They said “Don’t worry, your Facebook news feeds and Twitter streams will go back to normal in a week or two.” That comment was about the #IceBucketChallenge videos that continue filling our social media streams. It’s been a couple weeks now, and I don’t see it letting up any time soon. The way the #IceBucketChallenge works is much like multi-level marketing (MLM). That is where one invites three people to a meeting to learn about a product or service. After the sales pitch, they are then shown the “opportunity” on how to make money doing the same thing.
The #IceBucketChallenge is an awareness campaign and fund raiser for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Most people know it as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Someone gets nominated from a friend to make a donation and/or dump ice water over their heads. Like an MLM, the nominee then invites or nominates three others to do the same thing. But, I did see someone break the rules today and he nominated six of his favorite people. They will likely follow suit.
No one has nominated me. It’s a good thing too because I will not take part. While these campaigns might be well intentioned, I think they are misguided. I have a hard time believing large sums of donated money contributes to anything but greed. It might feel good to make a donation. You believe you are doing something worthwhile. But the organization will likely misdirect the funds towards administration costs. Or possibly something worse.
Here is a little perspective on the matter. Jonas Salk didn’t need seventy million dollars to aid in the discovery of a vaccine for polio. He didn’t even patent the vaccine once he created it which would have netted him billions of dollars. He left it as good will for mankind. But, it’s a disease that still exists, and will never be eradicated despite ongoing research. No amount of money will change that. Diseases are money makers. The more diseases there are, more money gets pumped into research to discover a cure. But they don’t want a cure, they want a pharmaceutical solution. When natural cures are discovered, they are made illegal because they can’t be patented. Call me cynical.
I don’t like it that anyone has to suffer for any reason. I know people with cancer, that have suffered heart disease, and other debilitating illnesses. My mom suffered a stroke the year before I was born. I get that people feel sorry that others suffer. But participating in a gimmick will not contribute to finding a cure for an aweful disease. It just won’t. All it does is make you feel good about yourself for doing something. If you truly want to do something then volunteer your time. The problem is that you don’t want to see the disease or what it does to the people afflicted. It’s easier to be narcissistic and show yourself participating in a gimmick for the cause. This is called slacktivism because you are involved without really being involved.
Let me illustrate the result of this new pop culture trend called slacktivism. To celebrate all the causes, let’s get them all out of the way in November. Men (and some women) will grow ugly mustaches for Movember; for prostate cancer awareness. On November 30th they will walk or run in a race for the cure; for breast cancer awareness. While walking or running, they will wear a t-shirt that says “Stupid Cancer”, because cancer can and does get offended. At the end of the race, they will dump ice water on their heads to take part in the #IceBucketChallenge; for ALS awareness. They will also be wearing pink ribbons and various colored wristbands to not leave out any particular cause or charity. And every status update in November will have to be “join me in supporting…” Each status update has to get 10,000 “likes”. If they don’t, everyone participating has to donate $100 to the cure for stupidity (0.01 for each “like”). Sounds like a reasonable awareness campaign and fund raiser to me. Together, we can cure stupidity!