Models, singers, film stars and footballers have all fallen for it. Cara Delevingne, Taylor Swift, Matt Damon, Cristiano Ronaldo and even genius sorts like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have been putting their global popularity to positive use, by sanctioning the latest whimsy to storm across social media: the ice bucket challenge.
For those not in the know, said challenge, which first sprouted across cyberdome on July 29, involves having someone film you while you pour cold water (preferably containing ice cubes) over your head and promptly uploading the video to your social platform of choice, where you nominate others to do the same.
The aim of such idiocy, we’re told, is to raise awareness of ALS. AL-what, you ask? Well, precisely. Despite the trend having gone viral, with all and their auntie reaching for a bucket, most admit to still knowing nothing about the disease. Mission (un)accomplished, then, oh ye intelligentsia who masterminded such brilliance.
Adding to the confusion is the fact amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is known by different names, depending on which part of the planet you find yourself. In the US, it’s commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, while us Saffers identify it as motor neuron disease. Yes, the same debilitating, and ultimately fatal, condition from which Joost van der Westhuizen suffers.
But hey, what does it matter if you have no cooking clue why you’re doing it? Or even that, while you gleefully pour litres of perfectly drinkable H2O over yourself, 884 million people across the world don’t have access to clean water? If all the boys (gush) from One Direction are doing it, that’s reason enough for you to comply, like a good little lemming.
At the risk of being accused of playing devil’s advocate, admittedly, the ALS Association (and its various international affiliates) has reportedly raised 10 times as much moolah between the end of July and now as it did in the same period last year. Still, those of us not suffering from the same celebrity-brain freeze seemingly affecting most of the human populace can’t shake the reality underpinning the pseudo altruistic craze.
Namely, that it amounts to little more than narcissistic celebrity self-promotion disguised as philanthropy. Which could just as easily be mistaken for a wet T-shirt contest meets Hooters job application, given the number of stars who feel the need to undertake the challenge wearing skimpy clothing that would make even Hugh Hefner blush. Moreover, ultimately, the very issue it purports to promote is long forgotten – and remains – once a new fad finds favour with the Babbit crowd.
Anyone recall the No Make-Up Selfies that had us all enraptured only a matter of months ago?
It’s hashtag activism at its best. Or worst. And if you’re still inclined to disagree, ask yourself when you last saw #BringBackOurGirls emblazoned across the Twittersphere…
LARA DE MATOS