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Why I dodged the Ice Bucket Challenge


Only in the 21st century will you find people exploiting an illness for “likes.” From Facebook to Instagram, plus every tweet in between, our social networks show us that people only care about what it is cool to care about at a given moment.

We saw it in 2012 when everyone changed their default photos to black screens in homage to Trayvon Martin, who was taken from us too soon, and we see it today as everyone dumps water over their heads to “raise awareness” for ALS.

There is nothing but goodness about our generation utilizing social networks as platforms to raise awareness for such important issues. But, we have created a false sense of a job well done, complacency, when we could have taken steps outside the computer screen and actually written to congress, protested, developed a walk to raise funds or even visited someone suffering from ALS.

Sound extreme? Unfortunately, it does to many, because the new norm for advocacy is only a short click away.

Out of all the people who got their friends and followers to give ALS a second look by replicating a scene from “Flashdance,” how many of these so-called advocates can actually tell you what ALS is?

I won’t be a hypocrite and act as though I know any more than Google’s definition, but upon being moved to do further research, I found that the word “amyotrophic” comes from the Greek language. ‘A’ means no, or negative, ‘myo’ refers to muscle and ‘trophic’ means nourishment – “no muscle nourishment.”

When a muscle has no nourishment, it wastes away, which leads to paralysis and death in the patient’s later stages. I can only imagine how painful this is for the patient and his or her loved ones, so I am repulsed that people post about it with laughs and smiles rather than with a serious demeanor. It is deadly serious to those actually affected by the disease.

Along with the video posts came unclear talk of donations. The bandwagon trend was designed so that if you were tagged and didn’t dump ice water over your head, you had to donate $100 to the ALS Association, but some people used the video as an announcement of their donating. Either way, I don’t believe insufficient funds is our country’s problem when it comes to finding cures, so much as how these funds are distributed.

By now, you know why I believe the ALS Bucket Challenge is insensitive to those fighting ALS, but as a global studies major, raised by my father and mother who did not have running water in their homelands of Portugal and the Dominican Republic, I must tell you how the insensitivity translates beyond borders.

I was stunned to see one cause being supported via stomping on the face of another. Newsflash, America: one in nine people, worldwide, does not have access to clean water.

Water means sanitation and nourishment, which promotes healing. There cannot be cures without water. There cannot be life without water. While some people are dying for lack of this resource, others are so concerned with getting a “like” for fulfilling the hot, new, good deed of the day that they throw this water to waste.

The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.

TV That Matters: “Late Night with Seth Meyers”

Why I dumped ice water on my head this summer