Buckets of ice, water and videos
For the last few weeks, you can't log into Facebook or other social media without being confronted with reams of posts from people uploading their video of the Ice Bucket challenge - often called the ALS ice bucket challenge. Like the "no-make-up selfie" trend that was popular a few months ago, what has been impressive has not only been the speed at which the campaign has spread but also for the fact that this was not initiated directly by a charity - it's come by viral sharing and at some point has been linked with support for ALS research. It's been the use of video throughout the challenge that has caught my attention though - almost every posting includes video rather than pictures.
It's underlined how easy it has become to shoot and rapidly upload video content - something that even a few years ago would have involved a lot more effort. Thinking about how to quickly turn around effective videos, often filmed on small cameras or mobile phones is something we are keen to help charities with. I have kept my frustration in check at the number of videos posted where the filming has been in portrait, rather than landscape format!
To ice or not to ice?
I've been waiting with some trepidation for the nomination to come, and finally yesterday, I was tagged in my sister's video and post. Thanks, little sister!
Why trepidation? I'm not particularly bothered about cold, icy water - I scuba dive and sail in all kinds of weathers and sea temperatures. I have no qualms about giving to charity - I regularly donate via direct debit to a number of charities and respond to other one-off appeals. I'm not totally averse to making a fool of myself (although I usually try not to let this get posted on social media!). I think the trepidation comes from finding myself caught between a number of opinions and positive and negative reactions to the whole thing. A good friend of mine, Laura Cook, posted the reasons on her blog why she was declining the Ice Bucket challenge - a very reasoned and impassioned essay on the pros and cons. There are a stack of other posts online - some in support and some criticising the trend.
So, should I do it? Here's a quick precis of the things that have gone through my mind:
1) It's wasteful of water: This has been a common criticism, which I think has some validity, but to be honest, it's no more wasteful than flushing the toilet one extra time. We flush our toilets with fresh drinking water every day, several times without thinking. In addition, a lot of charity events involve some form of spend - be it the cost of a skydive, down to branded t-shirts on charity runs (and there's probably more than a bucket of water used in the overall creation of a t-shirt) . So, yes, I think awareness of water waste is something to think of and certainly in countries where there is ongoing water shortage - but a single bucket doesn't seem to be a major waste in the UK. There have been several different and often inspired takes on the challenge, including the rice bucket challenge in India
2) It's just slacktivism - a term recently coined to express contempt for people who just join the bandwagon of a particular trend in lieu of properly engaging with the issues at hand or making a real difference. However, I don't think that those who do engage and participate in a range of charity engagement will stop doing it. Yes, there are those who just pour a bucket of ice water over their head and probably don't even donate, let alone think about the illness that is being talked about - but for every one of those, there is another person who is donating and another who may think about what they are doing. I don't think anyone can deny that there has been an increase in awareness in what ALS is and the devastating impact of the disease.
3) It shouldn't be about one charity. I'm inclined to agree with this - there are charities that are closer to my heart and I am more engaged in than ALS. I've seen plenty of posts where people have specified an alternative charity, and again, this wasn't an initiative started by the actual ALS Association - so I don't see a particular problem with getting involved with the challenge with a different charity nominated. Ultimately, what I would take issue with are those who just post the video of themselves getting iced without any mention of the reason why or including some mention of a donation.
4) I'm being forced into participating. Nope, this doesn't hold for me. I could decline to take part, I would just have to risk the brief opprobrium from friends on social media. We have the choice to take part or not.
Looks like I've talked myself into taking part here - so here goes: