Why Your Snarky Opinion of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Does Not Matter

53658874For the past couple weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has emerged as a positive, impactful way to raise both awareness and money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or ALS), the neurodegenerative condition often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

As the Challenge has progressed, everyone from ex-presidents, to star athletes, to D-list celebs, to normies like you and I have engaged in pouring buckets of ice cold water on ourselves while a video camera records the absurdity. With each splash, more cash has been raised for the ALS Association than seemingly ever before, with millions more dollars raised for ALS research throughout the duration of the Ice Bucket Challenge than at comparable intervals in the past.

But as the videos have become more and more prevalent, a teeming mass of self-righteous serial loathers has begun to bubble its way to the forefront of the movement. For every handful of clips promoting awareness of a deadly, debilitating disease, there may be one or two carefully worded articles condemning the foolishness of pouring buckets of chilled liquid on one’s head. The critics have their reasons for feeling the way they do, citing self-promotion, the squandering of perfectly good water, and the belief that performing such an embarrassing feat on camera does not directly equate to cash for a cause that desperately deserves your money. The critics, however, are assholes.

Basically, haters of the Ice Bucket Challenge can categorize their ire into one of four (here comes a pun) buckets:

  1. They are annoyed that people they barely claim as “friends” on Facebook are clogging their timelines with something other than horribly written memes, wedding photo albums, or pictures of children.
  2. They are angry that, because they are loathsome individuals, no one has challenged them to participate in pouring a bucket of ice water on themselves and they really just want to be included.
  3. They are irritated that people are wasting water, because there are people in this world who could use the clean water that we happen to be dumping on our heads (and that’s certainly true). But at the same time, these smug wannabe Planeteers also take twice-daily 15-minute showers, swim in pools in the summer, and soak away their aches and pains in steamy Jacuzzis, so can any of us really bitch and moan about wasting water? Really? REALLY?
  4. They are incensed that this comes across as self-promotion, because look at you just sitting there with that bucket of water looking better than everyone else in your swim trunks and flip-flops, with that nice tan and a camera-friendly smile, and WHY THE HELL CAN’T I LOOK LIKE THAT, TOO, YOU SELF-PROMOTING BASTARD?

And then of course there’s the trump card, the one thing that all the haters, regardless of category, seem to cite every time: partaking in the Ice Bucket Challenge DOES NOT LEAD TO A DONATION TO THE ALS ASSOCIATION! Which, in theory, is true. If A is dumping water on oneself and B is writing a check to charity, then A certainly doesn’t equal B. But where A may not equal B, A can lead to B. And that appears to be the case in this instance.

A quick trip over to the front page of the ALS Association website and one is greeted by an image of an ice bucket, along with videos, headlines, and stats about everything the Ice Bucket Challenge has done to boost ALS awareness. The statistics are perhaps the most telling of all. As of August 20th, $31.5 million in donations had been taken in by the ALSA during the three-week period in which the Challenge had been running. Over that same span a year ago, just $1.9 million was raised. The difference is staggering and all signs for that expansive margin point to the creation of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

If the numbers don’t sway you, maybe the fact that the Challenge was created by a man who lives with ALS will at least breathe a little warmth into that cold heart of yours. Pete Frates, a 29-year-old former college baseball player recently diagnosed with the disease, is the inspiration behind the entire movement. And if that weren’t enough to move you, consider that Frates’ close friend and co-creator of the Challenge, Corey Griffin, drowned over the weekend in a diving accident. Before he passed away, though, the 27-year-old Griffin managed to raise $100,000 on behalf of Frates – plus inspire millions more to donate through the advent of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Beyond all of that, though, there is the element of common sense.

No matter how much it may irk you, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a great thing. That curmudgeonly hipsters on sites like Slate, Vice, and Gawker are getting traction out of labeling Challenge participants as morons rings profoundly hypocritical – if the only tangible benefits to ice bucket videos are all-important staples of self-promotion such as page views, Facebook Likes, and Twitter Retweets, then how does a Challenge participant differ from a paid scribe seeking those very same things, as well? Let’s be honest with ourselves: everyone with a social media account can be considered self-promoting to a degree. So let’s cut the bullshit and stop ejaculating this argument all over the internet like any of us exist in a world exempt from masturbatory ego stroking.

Years from now, VH1’s I Love the 2010s will look back on 2014 and profile the phenomenon of dumping buckets of ice water on one’s head to raise awareness about a disease. The flashback will make the entire movement appear even goofier than it seems now. And yet perhaps the most hilarious thing of all will be that back in 2014, we had no real knowledge of ALS and little in the way of research for a cure. With any luck, we’ll one day reflect on ALS the way we do now with other diseases we’ve eradicated in decades past. If that comes to be thanks to homemade videos of an otherwise silly act, it will all be worth it.

Whether you like it or not, your snarky opinion of the Ice Bucket Challenge is shit. Awareness, however fleeting or prolonged it may be, is never a bad thing. People are doing good things right now. Embrace it.

2 thoughts on “Why Your Snarky Opinion of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Does Not Matter”

  1. I’m not mad at it, but i do think it is brilliant to play off people vanity to raise money. Might be a cynical thought, but doesn’t make it any less true.

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