#icebucketchallenge shows power of social media

Andrea Neff and Michael Westerman

Can’t wait until your Facebook newsfeed is free of constant video spam? Well, neither can we. As entertaining as it is to watch your friends and family drench themselves from head to toe in gallons upon gallons of icy water, as with most Internet trends, it gets old fast.

However the rapidity of this trend is precisely what has reached national news headlines and celebrities of all genres, but this is no Harlem Shake. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken off as a fundraising dynamo. Between July 29 and Aug. 12 of this year, a span of 15 days, the ALS Challenge raised $4 million, across a board of 70,000 new donors. By Aug. 16: $10 million. The 20th: $30 million. The 24th: $70 million. The 27th: $94.3 million.

For those of you secluded from the virtual world, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge concept is simple. Using #icebucketchallenge a video is posted to any social media site (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) involving the “challenger” dumping a bucket of icy water on their head, and in turn challenges any number of people to do the same within 24 hours or otherwise donate $100 to the foundation.

The sensation, or lack thereof, felt from the icy water is intended to mimic the crippling effects of ALS. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Effects include the loss of active muscle control in the arms, legs, and face. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, 5,600 new cases of ALS are diagnosed each year. Subsequently, only 20 percent of those diagnosed live for more than five years.

Despite the fact that these videos have only surfaced on your newsfeed as of this summer, the ALS Challenge was actually started in 2011 by a Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates. Frates was diagnosed in that year and on July 31, did the challenge nominating his friends and NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan to do the same. Frates idea to challenge celebs has turned into a frenzy of call outs by the A-list from the Foo Fighters mocking a scene from Stephen King’s “Carrie” to challenge either him or Charlie Sheen dumping $10,000 on his head and asking his nominees to do the same.

In the last two weeks, big names such as  Leonardo Di-Caprio, Matt Damon, Mark Zuckerberg, Hugh Jackman, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, and many more have jumped on the ALS bandwagon.

The incredible outpour of celebrity support has certainly stimulated the organization’s recent success, which can be accredited to the undeniable power of social media. It’s a love/hate relationship with sites like Facebook most of the time: easily distracting you from homework, providing you with too much information on that kid you went to high school with, preventing a commendable summer tan.

At least for today we’d like to pat our participating readers on the back for loving their Internet connections, because something truly commendable has come of new-age technology. We ask for continued support of not just the technological advances of the present, but those of the future as well. As far as we can tell, some of the greatest discoveries have been made by accident: the existence of gravity, the structure of DNA, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Therefore, if we could see similar support of all foundations dabbling in the sciences, we may just stumble upon the cure for all diseases: certainly something worth posting about.