Thursday, August 21, 2014

ALS Challenge FAQ

Read the following articles for a great overview of this phenomenon. I have tried to summarise key points below with a dash of some of my own opinions.


Is it the first time this has happened?

No. Viral social media campaigns have been doing the rounds since ages now. Google ‘No Make Up Selfie’, ‘Kony’, ‘Chillin4Charity’ (which actually is the predecessor of the current ice bucket challenge.)

Does this really help?

Well, from a philosophical point of view, there are different approaches to what deserves more attention, which charities are high up on the priority list and how people should be made aware of more pressing causes first. But simply put, we are in a dynamic, competitive market place, and it is no different for charities. This one snow-balled, like few others in the past and more good things are coming out of it than the bad, so yes, it is making a difference. To start with it has raised millions for the ALS charity based in USA, it might help fund more research to help cure the cause and it is spreading awareness about this disease.

Is it really spreading awareness now, I think people are ignorantly joining the bandwagon.

Well, it could be that some people are not aware of what they are up to, they might not be donating either. But again, I would rather believe those who are aware and donating are exponentially higher in number than those who are doing it only for some random attention. And personally, I believe any PR is good PR. If nothing else, they are adding to the digital voice of the campaign, one tweet, one video at a time. So you end up with the following main actions:

-         - Do the challenge and don’t donate
-         - Do the challenge and donate
-         - Donate and don’t do the challenge
-         - Don't do anything 

Who knows which charities are all the donations being made to, personally as far as an ALS charity somewhere is benefiting it is great. Actually, even if people are donating to any local charity it is a positive ripple effect of this campaign. Not that there will be many in this category but then like any PR is good PR, any charity is good charity.

But they are wasting water.

Wasting? Didn’t we just establish that there is a 'good' by-product of this madness? I call this madness as we all know that in today’s times social behaviour has changed manifold. We need something that entices us, makes us feel important and helps us be a part of a group, all working towards something special. And that’s why we need this action of throwing a bucket full of iced water and sharing it on social media. People live by these rules and so organisations and campaigns use this to their benefit.

Do you think a basic call to action would help ALS raise the amount of money they did in such a short span of time? I don’t think so.

I digress, sorry. So coming back to the water-issue. You feel we were better off using that water and all that money used in buying the ice and the carbon foot print of making all this ice for a more worthy case? In my opinion it is not wasting a resource, there is a clear value exchange. It all depends on what perspective you are looking at this from.

Remember obesity and malnutrition? Droughts and floods? Oh wait, rich and poor?

Anything else?

Random, but not sure if the effect of the campaign would be even more if in medical terms there was one term used to describe this disease. I know ALS is a type of MND and different medical terms are prevalent in different countries. Many people might be aware of MND only, many are now aware of ALS only, but it would be great to have everyone aware of MND and ALS to join the movement.