Social media gets frigid for ALS


By Emma Goodwin

During an extremely hot summer that has extended into our first few weeks on campus, I was entirely relieved when — just as my air conditioning broke — I was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. While the rampant fundraiser hit its peak a little more than a week ago, it has inevitably slowed down, as all fundraisers do at some point.

I’ll be pretty proud of you if you managed to go the entire summer without watching your favorite celebrities do the challenge on some sort of top 10 list. I, for one, cannot boast that achievement. Either way, there is almost no escaping the ubiquity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where people across social media sites post videos where they nominate friends to either dump a bucket of ice water on themselves (and supposedly donate $10) within 24 hours or donate $100. All donated money is supposed to go to the ALS Association, which aims to treat and cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

If you didn’t get nominated, you were probably afraid that you would because of social pressure and a distaste for freezing cold water all over your body. If you did get nominated, you had to plan out your strategy of execution, as well as who you were going to nominate in a vengeful turn. Either way, these videos were plastered on social media by commoners and celebrities alike.

In the midst of a historical, groundbreaking fundraiser with the potential to save millions of lives from a disease that effects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, a slew of negativity kept springing up. There were many people complaining about the challenge clogging up their Facebook newsfeeds, people complaining about supporting an institution that apparently uses stem cell research and people complaining about those who didn’t donate.

Whatever way you choose to spin the negativity, there are a pervasive number of people who see the glass half empty, when, in reality, the glass is full of over 100 million dollars.

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    To compare, let’s all just take a moment to note that last year the ALS Association raised 2.8 million dollars — still a substantial amount of money, but pocket change compared to the 3,500 percent increase in funds raised during the same one-month time period this year.

    Yup, that is how much this simple, waste-of-water, every-time-I-log-in-I-can’t-escape-it, if-I-pretend-I-didn’t-see-it-I-won’t-have-to-do-it challenge managed to raise to fight a disease. Obviously, ALS benefited from having this much coverage in such a short amount of time.

    However, even with this amount of success, the amount of negativity says something about all of the complainers and haters that are apparently surrounding me every day.

    It’s just so undeniably selfish. It worries me how egotistical some people are by complaining about a charity taking up too much of their visual space on social media. People are complaining about this supposed minor social media inconvenience when they should be complaining about the devastating effects of ALS; they could actually spend their time and words doing something about the disease instead.

    While the donation amount could have been much higher if all the people who did the challenge also donated (though many of them did), it is still an exemplary amount of money that any charity would do well with. Either way, donation or not, anybody who publicly participated in the challenge succeeded in raising awareness about ALS.

    Ultimately, I feel absolutely no sympathy for you if you were a little peeved that a charity was taking up your social media feeds. I feel no sympathy for you that you were really, really cold because your sister put a lot of ice in the bucket (and your screaming in the video won’t make me feel worse for you, either). I feel no sympathy for the people who were annoyed, thought it was stupid and just didn’t want to do it.

    I do feel sympathy, however, for the people with ALS who have been battling with a neurodegenerative disease. And I, for one, am pretty dang happy to see those people getting 100 million dollars for research for a disease that has no cure and only one FDA-approved drug that “modestly extends survival.”

    But people are still complaining about a bucket of ice water.

    As the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge slows, I challenge all of you to stop whining about something that should only be described as positive. Step out of your own shoes and consider the triviality and the egoism behind wishing a trend would stop that is helping raise money for a charity. Complain about the disease and join the rest of the world in trying to stop it.

    Emma is a sophomore in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].