By: Mary Fran Bontempo
At the risk of being run out of town on a rail, tarred and feathered, branded a cold-hearted heathen or otherwise maligned, I’m just going to say it: Can we PLEASE stop challenging each other to throw buckets of ice water on our heads?
Before the critics start foaming at the mouth, let me add that generating awareness and money for ALS, or any worthy cause, is a wonderful idea. In a world where we’re way too self-involved (Did you hear that Kim Kardashian is about to release a book featuring of all of her selfies that didn’t make it onto Instagram? Someone kill me, please.), anything that encourages stepping away from own viewfinder is to be applauded. Unless it involves someone telling me that I have to dump a bucket of ice water on my head.
I object to the idea on many levels, not the least of which is that it’s stupid. I’m not sure why it’s compelling to watch people get doused and scream on You Tube, but apparently it is, as evidenced by the zillions of videos currently circling the internet. Maybe it’s because in this world of carefully constructed branding and imaging (everyone has a brand these days–even you, and you probably don’t even know it), it’s virtually impossible to be anything but your screaming, panicked, primal self when ice water is raining down on your head.
It doesn’t hurt that scores of celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon, accepting “nominations” and then challenging others to do the same. Witness Justin Timberlake get soaked after nominating Jimmy Fallon and the Tonight Show cast. And okay, it’s kind of funny. Plus, it’s raised millions of dollars for ALS research.
But, at the risk of throwing my own bucket of ice water on the whole idea, has anyone stopped to think about the people on this planet for whom clean drinking water is unavailable? Here we are, in the name of doing something good, wasting endless amounts of perfectly good drinking water (I’m assuming no one is dumping sewer water on their heads) for the sake of a reaction on You Tube. (I think it’s worth noting that Matt Damon, co-founder of the organization water.org, hasn’t engaged in this nonsense. Well done, Matt.) Further, I think it’s only a matter of time before someone indulges in this insanity and has a heart attack or something.
Come on, people, there’s gotta be a better way. Something that doesn’t involve waste or stupidity. I don’t know, maybe people could film themselves picking up trash on the street or having a hopscotch tournament with neighborhood kids or something. Anything is better than this.
And though again, I’ll re-state that raising awareness for ALS is wonderful, there are also many other causes out there, water.org among them. A few that are dear to my heart include Matt Damon’s cause, as well as Feed the Children and Food for the Poor. (When you love to eat, you’re acutely aware of those who never have enough.)
Finally, as if you haven’t suspected by now, I was “nominated” for this challenge by an ex-friend. She was a friend before this and now she isn’t. You know who you are. As I told her, when someone nominates me for something, I expect a trophy, not a bucket of ice water. Needless to say, I ignored the whole thing–after making a contribution to one of my own favorite causes.
By all means, America, let’s keep giving. But please, can we find a drier, less chilly way to do it? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m thirsty. I think I’ll go and drink a glass of ice water–a novel idea, I know.