On social media, we're used to seeing our friends live tweet about what just went down on "Game of Thrones," post a Facebook update thanking everyone for their birthday wishes or post a selfie on Instagram of them wearing their new sunglasses. Pretty inane stuff, isn't it? But once in a while, social media can actually be used for something bigger than ourselves.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has picked up more and more steam on the Internet since it launched on July 29. Most likely, you've seen some of your friends post videos of themselves on your social media flavor of choice doing the challenge, which involves dumping a bucket full of ice water over yourself and then nominating someone else to complete the challenge in 24 hours with video proof on social media. If they do not wish to accept, they have to donate to help fight ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The sort of peer pressure that social media can inspire actually comes in handy here. The ALS Association reports that it received $4 million in donations between the launch of the campaign on July 29 and Aug. 12. It seems like the campaign has so far been successful as the organization received $1.12 million in donations during the same period last year. Pretty cool, wouldn't you say?
In two weeks, it looks like everyone from your high school friends to movie stars to athletes has been bitten by the charitable bug. Stars such as Martha Stewart, Ansel Elgort and Elizabeth Banks have done it. Members of the Kennedy family also did it, including 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who dunked ice water over her head and nominated President Obama. He later declined the challenge and decided to donate to an ALS charity instead. NHL player Paul Bissonnette completed the most epic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by having glacier water poured over him from a helicopter above.
Most recently, Justin Timberlake and members of his backing band The Tennessee Kids iced themselves for Boston Marathon survivors Patrick Downes, Jessica Kensky and her service dog Rescue. Timberlake nominated Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Steve Higgins, the announcer on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." They completed the challenge, sharp suits and all, during the Aug. 12 episode of "The Tonight Show," along with comedians Rob Riggle and Horatio Sanz.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is like the best thing that could ever happen on the Internet. Not only do we get to laugh at seeing our friends and favorite celebrities experience the shock and discomfort of being drenched in ice water, but we also get to help put an end to a lethal disease.
But the Ice Bucket Challenge has had its fair share of criticism. Many people have pointed out the fact that most of the Vines, Instagrams and Tweets make no substantial mention of ALS. Also, the whole premise of the challenge is to avoid donating money by choosing to douse yourself with icy, cold water instead. Nonetheless, nobody can deny that the viral challenge has raised a lot of money for the disease. Perhaps next time people will think more deeply about how to structure hashtag activism to actually educate the public on the disease.