Deciding what to write this week’s column on was tough, as so much has happened in the social media world over the past few days. From Greggs’ Google fail to baby wombats to Taylor Swift’s new video, the internet has successfully distracted me from working on my internship, so hats off to you all.
However, when I came across the latest internet sensation – the ice bucket challenge – I knew that there was nothing else I could write this column about. I have gone through all stages of emotion this week with this trend: confusion, fear, elation, and tears – from both laughter and sadness.
#ALSIceBucketChallenge has been top of the worldwide trending list for days on end now, with multiple BuzzFeed articles, celebrities are jumping on board, and the craze even has its own Wikipedia page. Kettle gives you the full low-down on the challenge, along with the best bits.
When I first saw this online, I had no idea what it was, but didn’t have to research long to find out. Simply put (according to Wikipedia, naturally), the ice bucket challenge is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and encourage donations to research around it.
So what is ALS? I am slightly ashamed to admit I had to research this too, as I honestly had no idea. After hearing it is also known as motor neurone disease in the UK, I realised I knew more about what its symptoms involved.
In basic terms ALS is a progressive disease that attacks the nerves (motor neurones) in the brain and spinal cord. This means that electric messages will gradually stop reaching muscles, leaving weakness and wasting, and eventually one’s ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe can deteriorate. There is currently no cure.
So although it seemed pretty ridiculous at first, with seemingly little connection between the disease and the challenge itself (although ultimately, less controversial than the no make-up selfie and less dangerous than NekNominations), I stopped being sceptical after reading that the challenge raised $8.6 million in donations in just one day. More than $22 million has been raised in total upon publication date of this article, and records have been broken.
The ALS Association said in a statement: “Increased awareness and unprecedented financial support will enable us to think outside the box.” And with that amount of money, they can do so much to help sufferers and importantly, research to find a cure.
But why has so much money been raised, and why has it become a huge social craze? Of course because it’s for a good cause, but I can guarantee that the fact celebrities are getting involved has a lot to do with it.
The tears (of laughter)
A number of celebrities have really come up trumps this time and have released some excellent takes on the challenge. Here are Kettle‘s top picks – I’m sure you’ll quickly work out why I chose a couple of them…
Wow, check out some of those name drops…
After discovering the Vine below I was tempted to take back my comment about the challenge not being too dangerous, but I’ve decided that the person who chucked a bucket at this guy’s head is the one to blame here.
Oh, and this:
Me and John doing the ice bucket challenge back in the day pic.twitter.com/M61AwJC5PE
— Jesus Christ (@Jesusontwittorr) August 23, 2014
The tears (of sadness)
Tears of laughter and name-dropping aside, the video below really got me (I’d definitely rate it as NSFW, because you are highly likely to cry). I went from tears of laughter to tears of sadness within six minutes.
I wanted to finish my column on the video above, because it’s just so powerful. Anthony demonstrates exactly why this cause is so important and how devastating the disease can be – and even just having more money to work on treatment for the symptoms of ALS will make a difference. The above note in relation to ALS should be the one we keep in mind, regardless of the celebrities.
This final video also shows the power of the internet in one of its finest, and most beautiful and charitable, forms. Keep it going on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, whatever you can. Raise awareness and keep on donating. Prove that the internet can be used for something great.
Oh, and you were wondering about the fear? Yeah. I’m just scared of being nominated for the challenge myself…
Please donate to the ALS Association here.
Let us know your thoughts on this week’s social craze in the comments below!
Featured photo: Andy Rogers / Flickr
Videos: YouTube, Instagram, Vine