy having a good laugh at things they can’t identify or empathize with. However, these people are missing the point. The point of this challenge was to bring a small and struggling community to the forefront of popular culture, and give them the support they need.

If you asked me what ALS, or even what “Lou Gehrig’s disease” was before this trend began, I would have no plausible answer. It’s extremely difficult to make an internet fad turn into something useful, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge did just that.

There are several issues that are more prominent in today’s world like gun control, suicide and breast cancer. Their resolutions are equally important, but I’d say lets give the ALS community a little more time in the spotlight. It’s their first time, and they deserve it.