The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – Why I’m loving it, Why we did it

I’m a walking contradiction. I’m cynical, really cynical. I’m also, somehow, an eternal optimist. My first instinct with the whole Ice Bucket challenge would have been to be cynical about it.

The optimist in me really believes in doing right by others. I give money to charities regularly, but the cynic in me tells me not to tell anyone about it, I believe that it would render it pointless – it would just make it an act of vanity.

The cynic in me would be pissed off at the ALS challenge for various reasons:

  • It’s a vanity contest
  • It wastes precious water
  • It detracts from the main issue here – ALS.

The campaign, however, is brilliant because it does not try to induce pity or try to guilt-trip people into giving money. Most people did not really get that they had to either donate money or have an ice bucket poured over them – but if they enjoyed the ice bucket bit and then donated money anyway, well – no harm in that. I’d say the campaign pivoted, just like any successful startup would have, and changed its purpose by allowing people to get water poured on them and donate.

People are loving that they have an excuse to put a video of themselves up on Facebook, so most are pouring ice and donating whenever they’re nominated.

But why do I love it?

Well, as I posted on Twitter recently, this is a really terrible time in the world.

ISIS, Gaza, Libya, Ukraine, the Ebola virus – there is violence and death all around us. For once I’m loving the fact that social media (and news sources) have something which is essentially harmless fun with a good end result showing up.

Yes, people are using it as an excuse to put themselves up on Facebook – but isn’t anything we do an excuse for that nowadays? Better this than someone’s grilled chicken salad (the cynic is creeping back out).

Another reason I liked the challenge is because it managed to make giving fun. Even though I have a habit of giving to charity without telling anyone about it, then I’m also reducing the pressure on others to give too. This way people were giving money to charities and enjoying themselves in the process. Charity, gone viral.

Why did we (Switch Digital) do it?

At the office we obviously took a slightly different take on it. We did not only pour icy water over our heads, but we decided to bring it home. Malta’s population is approximately 400,000 people. 6 people per 100,000 are affected by ALS. 24 of us took the challenge, the approximate number (statistically) of people who suffer of ALS in Malta.

Given that we’re environmentally friendly, we also avoided wasting water and used sea water for our challenge. Our donation went to the Hospice Movement, which is the organisation that helps people who suffer from ALS locally.

And in the end…

So let’s keep the silliness going. For once, lets all be optimists without a shred of cynicism and see the good things that are coming out of this latest fad. I know there have been far worse ones in the past.

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