Print Edition: September 3, 2014
Every time I see a post on my Facebook news feed or on my Instagram account about the ALS ice bucket challenge, I literally cringe. I have been nominated twice, and would have been nominated a third time, but they kindly asked first, and I responded with “No. Not even a little bit.” I understand it is important to raise funds and awareness for all sorts of different things, but publicly calling people out for not donating to a specific cause? That just doesn’t fly with me.
I have tonnes of friends and family who have completed the ice bucket challenge. Some have just poured ice water on their heads, and some have done it along with publicly stating they will be making a donation to ALS Canada. The original premise was that you either donate $100 to ALS or pour ice water on your head — now, it seems like people are just nominating others for fun. Basically, if you are on my Facebook feed and haven’t explicitly said that you are donating to ALS, I am to assume that you are a terrible person and would rather be drenched in ice water than open your wallet.
People might think I’m mean or cold-hearted for not caring about the ALS ice bucket challenge — I’m sure that if I were close to someone affected by ALS, I would be more than happy to pour a bucket of ice water over my head to show my support and raise awareness and would probably make a donation on top of that. But, since that isn’t the case, I don’t want to be peer-pressured into donating to a cause that wasn’t even on my radar until a few weeks ago. Last time I checked, no one was able to cure a disease simply by pouring a bucket of water on their head.
I support the causes I find important. I have adopted animals from the BC SPCA because I believe in the animal advocacy work that they do. I support Greenpeace because I feel that we need to save the environment for future generations. I support the Salvation Army specifically because of their Angel Tree program and my belief that every child should receive a gift at Christmas time. I support Developing Indigenous Resources (DIR), an Indian NGO that I had the pleasure of interning with last fall, because I have seen the work they do first-hand in improving the lives of people in less-developed areas of India. If I’m not able to give a financial contribution, there is always the gift of time — volunteering and fundraising are important contributions as well.
The ALS Association has raised over $80 million since this whole challenge started and the level of awareness has obviously increased, since all you see on social media is the ice bucket challenge (or people like me who oppose it). Like all other social media and charity campaigns (Kony 2012, Livestrong, Project Red), the ice bucket challenge will run its course, and no one will be talking about ALS in a few months. I hope that the ALS Association and ALS Canada actually use the money and the attention this social media storm has given them and do something productive with it. Finding a cure would be a good place to start.