The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge goes viral despite drought concerns and related deaths

The ice bucket challenge has positive and negative aspects. Source:
The ice bucket challenge has positive and negative aspects. Source:

The ice bucket challenge, a harmless activity, or is it? Although this cultural phenomenon is big on social media, not every student has heard of it. One SLV sophomore says, “I know nothing about the ice bucket challenge.” For those who do not know what the ice bucket challenge is, it is an activity in which the participant has ice water dumped over their heads to raise awareness for victims of ALS. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, eventually leading to death. They then call out three others who must participate in the challenge. If they fail to do so they have to donate one hundred dollars to ALS research.

Recently this cultural phenomenon caused the death of two unlucky participants. The first was the co-founder of the ice bucket challenge, Corey Griffin. Griffin passed away on August 16 in a diving incident. Griffin is said to have jumped off of a building into the water below in a new take of the popular challenge. In trying to express creativity in his own, unique, version of the cultural movement he lost his life and became no more than a cautionary tale for the next set of teenagers willing to risk their safety and well-being for a internet fad, even one for a good cause.

The other unlucky participant was a young Scottish man by the name of Cameron Lancaster. Lancaster’s family blamed the ice bucket challenge for the tragic death. He died falling into a quarry presumably trying to complete the ice bucket challenge. Although gone, these two young men will always be remembered for their sacrifice.

Jimmy Fallon and the crew pour ice on their heads for the good of mankind. Source:
Jimmy Fallon and the crew pour ice on their heads for the good of mankind. Source:

Nevertheless ice bucket-eers have not been deterred by the untimely deaths of their peers. The ALS ice bucket challenge is still a wide spreading movement sweeping across the nation. The exact origins of the challenge are unclear, however the trend really caught on after Pete Frates, a former college baseball player and a victim of ALS, posted a video dumping ice water over his head trying to raise money for the ALS Association. Ever since Frates posted the video, the challenge went viral. Even celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon and George W. Bush have posted videos of themselves doing the challenge.

Social Media has been active with the challenge’s supporters and critics alike. Many critics say the Ice Bucket challenge does nothing to help those who suffer from ALS, but statistics say that the ice bucket challenge is doing it’s job. The ALS Association says that it has taken over $88.5 million donations over the course of a month. Before the ice bucket challenge went viral, the ALS Association was only received around $2.6 million in the same amount of time. The ice bucket challenge is working, and it is a perfect campaign on Social Media. The personal connection as well as peer pressure to get the ice bucket-eers to donate or to nominate others is spreading, thus the cause and effect has spread like a wildfire raising not only money, but awareness. The Ice Bucket Challenge has the potential to change Social Media activism trends.

Some claim that the ice bucket challenge is wasting water in this time of drought. One SLV junior says: “The ice bucket challenge is not helping at all, it is wasting water when we need it the most. There is a drought, and yet no one takes that into thought.” The wire says that the ice bucket challenge is not wasting much water. Especially since many of the ice bucket-eers are coming up with crafty ways to conserve water. Those who say that the ice bucket challenge is awful, or dumb may as well as deny the effectiveness and helpful things that the ice bucket challenge has done and will continue to do for the ALS Association and the victims of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) alike.

-Michael Eckles

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