Friday, August 29, 2014

Quick Piece on the Ice Bucket Challenge Criticism

Unless you've been avoiding social media like a dead skunk on the road, you've probably heard of, seen, or been nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge. And if you've seen it, you've probably also seen the people berating it, mocking it, or generally calling it out as not actually benefiting anyone.

For those who think the act of dumping ice on your head is not actually helping anyone, since it's either donate to the cause or dump ice water on your head, keep in mind that often people dump the ice bucket of water on their head AND donate. According to the ALSA.org site, over $79 million in donations have come in from this recent campaign. That's a lot more than just icy water.

Now there's also another group of nay sayers out there who seem distressed that this is another social media hype train. That it's unfortunate that this cause has to go memetic in order for people to care about it. Here's what I have about that:

My thing is that there are a LOT of worthy causes out there. From overcrowded animal shelters, to starving children both home and abroad, to diseases no one knows about, to diseases that affect millions of people, to natural disasters, to.. the list goes on.

There's a metric ton of terrible things going on in the world, problems that need to be funded to save lives and make the world a better place. But people don't know about them. They don't give to them. They are either ignorant of the problem or choose to ignore it. We buy ourselves another coffee, treat ourselves to a movie, buy a 16 year old a new car, while there are thousands of organizations that are great charities and could use the money to make a difference.

The social media hype machine does get out of control. #StopKony is like a bad joke that actually happened. At least from what I've seen the ice bucket challenge is spreading awareness and motivating people to give to a cause that needs it. It would be great if more people just gave to those in need and didn't need a gimmick or a campaign to get the word out. There's just so much noise online though.

Recently on Kickstarter there was a campaign for a man who wanted to make potato salad. He wanted to raise $10, but he raised about $50,000. Not a big deal, people having fun, a silly project gone out of control, whatever. But reading through the crowdfunding forums, I came across a lot of people talking about how frustrated it made them because they couldn't raise funding for their girlfriend who had cancer, for their mom who was losing the house, and so on. There's an entire site for crowdfunding medical treatments and saving lives, and people are still backing yet another fancy wallet design, another retro pixelated indie game, etc.

If you give to charities on a regular basis without needing someone to ask you or remind you, wonderful! Most causes need to campaign to get the funds they need and social media is a new tool for getting the word out. If the challenge is even bringing in a fraction more support to the cause after the challenge fades out, that's more positive than people tweeting about whatever inane thing Justin Kardashian Spears is drinking and driving this week. 

 So please, there are a lot of things not perfect in this world, but can we please focus less on them and more on the good they are doing? Or at least, be thankful that something is being done about the bad?