ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Nathan Cheng nominated me to complete the do-stupid-stuff-to-draw-attention-to-a-cause aka ALS ice bucket challenge. I have accepted the challenge by donating to the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis association (ALSA) in memory of my high school principal, Dr. Eric McLaren who recently passed away from ALS. I encourage everybody who sees this to learn more about this debilitating disease and to donate to research by visiting the ALSA website here:

As for the doing stupid stuff part, I have decided to save water by jumping off the Weeks Bridge while on my run. I think this should be an acceptable alternative for most people even though the Charles isn’t quite freezing right now =P. I am going to be nominating my friends Will Pan, Kyle Horimoto, Alan Lee, and Gea Kang.

Here is the video:

Honestly though, I have had some mixed feelings about this whole Ice Bucket Challenge thing. It is basically the age old chain email revamped and made super public for the social media era. Without a doubt, a whole lot of real good is being done (all those dollars don’t lie).

Sort of like that inorganic Starbucks pay-it-forward campaign, I feel like a lot of people are probably donating out of peer pressure and not true charity. As for the spreading awareness part… even though this campaign spreads some awareness of the charitable cause, it really brings a lot more focus to the individual performing the task. It really is an all about me thing. There are a ton of people out there who don’t donate or even mention the charitable cause, which is not at all helpful in my opinion. I believe that even the participants who DO mention and/or contribute to charity, are at least subconsciously expecting to be congratulated for it at some level. I don’t necessarily think that this is bad; it is just something to think about and isn’t quite 100% charity in my opinion.

Another big argument ice bucket challenge haters are making is that they think that all of the money that is going to ALS could/should be better spent with other charities. Although I don’t have any data to back this up, somehow I don’t think that the majority of people who are donating to this cause would have donated to any charity at all otherwise. That is, ALS probably isn’t cannibalizing a majority of charitable donations, but rather are expanding the whole pie. It is better that this $100 million or so is going towards a charitable organization rather than none at all, is it not?

The only definitely bad thing that is coming out of this challenge is the waste of water it’s causing, especially in places like California where there’s an active drought. However, there are definitely ways to get around it (mine, case and point). Although some people are aware of the water problem and try to minimizing it whilst performing their challenges, there are many, many more that don’t. It is unfortunate that so many people are spoiled by the ease of water access in the US.

But like I said earlier—it is impossible to argue against the fact that a lot of real good is being done. It just isn’t being done in the most “efficient” manner. IMO, this is probably a case of the ends (more research dollars) justifying the means (leveraging peer pressure and individual selfishness), with the exception of the water wasting element. If people in drought stricken places can get their act together, then there are definitely a whole lot of positives coming out of this campaign. I’m intrigued to watch the next socially beneficial thing to take the internet by storm… chances are people will tire of this and whatever is next will need to be different in order to succeed. Exciting times to see technology used for good!

EDIT: Ok, I have found out now that there have been people who have actually died trying to complete their challenges… in one instance a teenager jumped off an 80ft cliff, and in a second a garbage can was dropped on the kid’s head, which snapped his neck and killed him instantly. This is definitely another bad thing to come out of this challenge. I feel this is definitely a symptom of individuals trying to make themselves stand out more by doing more and more ridiculous things. The want to be unique and special isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it is when it becomes unsafe. :c.

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