Another week, another hashtag. The latest craze to take over the internet is the #IceBucketChallenge, which involves pretty much exactly what you would expect from a title like that. Participants are nominated by friends to dump freezing cold water all over themselves – if they renege on the challenge, they are required to make a $100 donation to The ALS Association. It’s all in aid of fighting ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a nerve disorder which affects the brain and spinal cord.
Celebrity ice bucketers so far include Justin Timberlake and his former ‘N Sync bandmate Lance Bass, TV host Matt Lauer, actor Ansel Elgort, and lifestyle queen Martha Stewart. And now the trend has made its way into the tech industry, with Apple SVP Phil Schiller and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking part. Zuck followed his challenge by nominating Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and famed philanthropist Bill Gates.
The ice bucket challenge is the creation of ALS sufferer Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with the debilitating disease in 2012. “This is a creative way to spread ALS awareness via social media and in communities nationwide,” says Barbara Newhouse, Head of The ALS Association. “We thank Pete Frates and his family for getting so many people involved in spreading the word about ALS.”
There is a slight issue with that ‘raising awareness’ thing, though, when famous participants like Matt Lauer neglect to even mention the illness during their ice bucket video. Jacob Davidson at TIME is concerned that the challenge has become a bandwagon for public figures seeking a PR opportunity, and that the message is in danger of being lost.
“The viral nature of this fad appears centred around an aversion to giving money,” he says. “The challenge even seems to suggest that being cold, wet and uncomfortable is preferable to fighting ALS… Ice Bucket defenders would argue this is all just meant to ‘raise awareness’, meaning those who participate are still doing good without donating. ALS needs all the awareness it can get, but somehow I doubt many learned a whole lot from contextless tweets of wet celebs smiling and laughing.”
The campaign has raised more than $2.3 million since it started last month. If freezing your nips off doesn’t sound like much fun, you can find out more about supporting The ALS Association at http://www.alsa.org/.