Friday, August 29, 2014

Time to throw in the towel on the Ice Bucket Challenge

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neurone disease, depending on which side of the Atlantic you hail from, has had millions of people throwing buckets of ice-cold water over themselves for their Facebook friends to gasp, giggle and take a small degree of sadistic pleasure over.

Since July 29, the ALS Association has received a record $94.3 million in donations, fuelled by the flow of freezing water splashing all over social media. Brilliant. But now it's time to stop - the water. Please.

Much like 'Movember', in which men - in particular, those apparently ill-equipped to do so - grow moustaches to raise awareness for the equally worthy cause of prostate cancer, the "ha-ha" social media value of flinging the eau glacĂ©e is in danger of being stretched too far.

Social media itself is to blame: every time you go on Facebook, someone is chucking a bucket of the cold stuff over themselves (having first made the obligatory challenge to three more challengees).

As with all charitable acts, credit to them. But at risk of being both a killjoy and treading on topical sensitivities, the Ice Bucket Challenge is now resembling a non-stop stream of jihadist propaganda videos: first the index finger-aloft pontificating to camera, then the grisly act. You know what I mean.

While we will, hopefully, never become desensitised to the truly murderous footage coming from Syria and Iraq, the light-hearted shock value of the Ice Bucket Challenge is starting to dry out.

It doesn't help that, despite the enormous sums of money it has raised for ALS, some are having their frigid 30 seconds and NOT donating to an ALS charity. According to a poll in The Independent newspaper, more than half of Brits taking the challenge haven't made a donation afterwards as required, while another half didn't even know what all these wannabe snuff videos were in aid of. Worse still, over a third of those who responded to the poll said they'd only taken part in the challenge to gain attention on social media.

ALS is a serious condition, but maybe the most humane thing - for the rest of us - would be to spare us the sight of people getting drenched in the name of it, and just hand over a cheque. Privately...

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