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The Lake News Online
  • My view: Viral videos show the vain side to giving

  • Perhaps you've seen it online through any garden variety of social media platforms. Maybe you've seen it on morning news or on talk shows. I've seen it even on sports broadcasts.

    A bucket or jug filled with cold-as-the-Arctic water and ice cubes is dumped over the head of a willing participant, all in the name of ALS — better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
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  • Perhaps you’ve seen it online through any garden variety of social media platforms. Maybe you’ve seen it on morning news or on talk shows. I’ve seen it even on sports broadcasts.
    A bucket or jug filled with cold-as-the-Arctic water and ice cubes is dumped over the head of a willing participant, all in the name of ALS — better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
    It’s enough to send chills — literally — down your spine. I took three years of cold showers in college due to a less-than-desirable hot water heater at my rented house. I have no desire to take a single additional cold shower, ALS Association or not.
    But no matter.
    The Ice Bucket Challenge (or #icebucketchallenge if you’re tech savvy) became an internet phenomenon, akin to a similar project called the Cold Water Challenge earlier this year in which participants jumped into a frigid body of water for this reason or that.
    With a pretty significant body of water in our collective back yard, the Cold Water Challenge took root even here in the lake area.
    On the surface, all seems well. People doing a somewhat extreme activity in an act of self-deprecation to bring attention to a debilitating disease could bring about a lot of good, right?
    Both the Ice Bucket Challenge and Cold Water Challenge profess to center around charitable giving. That is a farce.
    Both challenges stipulate some kind of charitable giving as a part of accepting (or not accepting) the challenges. The participants who complete the challenges are tasked with video taping the event and posting it so everyone can see. That’s usually about the end of it.
    To call this a charity movement is a non sequitur.
    It’s about calling attention to oneself to show just how kind and charitable one can be. As I see it, these viral movements are far less about charity as they are about vanity and securing an image of kindness and giving.
    I’ve noticed these viral videos rarely talk about the disease, the charity or the research involved to curb the effects of the disease. Particularly with the Ice Bucket Challenge, there’s no mention in giving at all with many of the videos I’ve watched. I’d wager many of the participants don’t even know what ALS is.
    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects cells in the brain and spinal cord characterized by muscle weakness, twitching and “thick speech” as defined by the ALS Association.
    I would never know any of that through the Ice Bucket Challenge since it focuses on individual accomplishment rather than actual awareness.
    Page 2 of 2 - Some may argue that these movements raise awareness. I disagree. Awareness has no visible part in what’s going on.
    I’m certainly not against public demonstrations of giving and support. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is an excellent example of how to raise awareness and funds for the research and treatment of breast cancer.
    The Run for the Fallen held last weekend in Camdenton is another good example.
    I was always taught in church to give freely without any thought of recognition or reward. In an age where everyone seems obsessed with themselves, even donating to a charity seems to be a self-centered action.
    If I want to donate to a worthy cause, I’ll cut a check and learn more about that cause.
    And I’ll do so without being soaked to the bone.

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