Mother of pearl! I got tagged.
I admitted out loud that I have a bad attitude about doing it. So the dinnertime conversation last night went something like this, “Mom, what if the first person who was tagged didn’t do it? Or what if she just donated money but didn’t tag anyone else to do the donating, too? They would have raised like $300.00, not $100,000,000. Mom, think about it, even if it is a fluke one-time thing, more can be done with $100 million than with $2.7 million. What if you tag a person and the person you tag tags a person who then tags a person who tags a gazillionaire who can donate a gazillion dollars? Please pass the salt.” Also, the kids are threatening to dump a bucket of icy water on my head when I’m least expecting it while one of them videotapes the whole affair.
So I’ve been mulling it over.
According to the ALS.org website, “the challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.” As of August 30th $100 million has been raised since July 29th. That’s approximately $97.3 million more than the same period of time last year. That’s great! It really is great.
But I really don’t want to do it. I’m not exactly sure why either. I think mostly it’s pride: I don’t like being told what to do, and I really don’t like being guilted into doing things, and I really really don’t like seeing myself in videos. And there is a sense in which this isn’t my “baby,” so to speak. I watch as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, lung cancer, breast cancer, brain tumors, Ewing’s sarcoma, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and Cushing’s disease are reality in the lives of people I love.
There are also the “causes”: the education of girls, the mission field, the unborn babies, the environment, the sex trafficking, the mothers against drunk driving, and the fair trade coffee just to name a few. And then there is autism awareness, suicide and depression awareness, peanut allergy awareness, and bullying awareness.
All of that doesn’t mean that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) isn’t a terrible disease that deserves awareness and funding. But. I’m just keeping it real here and trying to figure out why I don’t want to do this thing.
Certainly, it’s not because I’m afraid of getting doused with ice cold water, because just a few weeks ago I jumped from a 30 foot rock into an ICE COLD mountain lake. Jumped all the way in. (Where the heck was this challenge in June?) I did that for fun.
Certainly, it’s not because I don’t care about raising money and curing disease.
Certainly, it’s not because those viral videos of people struggling with ALS don’t move me.
The guy at the next table had arranged his glass of beer next to his laptop on which he had some snazzy website (Penn State?) pulled up. He brushed a piece of lint off the screen and lifted his iPhone, squared it just right, and snapped a picture. He moved the beer ever so slightly, adjusted the screen tilt on the laptop, and snapped another picture. (Yeah, I’m a stalker.) It was a beautiful day to sit on the patio of an eclectic and ultra-cool downtown coffee house.
My friend returned from the restroom and we continued enjoying our lunch and our conversation.
I thought about that guy again later when I thought about the fact that I had just been tagged in the ever so
annoying popular ALS ice bucket challenge. It really was a unique glass. Kind of round without being frilly, and modern without being boring. Filled with amber liquid and just the right amount of foam, it looked delicious, and I don’t really love beer. The beads of condensation sliding down the glass were artistic and inviting. Would that guy have enjoyed his beer and the quiet peaceful afternoon as much had he not “shared” it with his social media world in a public display of solitude? (In the spirit of keeping it real, I have done that exact thing with a steaming cup of coffee and with a deep burgundy glass of wine. Same exact thing! So I’m not judging, just observing.)
That’s it. Public display of… altruism. Everything is so public. Look at ME! I’m donating! Look! Look! Look!
I feel a weird combination of wonder and annoyance: wonderment at the enormous number of people dumping water over their heads and at the amount of money raised, and annoyance that it took such a public display of altruism to get it done.
Is this a new trend? I don’t think so. Think about the telethons and the folks who’d call in so they could hear their names on television. Or the charity balls. Talk about a public display. And certainly, guilt isn’t a new tactic to get people to donate money. It’s really difficult to look a firefighter in the eye at a stoplight and say, ummm… no, I don’t want to drop a few coins in your boot, but thank you for being willing to rush through deadly flames to save me if the need arises; have a nice day.
I guess we’ve always capitalized on human nature.
I’ve admitted that I don’t want to do this thing and I’ve admitted that the stream of videos is a little wearisome, but I’ll also admit that reading the posts from the critics is even more bothersome. Most of the critics, ironically, use the same medium to convey their lofty ideas about narcissism (in order to draw attention to themselves and their philosophical genius).
I keep thinking about the six degrees of separation between me and the gazillionaire. Should I just add ALS to my list of causes, dump some ice water, donate some money, and just move on? If this was my cause, if my mom, husband, or friend suffered from ALS it would be a no-brainer, but then, I’d probably already be a supporter. So that’s what this is about. If it wasn’t for the annoying videos, I, who don’t personally know anyone with ALS, wouldn’t be sitting here mulling this over. Wait a minute… It worked.
This isn’t my “baby” but that doesn’t mean I should throw it out with the bathwater…errr… ice water. It might be your mom, husband, or friend, so yes, I will stick my stupid pride and annoyance in a bucket of ice water and add it to my list of causes in a public display of altruism. But seriously, I don’t have any more time to analyze my feelings about it because I’ve been challenged to come up with the ten books that have influenced me and shaped me into the person I am today. Where is that book about overanalyzing every bloody thing?
Have you dumped ice water over your head yet?
John Paul II Medical Research Institute: http://www.jp2mri.org
ALS Association: http://www.alsa.org (donors may stipulate that their funds not be invested in embryonic stem cell studies or any stem cell project.)