Over the past few weeks you may have noticed your friends, family and celebrities – basically everyone you know and most everyone you don’t – dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. The act, which has gone viral since mid-July, is in an effort to raise both money and awareness about the debilitating condition of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Most videos follow a similar format. Someone standing alone with a bucket of ice water at the ready. People typically say who challenged them, before dumping the water overhead. They then post it to their social media accounts, challenging a few friends to do the same or to donate some amount of money to ALS. Celebrities including Matt Lauer, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift and LeBron James have posted videos in support of the campaign.
There’s been a lot of conversation challenging the impact that these videos are actually making. Opponents to the video campaign are calling on people to avoid posting the video altogether, referring to it as slacktivism, and to just donate money to the cause.
Proponents of the videos merely turn to the numbers. According to a recent NYT story:
- More than 1.2 million videos were posted to Facebook between June 1 and August 13
- More than 2.2 million Tweets mentioned the challenge since July 29
- $13.3 million in donations to the ALS Association since July 29, compared with $1.7 million during the same period last year
- 260,000 new donors to the association in that same timespan
In 2014, activism and social engagement look tremendously different than even 5 years ago. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been changing the landscape of how people, especially young people, get involved with causes. The evolution has been fascinating to watch, and I feel confident it will only continue.
What’s your take on the Ice Bucket Challenge?
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