Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yes, We're Fully Aware

Well hello again, lovely sheeple.  I’m not sure how you managed to graze your way over here, but welcome.  It’s been over a year and a half since my last blog post.  My blog gets about as much traffic as the moon, so I said “fuck it” and haven’t written anything on here because, well, why bother?  But lately something has been getting under my skin enough to dust off the old blog and get back to offending some of you delicate flowers once again.  Today’s topic: the ever popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

If you’re on any social media, you have no doubt seen video after video of people doing something called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  This is where people pour ice cold water over themselves, and then list a few people who should do the same.  The supposed purpose of this act of stupidity is to “raise awareness” for ALS (AKA Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.  This Ice Bucket Challenge has also been for other diseases or afflictions, but ALS seems to be the most popular one lately.

Now that we know what it is, let’s go ahead and find out why it’s fucking stupid.  I’ve always had a problem with “awareness” campaigns.  I’ve written about this before.  This post could actually be a part two, or continuation of this one that I wrote back in June of 2011:

Unless you’ve lived in a cave your whole life, I’d say it’s safe to say that we’re all “aware” of all these terrible diseases and afflictions.  ALS, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, lupus, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, etc…these things aren’t brand new in 2014.  They’ve been around for a very long time.  Trust me, we’re aware.

Now let’s get back to this ice water thing.  The rules of this challenge are pretty simple.   Players have 24 hours to either pour a bucket of ice cold water over their head on camera or contribute money to the charity of their choice. After they’ve made their decision, they appoint three more people to do the same.  Please let me point this out again:  People are doing this to AVOID donating to a charity.  If you are reading this right now, and you have participated in this Ice Bucket Challenge, you are essentially telling the whole world, “I would rather pour frigid ice water all over my body than to give a single cent to charity.”  But hey, your video got a bunch of likes on Facebook, so it’s all good, right?  You, sir or ma’am, are a shit bag.  Let’s face it, you didn’t do this to raise awareness or be charitable, you’re just another asshole with a camera phone who’s seeking attention on social media.  Congratulations.

Now, granted, this viral challenge has proven to bring in money.  The ALS Association told Fox Boston that it has raised $1.35 million in the past two weeks. It raised just $22,000 in the same period last year.  That’s fantastic, of course….especially for the people who suffer from this disease.  But let’s get back to the root of this viral ice water campaign, which is to raise awareness.  When you watch all of these videos of people doing this, how many of them actually describe to the viewers what ALS is?  What kind of toll does ALS have on the human body?  How many people are currently diagnosed with this illness?  What are the early warning signs?  Nobody bothers to mention any of this.  So much for awareness, eh?  Even though this viral campaign has brought an increase in donations (albeit mostly from celebrities), most of you average joes out there are merely making these videos to showcase your willingness to be fun and silly on camera in exchange for likes on Facebook. Some of you do-gooders might have even given five or ten bucks after pouring ice water on yourself, but then it begs the question: Why didn’t you just donate that to begin with?  Why the charade?  Being charitable isn’t really your concern.  Being popular on social media is, though.  “How many likes will this get on Facebook?  How many favorites will this get on Twitter?  Everyone’s attention will be on ME!!!”  If your sole reason for donating to anything is for a viral social media popularity campaign (a donation that you otherwise wouldn’t have made), then you are not charitable.  You’re just a douchebag, so get off of your soapbox.

For the most part, I would compare this ice water nonsense to prayer.  It makes you feel good about yourself for doing something, without ever actually doing something.  For example, it’s winter time and you see a homeless person, who is cold, sitting on a street corner.  You are now “aware” of him.  You can pray for him, feel sorry for him, and feel compassion for him.  Guess what…none of those things are going to keep him warm.  A blanket and hot meal will, though.  This is action versus awareness.  If you really want to make a difference and help, take some real action.  Just simply donate directly to the charity or research foundation of your choice.  No gimmicks, no publicity stunts, no whoring yourself out for Facebook likes.  Do it because you genuinely care about helping people.  Most people will donate to causes that they are personally affected by.  For me, I regularly donate to fund cancer and diabetes research.  I wish I could afford to donate to every charity, but I’m a middle-class American, which equates to me being poor as fuck.

In closing, just know that your awareness doesn’t do anything for anybody.  Action helps people.  Donating your time or money helps people.  Dumping ice water on yourself to avoid these things just makes you an asshole.  Cheers.

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