In Defense of the Ice Bucket

A new fad for charity has gone viral in social media. The Ice Bucket Challenge has been going on for about two months, but it has just been in the past two weeks or so that the challenge has skyrocketed. It has helped to raise money and more importantly, awareness of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as ALS. Between July 31 and August 18 of 2013, the charity had raised $1.8 million dollars. In the same time period of 2014, they have raised over $42 million. The rules are simple: first, accept the challenge, and pour ice into a bucket of water; second, you pour the bucket over your head; third, you challenge others by name to do the same. You donate a certain amount if you do the challenge, but if you choose to pass on the challenge (as some have done), you must donate a larger amount. The point of this challenge is obviously to raise money for research, so both challenger and the challenged should donate. That’s the bare bones of the whole thing.

Now to my rant.

I have been following along on social media a certain trend, if you will. Some people deride the challenge as being a “waste of water”, and a “chance at 15 minutes of fame”, and even “selfie grandstanding”. Others think the challenge is stupid because it’s not “jackass” daredevil enough. I have seen friends of friends say that it is better to send bottled water to Africa than to do this challenge. I have seen friends complain about it filling their media feed. Well, my turn to say something.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every day for a month we are inundated in pink. PINK!! And I don’t mean her music, either. Every organization, from the NFL to Hollywood to airlines to grocery stores to every single thing wears or decorates in pink to “bring awareness” of cancer. Hell, you can get a Kitchen Aid® mixer in a special shade of pink just for that campaign. They wear pink to “support awareness”. What the hell does that do? Who DOESN’T support awareness?? Putting a pink ribbon on everything doesn’t mean a thing. Most people are not aware that when they buy a pink ribbon pencil or a pink ribbon apron that the money is not necessarily earmarked for a breast cancer research foundation like the Susan G. Komen Foundation™. In fact, most of it isn’t. Only certain things specifically endorsed as having its proceeds go to a foundation are earmarked. But people still do it, and charities (plural) raise MILLIONS towards research. And yet some of the same people who complain about the Ice Bucket Challenge have no problem with Pink October. Seems a bit hypocritical to me.

Look, I’m not saying you have to do the challenge. I’m not saying don’t send water to Africa. And I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t donate to breast cancer research. What I am saying is, no harm, no foul. You don’t like it on your feed, adjust your damn settings and quit complaining. Social media doesn’t belong to you. This has done more to increase donations to a worthy cause than anything I can recall. I do think that whole “it wastes water” is a bunch of hooey, seeing as most of the water ends up on a lawn in most videos. But it makes you seem rather small when you complain about a challenge that is harmless to you and to the participant. My grandmother-in-law passed away from ALS, and a very good friend of mine has lost family members to it, and now her mother has it. Unlike breast cancer, ALS cannot be treated so research is vital. Taking the challenge is a way to show others that you aren’t afraid. If you would rather donate directly, as we do every year, go to the ALS Association website.

And enjoy the fact that you can help, and cool off at the same time 🙂

About LC Aggie Sith

Machete-wielding zombie killer when not shopping for shoes. View all posts by LC Aggie Sith

15 responses to “In Defense of the Ice Bucket

  • Dave C

    Thanks for this. My wife and I had this same talk just last night.

  • lugubriousd

    I still think it’s stupid, but my uncle lived with ALS for twenty years. I’d very much like to see it cured.

  • Lemur King

    I think I’d rather just donate or not, without the water stuff because it is secondary to the real issue, but you have to admit it is a hell of a marketing “tactic”.

    A childhood friend’s mom was diagnosed with ALS last year. I have known lots with breast cancer. And I know plenty of other people with lung, brain, and pancreatic cancer (lots of those), and all of those in my family and my “adoptive mom”. They are all crappy ways to die, so why glamorize any one of them?

    I guess what I feel is that pushing any one as THE disease to fund is kind of wrong because they all suck. They all kill, and none of them in a pretty way. Donate where your heart leads you, I say. Plenty of worthy causes.

    Hope I didn’t come across pissy there…

  • Mitchell

    I went largely unplugged for two weeks and was then suddenly dunked into a world where people all over TV were dunking buckets of ice water over their heads for no observable or explained reason. For a while I thought I’d wandered into the Twilight Zone.

    Per your explanation isn’t it actually better for the charity for people to *forego* the dunking and pay the additional amount? Or I guess the dunking and the youtubing thereof accords a higher ROI over all.


    *Throws a bucket of ice water at you*

  • RabidAlien

    I’m of the opinion that the donations in and of themselves are a good thing (as you said….$42M will buy a lot of ammo…er…research). I’m also of the opinion that the videos are annoying. Personally, I am MUCH less likely to donate or fund or share or even read any more about anything that tries to guilt-trip me into doing _____. “You’re not Christian if you don’t forward this”, “you’re not patriotic if you delete this” blah blah blah. And as LK put it, there are a LOT of insanely worthy causes out there, pretty much every cause that lists a mortality rate is worthy. I can’t donate to all of them, simply because my three-penny donation will cost the charity more to process than the donation amount. I also figure this is sorta like the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where everyone suddenly gets bonus GoodWill Towards Men (with +5 to Donate To Salvation Army), and then forget all about the homeless the day after Christmas. On the other hand, I have to give props to whomever thought this up and then sat back and smiled as it went viral. Simple, cost them nothing and $42 FRIKKIN MILLION IN RETURN. The .gov needs to take notes here.

    • LC Aggie Sith

      Donations to any worthwhile charity are always a good thing. The pressure, however, we can all do without 😀

      • RabidAlien

        I always try to find out other little details about an organization before I donate. Things like “overhead” and “CEO’s salary”, find out how much of my dollar is actually going towards whatever the cause is. I have a very hard time justifying donating to a non-profit organization who’s CEO pulls in high-6 or low-7 figure incomes. Screw that, I’m not giving money to pay some rich douchebag. There are always other charities that contribute to the same causes.

  • Pumpkin Pie

    Wow. LC Aggie Sith has spoken… 😀

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