by Olivia Pla
Chances are if you have any kind of social media, you have seen countless videos of people participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge involves the choice of either dumping a bucket of ice water on yourself or donating to the ALS Association. After making the choice, one must nominate three other people to complete the challenge within 24 hours.
Though the challenge seems harmless, it has had several unintended effects. The challenge originally started with the goal of raising money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but seems to have strayed from that purpose. I have found that most of my peers participating in the challenge actually know nothing about the ALS Association or the disease. Aside from this unfortunate loss of focus, the challenge has also been a costly endeavor in California especially.
Though the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised about twenty-six times the amount of donations for ALS than it received last year, The Washington Post estimates that five to six millions of gallons of water have been wasted by participants so far. This statistic should be scary for Californians especially, considering the severe drought we have been in for the past three years. Though the challenge is not going to severely worsen our drought or start a drought in other states, the challenge is still wasteful and unnecessary. As if helping our state is not enough motivation, it is now possible to be fined a $500 penalty for “wasting water”. Though a $500 fine should discourage anyone from participating in the challenge, it has not put a significant dent in the amount of participants.
The amount of wasted water that the challenge has caused seems ridiculous considering it is the alternative to donating, which is the real goal. Each time someone chooses to do the challenge instead of donating, the movement loses its purpose a little. Now that the challenge has been in effect for a few months, the original goal of the event is slowly being forgotten. To help ourselves, the state of California, and people suffering from ALS, we should choose the alternative solution of donating to the association instead.
No one seems to be more into the challenge than teenagers, the generation most involved with social media. This age group, however, is not usually known for being particularly affluent. Not many teenagers have $100 to give up to an association they know little to nothing about or want to lose the opportunity for a popular Instagram post. Therefore, the challenge is most popular among teenagers, those who are contributing to the cause the least.
The biggest problem I have with the challenge is what it says about our country as a whole. It is depressing to know that we need some viral event or holiday to get us to be passionate about something. I am not confident that I or any of my peers had ever heard of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis before the challenge swept the nation, and it seems like people still do not know that the acronym stands for. The perceived heroes of the challenge are those who post videos, while the ones actually donating are not recognized with viral fame. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has glorified all the wrong people and further pushed California into its unforgiving drought.
Sources: The ALS Association, The Washington Post, CA.gov