First it was just a video or two. The next day, it was several videos on facebook. Then my sister was nominated, along with pretty much everyone else. Alas, I too have been nominated. You all know what I’m talking about, right? The ALS ice bucket challenge. I have scattered pictures from my own challenge throughout this post.
And there are a couple things that bother me about the way this challenge is making its rounds on social media. The first thing I don’t like is that this challenge is about raising awareness for (or donating money to) ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but barely anyone actually talks about what ALS is. I think it’s great that we have social media challenges about causes, but it’s become more about the social decision of who is nominating who and how people are reacting to cold water being poured on their heads. Do we even know that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects motor neurons, leading to loss of muscle control and sometimes even paralysis? People with ALS might not be able to lift the ice bucket over their heads because their muscles are too weak. Instead of thinking just about the people we’re going to nominate, let’s think about the people that we’re raising awareness for.
The other thing that bothers me is the insane amount of water that we’re wasting to do this. There are a few people who do the challenge in fountains so the water can be reused, but the vast majority of us just dumped a whole bunch of water on the ground. I mean, the ground is cool with that, but it’s still a waste. And there are SO many people, 800 million actually, who don’t have access to clean water to drink, let alone dump over their heads. 270,000 children will die every week because they don’t have access to clean water. You know that scene in The Return of the King movie, where Frodo and Sam are trying to get to Mount Doom? They don’t have a lot of water, but Frodo carelessly lets some spill out of his mouth. I always cringe when I see that because it’s like, “FRODO! Don’t you know water is precious? You have to be more careful with it!” That’s what all those people are screaming at us. I myself lost my brain when we were filling up the bucket, and I wasted more water than I would have wanted.
So I came across the Clean Water Challenge. We still get to dump water over our heads and donate to ALS if we want. But we also have to donate $10 to Charity: Water. (I got the numbers about people without water from these two sources). They donate 100% of their proceeds to funding water projects. So that’s what I’m going to do. I dumped the ice water, I’m donating to ASL research, and I’m giving $10 to Charity: Water. I don’t just want to do this just to do it. I want to make a difference. And I’m challenging you to do the same.