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The Ice Bucket Challenge

I was wondering if ehell would comment about the “ice bucket challenge” movement currently sweeping Facebook. As I understand it, when someone “challenges” you, you have 24 hours to either donate $100 to a charity (ALS research seems to be the most common in the US) or have a bucket of ice water dumped over your head. In some versions, it’s $100 or do the ice bucket and only donate $10. Then you challenge someone(s) else. The majority of the videos are celebrities who can easily afford it. Still, I find the concept of calling someone out in a public way and essentially demanding they donate to the charity of YOUR choice or engage in a ritual of public humiliation extremely rude, besides just being out and out dumb. Yet these videos are all over Facebook and people seem to love them.

It’s currently making the rounds on Facebook among the teenagers and young adults of my acquaintance.   My thought is that, knowing who I see dumping ice water on their heads, it is quite unlikely they donated any money whatsoever due to their own limited financial ability to do so.   I don’t see any information on Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) so the ice water dumping doesn’t appear to even have a positive educational aspect to it.   It’s merely a summer fad…a video form of a selfie doing something everyone else is doing without any real conviction as to why one would submit to being doused with ice water.

I had a chuckle yesterday when a young friend of mine, a mother, mistakenly thought she had been tagged in a Facebook post to do this challenge. Her response was, “Really scared there that you tagged me and I would have to be like: ‘Hahahahahahaaaa. No.'”    You gotta love that gutsy polite spine.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joanna August 21, 2014, 7:49 am

    I have two main thoughts on the subject…

    1) Donate, or don’t donate. It’s your prerogative. But IMO this “challenge” is basically saying that giving to charity is only a preferable choice to having something unpleasant done to you. I know that’s probably not what the original person had in mind, but that’s how it comes off to me.

    2) Yes, awareness is great, but how much of this is REAL awareness? Meaning, after they’ve donated a few bucks and done or not done the challenge, how many of these people will still be thinking of ALS in a month? A year? I doubt many.

  • Hollanda August 21, 2014, 8:02 am

    Interesting debate.

    Whilst I do not like these “awareness campaigns” (they just don’t sit right with me, and cancer is a very personal thing to have to deal with), I will say this. There is a marked increase in the number of patients presenting to their GPs for testing/screening of such cancers/illnesses following a massive media campaign. Now this matters not whether it’s FB, Twitter or simply that the illness features in a popular TV show. What matters is the awareness. I tend to ignore (or at least not focus on) the implication that to do any good people should give money to the cause…not necessarily. Sometimes as humans, things slip our minds and symptoms can be explained away. Media campaigns reiterate that certain symptoms COULD be a manifestation of x, y or z, and should be checked out by a professional. Anything that has the power to do this has to be a good thing, surely.

    I would not pour ice water all over myself. I dislike being cold and wet, but that’s just me. For the record, I have done a lot of fundraising before for various charities.

  • j. August 21, 2014, 8:59 am

    Of course, declining the challenge is an option… except when it isn’t. My husband’s employer decided to participate in the ALS fundraiser, and my husband was nominated to have a bucket of ice water dumped over him. He was informed of this decision after the fact… he wasn’t even at work yesterday, he took a personal day to take care of me since I was having outpatient surgery! He decided not to make a big stink about it, but I wonder how much of that is truly caring about ALS research and how much of that is feeling that the challenge is somewhat coercive when it comes from the people who pay your salary.

    It’s great that so much money has been raised for ALS research. And I am sure that some of the money people are donating would have otherwise been spent on movie tickets or lattes… but some of it would have gone to other similarly worthy causes. I’m sure many people who have been shamed/pressured into giving $100 to ALS research would have given $100 to a food bank or the ASPCA or what have you that month instead. For example, just a few days before my husband was ‘nominated’ for the ice bucket challenge, we made an investment quite a bit larger than $100 to adopt a rescue pet from a wonderful rescue organization… but the people who decided DH must dump a bucket of ice water over his head don’t know that. Because we simply *did* it, and didn’t need to announce to the world what good and charitable people we are with a silly and humiliating stunt.

  • traherne August 21, 2014, 10:31 am

    Funny, because some people were commenting that one of these younger pop singers, Britney Spears or whoever, challenged Madonna to do it and was ignored. The general opinion was that Madonna was being rude. For a minute I thought I was going crazy for thinking it was far ruder to publicly put someone on the spot.

    • Enna August 23, 2014, 10:49 am

      People should have a choice. Pity you can’t nominate someone in private first and if they say yes then do it publically?

  • Arizona August 21, 2014, 11:30 am

    Something I didn’t see in previous comments (though I haven’t read them all yet) that I saw brought up in a different place is the reason BEHIND having a bucket of ice water dumped on your head.

    It’s not just a humiliation thing, “get soaking wet because you didn’t want to give $X to charity and only wanted to give $Y to charity.” From what I recall, one of the effects of ALS is that your muscles can abruptly lock in temporary paralysis (which can grow to full paralysis over time), including the muscles in your chest (such as your diaphragm). Dumping a bucket of ice water over yourself simulates this feeling temporarily, as your muscles will lock at the sudden shock of cold, and give you a brief inside glimpse of what people with ALS live through every day.

    While the form of calling out people to donate to a cause is definitely rude, I don’t see a lot of reason to get up in arms about it. It’s like any other public request for charity; if you don’t want to do it, politely decline (or say nothing) and move on. Odds are that in a few weeks, maybe a month, the fad will be over and no one is going to think twice about whether or not you personally participated while it was happening.

    • Hillary August 23, 2014, 7:41 am

      I think that “reason” evolved after the fact. The very first ice bucket challenges had nothing to do with ALS–awareness or research–but were instead athletes challenging each other to do it or give $100 to the charity of their choice. It’s the reason Matt Lauer didn’t even mention ALS, Lou Gehrig, or anything else before he got soaked. I almost like this idea better, because there are so many worthy charities, but I still dislike the idea that you “must” do it or you “must” give a lot of money just because you were told to.

  • Yet Another Laura August 21, 2014, 11:44 am

    Stuff like this on Facebook, I scroll right past. Ignore!

    Anything of the sort that gets posted to my wall gets deleted at once. It qualifies as a cause and I have warned my friends list that causes are not welcome on my wall, no matter what they are. I could already be donating or volunteering or otherwise supporting it. Down it goes.

  • Floweramon August 21, 2014, 1:05 pm

    A good thing to point out is that most celebrities are both doing the ice bucket challenge AND donating money. They do the challenge to make their fans aware of what’s going on and spread the word about the charity, and then go ahead and support a good cause. If I remember right, Lady Gaga donated $10,000 after she did it. So while I agree that people shouldn’t feel obligated to participate in the challenge (I don’t know if I would if I were called out), I don’t think it’s entirely meaningless and pointless for those that are doing it either.

  • S August 21, 2014, 2:40 pm

    To everyone objecting to the term “party pooper,” I’d like to point out that EHellDame herself used the phrase to describe people who opposed the idea of flash mobs on planes. http://www.etiquettehell.com/?p=2666

    Here’s the quote:

    “What a bunch of party pooping curmudgeons! It’s obvious in the video that the majority of passengers enjoyed the five minute performance as evidenced by how many clapped afterwards. Don’t like it? Close your eyes and put on your noise dampening ear phones. ”

    This advice applies to the Ice Bucket Challenge. A lot of people are enjoying the videos as evidenced by how viral the campaign is and the amount of people participating. Don’t like it? Ignore the challenge if someone tags you in it. Put on your metaphorical noise-dampening ear phones.”

    • admin August 23, 2014, 9:17 am

      If you cannot perceive the difference between being a “party pooper” in a public place where no one is coercing you to participate nor knows your name versus being labeled a party pooper because you did not want to be challenged in public, specifically targeted on social media by name, to give money to a charity you did not know or care to support, then you have a more serious issue with how etiquette works than this site can help you with.

    • Steve August 23, 2014, 5:00 pm

      Seriously? You think what people object to is the presence of some YouTube videos they don’t want to watch?

  • WMK August 21, 2014, 2:59 pm

    I was called out to do this by my older sister but I am currently suffering from a summer cold and have no intention of dumping a bucket of ice water over my head and ending up with something worse than this.

    I would much rather donate a dollar amount that I could afford (if I so choose to do so) than to be told I have to do one or the other.

  • lkb August 21, 2014, 5:31 pm

    I guess I’m just rather “meh” about the whole thing. If someone wants to participate in this fine, if not don’t. But don’t dare shame anyone who chooses not too. It’s their money, their time, their reasons.

    In addition to those mentioned previous, another reason people may choose not to take part in a challenge like this is not knowing where the money will really go to. There have been umpteen so-called “charities” who spend their funds on salaries for their officers etc. and very little for actual research or aid to those with the particular condition the entity was supposed to help. (NOTE: I am NOT saying the ALS association is like this at all.) I hate to be a cynic but there it is…

    Also, the discussion upthread about a CEO donating $10,000 to show support for a colleague with the condition has me pondering: What’s better, giving to an organization like that or donating to someone who actually has the condition?

    Lastly, while I get the spirit of the thing and am happy for the ALS organization for its windfall, I wince at the upcoming onslaught of copycats. Who’s going to do it next? Who’s going to one-up it (with, I dunno, iced red Koolaid etc.)?

    • admin August 21, 2014, 11:06 pm

      According to the ALS Association’s web site, 27% of 2013 revenue went to actual research, 14% to fundraising and 7% administrative costs.

      • lkb August 22, 2014, 9:29 am

        Thanks for providing those figures. However, that only accounts for 48%.

        I am not implying that there is anything untoward about ALS, but when one considers that just over a quarter of proceeds actually goes to research….

        And I know ALS is not alone in this distribution of funds. I always have to question how much “Bang for the Buck”. I wonder how much money goes for advertising, marketing, salaries, facilities etc. I know these things cost money too and charities have to spend to get decent quality people/facilities/promotional items etc, but…

        That said, I would donate to ALS if I had the cash, but in this economy I can well understand people being hesitant to give and being choosy about who gets money and who doesn’t.

        • Mags August 26, 2014, 2:39 pm

          I recently read an article about ALS, and it is a very expensive disease to deal with, so I would imagine that a large chunk of the money went to support patients (e.g. providing motorized wheelchairs or other medical equipment, care centres). That’s just a guess.

        • Goldie August 26, 2014, 3:53 pm

          Four stars on Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3296#.U_zzW2PLLw8

          I’m still not cool with the idea of guilt-tripping millions of people into giving to one charity, rather than having them each give to a different charity of their choice, but at least this is a legitimately good one, which is a relief. Could be much worse.

  • ImJustSaying August 21, 2014, 6:05 pm

    I too, was skeptical and slightly disgusted at the Ice bucket OR donate challenge but most articles I’ve seen about the challenge have said there is a marked increase in donations to the ALS foundation.
    The challenge is Do the Ice bucket in 24 hours of being nominated or donate $100. As others have noted most celebs and I think caring adults are donating and doing the challenge. The ALS foundation is using the power of social media for good. We don’t want to click on a link to just donate but seeing my fave celeb do the challenge and investigating WHY they are dumping ice water on themselves works wonders for spreading awareness.

  • Cassandra August 21, 2014, 9:11 pm

    this is where it started. It’s not about raising money. It’s about raising awareness. So even if someone doesn’t donate money they are at least doing a small part to raise a little awareness about a horrible disease. Better than doing nothing or posting selfies all day.

    • Christina August 29, 2014, 12:44 pm

      Yes, exactly! Certainly better than judging people who do take part just because they think it is silly.

  • CharlotteVera August 21, 2014, 11:33 pm

    I think some good *can* come of it. A friend whose husband suffers from the disease recently posted a link to an event they took part in: http://m.tulsaworld.com/news/education/ice-bucket-craze-sweeps-into-tulsa/article_59f90588-a151-5205-9a4e-16cdbd9342fc.html?mode=jqm

  • Jessica August 22, 2014, 10:09 am

    I think ALS is one of the lesser known causes and doesn’t get as much attention as the big ones like breast cancer, so I think it’s great that they’re getting all these donations. That being said, when I first heard of the ice bucket challenge, the challenger picked a charity of their choice. So it wasn’t just ALS, it was whatever cause was important to the challenger. It’s still the same concept of being pressured by peers that admin is talking about. I would rather see a challenge on facebook where someone posts, “I donated $x to (whichever charity) because this cause is important to me, I challenge my facebook friends to also donate what they can to a charity that is important to them”. No calling people out, no specifying certain dollar amounts, just doing good. I haven’t been challenged yet, thank goodness. I don’t have the financial means to donate at the moment, and I’m certainly not filming myself dumping ice water on my head, sorry. Last week I donated a total of $100 to two different causes that were important to me, so it’s not that I don’t want to be charitable.

  • Drew Jacobs August 22, 2014, 11:46 am

    It is merely people having fun. And for your information they have gone from 1.6 million dollars in donations to ALS to 23 million. If you haven’t heard anything about it you must be looking in the wrong places. People can so choose whether or not to do it. There is no negative side to it. You do it or you don’t and money is still donated. It’s fun to see the videos and I enjoy it. You might not but others do so don’t make assumptions, just learn what a polite spine is if you are challenged.

  • Mamabulldog August 23, 2014, 2:13 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Admin!!!!! You said exactly what I’ve been thinking!

  • iridaceae August 23, 2014, 3:50 am

    They had the head of the charity which will receive the money on the Friday PBS Newshour. She said the challenges have raised $53 million so far. There are worse places for $53 million to end up.

    Is it a fad? Sure. Does the challenge educate anyone? No probably not but then neither does ringing a bell for the Salvation Army at Christmastime.

  • kingsrings August 23, 2014, 5:44 pm

    I refuse to support this challenge and am against it for all the reasons already mentioned here. For that, I have been called insensitive, snarky, self-centered, and heartless. Which makes me not want to do it even more so. You can kill more flies with honey than vinegar, folks.

  • grumpy_otter August 24, 2014, 6:09 pm

    The whole thing makes me angry because diseases should not have to hold bake sales to get the funding they need to do their research.

    Additionally, more money does not equal a cure.

  • just4kicks August 25, 2014, 5:25 am

    I will say, at least to my typically self absorbed teenagers, it opened up a dialogue in our family about ALS. My dad has been struggling with MS for years, and one of my son’s asked if ALS is the same as MS. My husband had a good friend who just passed from ALS a few years ago. It’s a terrible disease, and my kids and I are having a hard time watching my dad/their grandpa deteriorate. It may be silly to have ice water dumped on your head, but in terms of the money it’s raised and the spreading awareness to this awful disease I think it’s a good thing!

    • Christina August 29, 2014, 12:42 pm

      Exactly! My father also suffers from MS. Not once did I think to myself that it should be about MS and not ALS. I am so happy it is finally getting attention. This is a good thing. I can’t believe people are judging it so negatively. Its fun, got people interested, raised awareness, and raised tens of millions of dollars. All positives in my book.

  • just4kicks August 25, 2014, 5:28 am

    On a separate and sad note, my husband saw something in the papers about two firemen who were killed after going up on their fire truck to dump water on colleagues. They hit a power line on the way down and both men were electrocuted.

  • Kirst August 25, 2014, 12:03 pm

    I don’t think admin’s friend was showing a gutsy polite spine – her response was just passive aggressive. A gutsy polite spine would have been “no, I’m not doing that.”

  • Julia August 26, 2014, 10:07 am

    ?? In what way is this possibly rude? If you get nominated and don’t want to do it, who cares? Don’t do it. Meanwhile, a whole lot of people are having fun and raising some serious money to help combat a horrible disease. It’s a good thing. If you think it’s silly, ignore it. If you think there are better ways to raise money for a good cause, start your own trend. If you don’t want to watch videos of smokin’ hot celebrities in wet shirts, don’t watch them. More for me to watch!

    • Christina August 29, 2014, 12:39 pm


  • Paige August 28, 2014, 11:49 am

    I cannot stress enough that I am SO TIRED of this challenge. There are lots of diseases we should support finding a cure for and I am not sure why ALS has been chosen as this temporary golden child. I have no issue’s with donating to find a cure but I will not be partaking in this nonsense.

  • Christina August 29, 2014, 12:38 pm

    Wow, I so disagree. Has anyone actually looked into how much money this stunt raised??? Its staggering. Tens of millions of dollars. Its not silly… and not every person has to donate. It is about awareness. And it worked!! Beautifully!! Millions of people now know what ALS is whether they donated or not. And if I can’t afford to donate, but I do the challenge, everyone on my fb sees that I did it and it spreads information. If the ice bucket part wasn’t a part of this, it wouldn’t catch anyone’s attention. And I did take part. I chose to take part. It wasn’t humiliating or degrading. And no one forced anyone to do it. So I don’t see how it could be portrayed as such. It was a fun experience and I felt apart of something bigger than myself and helped make a difference. You don’t agree? Don’t participate. Or donate. My father suffers from MS. I didn’t freak out and say I only support MS research. That wasn’t the point.

  • AngelS March 29, 2018, 11:17 pm

    We now have the benefit of hindsight, as it’s been four years since the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral.

    According to the ALS Association, the Challenge was “…a tremendous event in our Association’s history, raising $115 million in the summer of 2014. Not only did it bring awareness to this devastating disease, it importantly spurred a huge increase in our research budget. Since the IBC, we have committed over $96 million to research projects.” (via als.org)

    I’d say that was a very successful campaign indeed.