I’m sure you’ll find it equal parts dark and silly.
Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve seen a few of the celebrity ice bucket videos and some of friends and relatives. My initial thought was “cute gimmick, nice use of Social media.”
it wasn’t until a Facebook friend (who, as an aside, I’ve not seen in person for over five years and had no contact with in that time) tagged me and another 98 people warning that he might nominate us for the ice bucket challenge - we’d just have to stick around and watch his video to see. And it was then that I really started to think about this phenomena and why it troubles me so much.
Probably the most notable thing to me is the aggressive nature of it. There’s an insistence that because you’ve been dared to either undergo an unpleasant experience or donate money to that specific charity, you’ll lose respect or admiration. It sits in a similar spectrum to public proposals in that your rejection of the proposal or the act of charity is no longer a private thing, it becomes public and your actions are judged by people who probably lack any other knowledge of your situation.
The most important thing about charitable giving is the ability to choose one or a few charities that really resonate with you. Maybe you have young kids and the thought of SIDS terrifies you. Or you identify with the plight of refugees in war-torn Countries. Or your grandmother/father/partner/best friend had/has/died from one of the many cancers. From my limited funds, I would prefer to direct my funds to a charity or charities of my choosing. Being bullied into supporting a cause that means little to you is tantamount to extortion. It’s a similar tactic to “charity muggers”, who will demand that you sign up to donate monthly (one off donations are seldom acceptable) to a specific charity, because they’re being paid for it, not because you specifically decided to support that charity. Usually with lines such as “how can you afford NOT to donate to x?”, which incidentally is similar to the line often employed by door-to-door insurance salespeople: “how can you adopts not to insure your house/cat/car?” I doubt you’ll find that any of them are giving their time freely, or for that matter, regularly donating to that charity.
I won’t touch on the relevance of supporting ALS or any other overfunded charity, as there’ve been a few great articles, such as http://www.macleans.ca/society/health/why-the-ice-bucket-challenge-is-bad-for-you/ and http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2014/08/als_ice_bucket_challenge_giving_money_to_disease_specific_charities_is_a.html
Suffice to say that money donated, or ice water tipped on people will have little effect other than raising awareness for a fairly rare disease. If your funds are limited, why not direct them towards a charity that will actually make a difference, such as providing resources in third world nations, or helping domestic abuse survivors, or researching something like heart disease, which has a substantially greater effect. Or if you can’t donate funds, donate your blood or your time. I’d argue that a day spent packing care packages for low income families is a much more charitable act than filming yourself being humiliated.
One of the last issues I have with this is that, in my mind at least, the point of charity is not to tell everyone that you’re being charitable. While it doesn’t exactly defeat the purpose - I think for example that Red Nose Day and similar merchandise-based charity models are very effective - it begs the question: are you doing this because you feel strongly about it, or because you want people to know what an ace person you are? It can theoretically be both, but conspicuous charity seems a little too mired in ego to me. In terms of financial donations, I think the only people that need to know about who you donate to and how much are you and the ATO or your accountant. To my mind, it’s a small step above clicktivism - such as sharing a Facebook post because “like to keep five children from starving, share to end world hunger.” a gesture meant more to showcase your perception of your good qualities than to demonstrate those qualities in any meaningful way.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say (and I’ve certainly rambled) is that you should go ahead and tip a bucket of ice water over your head or donate to ALS. I won’t think any less of you if you truly believe you’re making a difference. But don’t expect me to play along and cheer your selflessness.