I learned of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” several weeks ago. It’s the newest social media-fueled cultural phenomenon to hit America, and one gaining incredible steam as celebrities, athletes and even politicians are getting involved.
Wikipedia defines the challenge (it’s amazing what constitutes a Wikipedia entry these days, by the way) as such: “The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head or donating to the ALS Association in the United States. It went viral throughout social media in summer, 2014.”
Basically, if you’re challenged, you post a video (usually to Facebook) of you doing it, while also challenging others. In some renditions, you do the challenge in order to avoid donating money to the foundation, where as in others you donate $100, rather than $1,000 if you don’t complete the challenge within 24 hours.
While it’s true it’s gone viral — videos of challenges from Colin Kaepernick, Ricky Gervais, Bon Jovi and countless others are all the rage — I’m making it clear that if anyone challenges me, you can count me out.
Allow me to explain. It’s no doubt the challenge is working, as millions of dollars have reportedly been raised for the ALS Association, and that’s a wonderful thing.
At times, whether it’s due to apathy or just a general loss of interest, creative ideas are needed to remind people the importance of disease research. In these terms, think of the Ice Bucket Challenge as some sort of impromptu Relay for Life for ALS.
Personally, I’ve never known anyone afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — but any endeavor that is able to boost money donated to a worthy cause is to be applauded.
But I do take issue when that endeavor comes at the expense of our environment.
You’ve read the stories in our newspapers and plenty of others across the West, discussing the harmful environmental impacts of the current drought, which is shaping up to be one of the worst we’ve ever had.
Locally, our Tahoe-Truckee water agencies on the California side have mandated in recent weeks a reduction in use through measures such as specific days one can water lawns and requiring restaurants to not pour water for patrons unless requested.
Meanwhile, the situation is far worse as you travel west and south into the parched valleys. A quick drive past Folsom “Lake” tells you all you need to know about how bad the drought really is.
Considering that, to essentially waste water and ice by pouring it over your head is a bad example for anyone, from average Joes to celebrities, to set.
By all means, feel free to donate to the ALS Foundation, or any other foundation or organization about which you feel passionate.
But please, leave the water in the tap and the ice in the cooler while you do it.
— Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.