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Too Cool To Care – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 20, 2014

(Edited for language and to remove some of the more ‘angry’ parts [2014-08-22] SM)

I recently had the distinct displeasure of ‘chatting’  about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge… in which the challenge is issued by pouring a bucket of ice water over ones own head, then challenge someone else to do the same, or make a donation to ALS. This has been a very successful viral fund raising campaign that has donation rates running at over 10X the amounts collected during the same period last year. That is of course substantial, especially for an affliction like ALS, that is rather rare, takes away the voice of the sufferers, and is hence low profile; the sufferers are out of sight and out of mind. Before I get to the meat of the matter, (figures US) some facts:

The average ALS sufferer has a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years after diagnosis.

ALS is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population annually.

Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year.

As many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.

There is no cure, and no effective therapy.

Riluzole appears to extend life somewhat when introduced early, but has little noticeable effect on quality of life.

What made me decide to write this was the number of tweets I’ve seen on twitter the last few days deriding and ridiculing the Ice Bucket Challenge, as well as some attacking motives, insulting the people involved, and one in particular calling the participants “tight hipster morons”. I won’t address those that are beneath contempt or reply. Those I will address, and I’ve seen them repeated:

Why couldn’t they just donate money?

They are just doing it for publicity.

It’s silly.

-and my personal favorite-

It wastes water

I know very few like to actually think, but bear with me here as I run through these one at a time…

First, “Why couldn’t they just donate money?”

Who says they haven’t. Why does it have to be either/or? This is an unofficial fundraiser that went viral. There are no rules. What kind of addled, binary thought process leads there? Perhaps they couldn’t afford to contribute money, but still wanted to do what they could to help by spreading the word.

“They are just doing it for publicity.”

Maybe they are doing it for fun. Maybe they like getting others involved. Maybe they get a sense of community. Maybe they honestly want to promote a good cause. Or maybe, just maybe, they ARE only doing it for publicity and ego. And if that is true, so what? How does that harm anything? Should we stop a wildly successful fundraiser for a deadly disease because someone doesn’t approve of an ego massage? Don’t you think that maybe that is an inverted set of priorities? Fundraiser to combat deadly disease  vs. individual’s disapproval…  Hmmm… How is publicity used to draw attention to a worthy cause, in this case the fight against ALS, any different than movie trailers, cereal advertisements, or… OR… you posting your poorly formed thoughts and arguments on twitter or facebook? Do you NOT want them noticed? Is the fact that donation rates over this period are running at 10X the level of the same period as last year not tell you it is effective? But no, you would rather we stop this annoying publicity, and shuffle those sufferers of motor neuron diseases back into the shadows so you don’t need to be confronted with it. Your ice waters run pretty damn shallow.

“It’s silly.”

Yes, it is. I’ve said that myself. Has nothing whatsoever to do with a serious disease. Neither does almost any other annual or seasonal fundraiser I can think of. It is a bit of whimsy. I know it may not have been considered by some of you uptight killjoys, but other people sometimes like to have a bit of fun. And when a good cause benefits, who cares if it is silly?

And finally, “It wastes water”.

This may shock you, but the entire planet is not suffering from drought. In fact there are mighty rivers that spill into the sea. INTO THE SEA! It is happening RIGHT NOW dammit! Or are you under the impression that if that water wasn’t used for this challenge, it would somehow turn the Sahara into a green oasis? When was the last time you took a shower? How much water did you use? Ever leave the water running while you brushed your teeth? How about water a lawn or wash a car? What happens to the water that runs through your gutters? Your mindless hypocrisy is what you are drowning in.

If you don’t approve, don’t participate. Have a nice leisurely no-one-gives-a-rats-ass-what while others contribute. If you want to quietly contribute, go right ahead. I’m not aware of any rules demanding you pour ice water over your head on camera before you can do so. Don’t want to contribute? Then who are you to criticize anyone else for pitching in with whatever works? Get stuffed, whiner.

Do you lineup to heckle the Terry Fox run participants because they get tshirts? Repeatedly call the Muscular Dystrophy telethon and hangup because you don’t like Jerry Lewis? Steal the remembrance day poppy boxes because you are a pacifist?

There is nothing easier in the world to do then criticize others. You are against everything. Well that’s great. What alternative would you suggest? What are you FOR? Nothing? Didn’t think it through? Well toddle off then and come back when you have an original thought, instead of casting aspersions on people that are trying to make the world you hate a little bit better.


These are not hypotheticals. ALS and other diseases that kill actual people really do exist. People will continue to suffer and die while you pat yourself on the back over your imagined superiority, try to think up new things to be against, and weigh human suffering against buckets of water. One of them was from my hometown, Sam Cole. He was a few years older than me, but of course being a small town, we knew each other. We played darts and had beers together. He was a guy with a ready smile, that never complained, that everyone liked. He was friends with my brother and sister. He was a real person… a good person. This was him:

From → Activism, Outrage

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