Throughout the news feeds of many social media accounts, videos of people dumping ice and water on themselves are becoming a common sight. The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge is gathering much attention to raise awareness and donations. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, it is a neurodegenerative disorder; the gradual degeneration of the brain, spinal cord and other nerve cells leads to loss of muscle control, muscular atrophy and eventually death, according to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA). The social media event serves to spread awareness and to raise money for research, since there is no definite cure as of now.
While the challenge’s rules do ensure that more people know about the challenge itself, it does not ensure that the people “tagged” to do the challenge understand the purpose of the event. A large number of people who do the challenge don’t provide information on ALS. Instead, they produce a short video: dump water on themselves, “tag” three other people and move on. As a result, many people continue to become more aware of the challenge rather than the disease itself; the attention the challenge comes with has much more potential to educate as well.
Also, the spread of the event has led to multiple tweaks to the rules it originally had. If the people selected had completed the challenge, they would only be obligated to donate $10. People who did not pour ice and water on themselves would donate $100. Now, many believe that by finishing the challenge, they are exempt from donating. Therefore, many who complete the challenge do so in order to not donate money, which does not correlate with its original goal of supporting ALSA.
ALSA has already received $53.3 million through the challenge as of Aug. 22, 53 times the amount of money donated last year. However, the changes to the rules and the brief videos continue to decrease the influence the Ice Bucket Challenge could potentially have.