Did you miss me? I’m back, and with me I bring my views on this latest social media phenomenon.
So, for anyone living under a rock, the Ice Bucket Challenge is where you throw a bucket of ice water over your head, film it, and challenge other people. Oh, and also somewhere along the line you donate to some money to research into a cure for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Motor Neurone Disease). It looks a bit like this.
Unlike the “no make-up selfie“, this trend, which as shown in the video has been taken on by many high-profile celebrities across the world, does at least have some relevance to the cause. Apparently, being drenched in Ice Water simulates some of the sensations of ALS, so by dunking yourself in ice-water it’s a bit of showing solidarity, as well as giving to charity. I have no idea if this is true, it’s just a thing I heard. But charity.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that.
Today, I was informed by social media that the ALS campaign has raised over $50 million dollars.
And again, don’t get me wrong, because I really am all for that.
So, what’s the issue? Well, please excuse the terms I’m about to use, because they are slightly strong, but I feel like they are a good way of making the point. $50 million dollars is an amazing amount, and will feed into a lot of amazing research into ALS. But that same $50 million could be absolutely instrumental in wiping out a range of diseases which ravage the developing world. Their cures are already known, and vaccinations cost hardly anything, but instead we do no make-up selfies, or dump water over ourselves, to raise money for research into “white” diseases.
This is what I was apologising for just now. It seems to me that social media is great at funding huge projects when it’s a sob story of a sad white person. Let’s get the research done so less people die of cancer. That’d be great. But why can’t we also use all that fundraising impetus to feed and cure the world? Cause, plenty of not-white people would also struggle with cancer if they lived that long. For decades people have been trying to incite fundraising towards these issues in the developing world, and it’s less effective because it’s a “not-white-people” problem. Sorry again, these are very bare statements.
Now, the fundamental part of this all is not the money thing, it’s the time thing. I am such a huge fan of the effort people have put into the ALS campaign, as I was (to some extent) with the selfie-for-cancer campaign, because I think having a generous soul is the best thing in the world. The thing is, to wipe a deadly disease off the map is a million times easier if everyone can be vaccinated at once. Which is why if there was a campaign to raise money for, say, the GAVI campaign which delivers life-saving vaccinations to children across the globe, that $50 million could do some amazing, instant good because of being concentrated over a short space of time.
I do not suggest that anyone chooses not to donate to the ALS campaign, or any other charitable campaign which means something to you. However, if you do want your contribution to be activism, not slacktivism (new favourite word), please consider donating to a cause which will have an immediate benefit humanitarian benefit, as well as those which will one day bring about vital cures.
This hasn’t been very well written (I’m tired), so I’ll try and come back to it, but basically, don’t forget that while the search for a cure to cancer is so important, the destruction of death by something so simple to cure as diarrhea is really important as well. If you are
lucky enough to be in a position to do so, please consider a donation towards both.
EDIT: Also freerice.com. Go there and do the things. Now. It’s going on my HabitRPG.