Ice Bucket Challenge soaks the Internet

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Gabe Hewitt

Microsoft founder Bill Gates had an elaborate challenge. (YouTube)

By Gabe Hewitt/[email protected]
Media Editor

There’s a reason why the word “fade” has the word “fad” in it. Fads are meant to fade. In today’s Internet Age, fads seem to die especially fast. Remember Kony 2012?

There’s one internet sensation that doesn’t seem to be losing any headway: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Origins

The Ice Bucket Challenge involves a participant filming themselves dumping a bucket of ice over themselves and then posting it on the Internet in an effort to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the ALS Association. The participant then challenges several others to accept the challenge. If they don’t accept, they have to donate to the ALS Association.

Its origins are scattered. Sources like ESPN, the Boston Globe and MLB.com claim it started in July when a Boston College student, diagnosed with ALS, nominated his friends to pour ice over their heads. Other outlets like Slate argues that its origins date back to last year. Humans doing ridiculous things to raise money isn’t new. Every winter, daredevils take part in the Polar Plunge and jump into below zero waters for charity.

This summer, the Ice Bucket Challenge blew up on the internet. Thousands poured buckets of ice over their heads and according to the ALS Foundation, have raised over $70 million dollars. Celebrities like Charlie Sheen, Ian McKellen and Ben Affleck have joined the trend. Even former president George W. Bush got ice poured on him by his wife.

Why is it working?

Rich athletes pouring water over their heads. (YouTube)
Rich athletes pouring water over their heads. (YouTube)

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a really simple concept and genius marketing idea. It uses the internet’s full potential to reach millions of people.

– Social media: check

– Hashtags: check

– Sharing: check

– Video: check

– Invading news feeds: check

Plus, anyone would take the opportunity of pouring ice water over their friend’s heads.

Not everyone who does the challenge donates to the ALS Foundation, so how have millions of dollars still been raised?

It’s presence on the internet and in the media have made it an unstoppable force. Celebrities have donated lump sums of money to the cause and in turn, have improved publicized their own careers. When a great number of people are a part of a fundraiser, the little donations add up quickly.

A selfish movement

ALS is a terrible disease that slowly weakens the muscles and makes it difficult to complete everyday tasks.

It’s true that not everyone who participates in the challenge knows or understands what ALS is. This is the case for any movement. There’s always that section that only participates because “it’s cool”. As mentioned before, celebrities are part of the movement for the sole purpose of publicity.

The movement’s purpose is losing its meaning. Videos are posted without the subject even mentioning ALS and only nominating their friends. It’s beginning to become selfish. Participants are only caring about the actual act and not what it stands for.

Restoring its intentions

The immediate goal of the movement was to raise awareness for a disease. The media needs to inform people about ALS patients and how the disease affects their lives. Increasing public knowledge alongside the challenge itself could potentially increase its growth and donations.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a perfect example of how people of the Internet Age can come together to work towards one common goal. The sad truth is that it will eventually fade away and so will the spotlight on a horrible disease that needs attention in the fight for a cure.

Taking the challenge to new levels. (YouTube)
Taking the challenge to new levels. (YouTube)