Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This thing called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I guess by now everyone should have heard of the ALS ice bucket challenge, even seen a couple of videos where celebrities or even friends dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, in the name of raising money for the ALS foundation. It's surprising how quickly this fad spread, with I guess almost everyone with an internet connection have either tried it by now (unless of course, you belong to the camp that hates  this initiative, or one of the forever alone people like me).


mark zuckerberg was the first ALS challenger that appeared in my news feed


And unsurprisingly, following the rise of the ALS ice bucket challenge, tons have been written to evaluate this whole phenomena. You have people from all over the spectrum giving their opinion on the effectiveness of this campaign. There are those who claims that this event is nothing but a gimmick by celebrities to outdo each other and to gain publicity (hence all the different styles they used), you have those who say that the whole challenge is doing more good than nothing at all (so what if people get more publicity as long as ALS gets money) and you have those who said that this whole attention that is given to the ALS is diverting what normally goes to the more deserving causes. I mean who is paying attention to the genocide that is going in Iraq or other more serious issue while we are all busy dumping water on our head?


lady gaga doing it in her gaga way


But no matter what you think about the ALS ice bucket challenge, whether you hate it or love it, there's no denying the attention that it has got. Our world has never been ever united since the Harlem Shake or the Gangnam Style fad. Yep, I just lumped the ALS ice bucket challenge together with the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style craze.

You see, I think that despite what almost everyone is saying about the ice bucket challenge, it goes way deeper than just wanting to do something for charity. Sure I mean being able to donate money for a good cause is a plus, but I think the reason why everyone is doing it now is because of one simple reason, that we want to belong. We want to be part of something greater.


another stylish entry


Throughout the history of our existence, humans have always loved the idea of being part of something greater. It gives us a sense of purpose I think, and it makes us feel more accepted. That instead of a tiny bitsy dot, we see ourselves as a collective entity striving for a common purpose. This want to be part of something bigger, to take part in something that goes beyond our daily lives and routine, is what drives us to churches, communities and even football clubs. In a way, we are taking a larger identity than ourselves, and that is somewhat empowering I guess, which might explain the ease at how the whole challenge was adopted

I mean the same could be said when the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style craze took off. We ourselves wanted to be part of that bigger picture, to share the collective imagination at that moment in time. It's hard for me to put it into eloquent words because I'm never good with them and I'm half sleepy now, but you can say that each of us wanted to escape into this sort of movement that takes hold of our imagination every now and then.


bill gates decided to build his own machine


And from how I see it, with the power of the internet to spread an idea across, phenomena like the ALS, Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style would only keep repeating themselves. You'll never know when the next random thing will capture the imagination of the entire human race

Say what you want about the effectiveness about the ice bucket challenge, but I'm seeing something that is way more than that. I'm seeing an event that unites us as one in doing something similar, and I'm seeing one of the rare moments where we as a species collectively participate in some sort of ritual together. It's some form of escapism, I guess, where we put down the mundaneness of our everyday lives and share a common experience together. It's a way for ourselves to assert our own identity, and as well to assert our identity as a whole.


being part of something bigger


It's somewhat complicated, I know, but I don't have a masters degree in sociology but I just felt that the whole phenomena is more than just throwing water over your head for charity. Not when you post your video online for almost everyone to watch. It's one of the moments where we sort of take a break from life and participate in something bigger. An "escapevent" I think. Like the harlem shake. Like the gangnam style. And other events that I may have forgotten. It's not about the charity, it's about taking part in a collective experience, or following the trend, as you may say.

An escapevent. I think that word sounds nice, don't you think?


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