Giving to charity has suddenly become very self-indulgent. As I scan my newsfeed and I see many friends soaking themselves in icy water in order to spread awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis I wonder why it is we have to do attention-grabbing acts in order to want help a fellow human being.
I would firstly like to congratulate the ALS ice bucket campaign as the amount raised from the challenge so far is nearing eighty million dollars (at the time of writing this article).
The campaign has also brought about much-needed attention to a disease that had previously not been so actively shown across social media. This is no doubt a more than substantial amount of money raised and it cannot be argued that it will benefit the cause and benefit a lot of people.
My issue is not with the wanting to raise awareness and donations; my issue is how easily people are attracted to campaigns that require them to turn the attention on themselves.
It’s not the first charity campaign to put the focus on the person donating, as we have seen many a moustache paraded for Movember and many a No Makeup Selfie taken for Cancer Research but why do these campaigns have so much appeal?
I myself participated in the No Makeup Selfie campaign and I would say that I buckled under the peer pressure of seeing everyone else participate. I also partly enjoyed seeing selfies that were seemingly more ‘meaningful’ but I question why we need to photograph, film ourselves or perform visual stunts in order to give to charity?
‘IT’S JUST FOR FUN!’ I hear the masses shout and by making the donation a comical or visual event then it’s shared and thus the message is spread.
But it’s not fun is it?
It’s really just another photo or video of yourself, the donation is just a small caption or image alongside YOU doing YOUR thing.
I support anyone doing the challenge, as I would support anyone donating to charity, but I would much prefer it if the drive to donate to charity didn’t involve some sort of implication to perform for the masses on social media. In The Daily Telegraph William Foxton described the challenge as ‘a middle-class wet-T-shirt contest for armchair clicktivists’ and I would partly agree.
I’m sure many people buy the Big Issue daily and yet do not take a photo of them posing with the seller; the many people who buy from charity shops probably do not pose with their shopping outside said shop and the person who gives up their seat to someone on public transport probably doesn’t film their seat swap.
Why am I being so silly with these examples?
I am being silly, as I want to convey that there are many personal charitable acts that happen daily that does not include the approval of our greater circle of friends and yet they still help people.
There will always be some feeling that a good deed has been done whenever you help another in whatever form it may be but there seems to be a habit developing that this good deed needs to be shared and needs to be part of a bigger community of approval.
Although anyone participating in charitable challenges will have their primary reason revolving around wanting to help and donate to the cause, I wonder if they would just as eagerly donate if they were walking past a fundraiser with a bucket for the same cause.
There was this video I watched recently that really touched me in regards to the disease and the people affected by it. It made more of an impact than any of the ice bucket challenges did and I think there is something special when the communication from sufferer to donator has not got a third party element. And it is for this particular reason that videos on Children in Need make a mess out of me.
Anyways, here is the video and I hope that for anyone who has done, will be or is considering an ice bucket challenge anytime soon will have a watch of some of the sufferers experiences and understand as much as entertaining the social media platform.
P.s For anyone participating in the ice bucket challenge, please stay safe!
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out ‘Ladies, Did You Get Naked? #nomakeupselfie‘?