A Dozen Good Reasons Why I Don’t Like the Ice Bucket Challenge

Of course, you’ve heard of the ice bucket challenge. Oh, you haven’t? Well then, surely one or more of the following describe you:

1.) you’ve been living under a rock
2.) you don’t participate in social media
3.) you don’t have any friends

… in which case, there’s a pretty good summary of it in this article out of Florida. If you don’t really want to read that, then I’ll just clue you in with this little synopsis: Someone accepts the “challenge” and makes a video of themselves being dunked in ice water (think of a coach getting doused by his team with the water cooler on the sidelines after winning a big game). During the video they “challenge” five other friends to accept the challenge by either 1.) donating $10 or $20 to the charity the challenge benefits, making a video of being doused in ice water themselves, and challenging five other friends, or 2.) declining to be bathed in ice water, but donating $100 to the charity. (Did you notice there’s no option 3.) declining to participate?)

I admit to “liking” all of my friends’ videos of their ice bucket challenges (good for them!), while inwardly cringing at the idea of it. I hadn’t really solidified my thoughts about why I didn’t care for it, and then a friend of mine posted this to his facebook feed:

“Somebody please do an awesome video making fun of this stupid trend that everybody is doing with “the ice bucket/water challenge!”

“Thank goodness!” I thought, but I only commented with something snarky, asking that somebody please make a quiz about people most likely to take quizzes. (Because they are equally stupid and, it turns out, they are designed to gather data about you. I’m not very private — duh, I write a blog — but I draw the line at some nameless marketing corporation secretly secreting my intimate data to use against me at a later date.)

Okay, back to my friend’s post. Almost immediately, several people responded in a like-minded way, including one gal who nearly took the words right outta my head,

“Thank God I’m not the only person who thinks this is ridiculous. Give out of kindness, not because someone has put you on the spot by calling you out.”

“Yes! Thank you!” I thought, while still keeping my thoughts to myself.

Then, the controversy: Someone got a bit defensive and slammed back with this,

“This stupid challenge has raised $77,000 dollars for a little girl battling cancer. I don’t care what reason people are doing it, the bottom line is it’s really helping a family in an unimaginable situation.”

Yep, and that’s great, and I’m sorry that little girl is battling cancer, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

Again, my friend’s friend read my mind and chimed back in with,

“And that is great, but people should donate because they want to. Not because they have been called out and don’t want to look like a jerk for not doing it. And now kids are calling people out, so you get multiples. It has just gotten a little out of control.”

I love that woman, and I’ve never even met her.

The world marched on, the sun set and rose again and was about to set once more when the unthinkable happened: I checked my facebook feed and found that I had been tagged — and challenged — in another friend’s ice bucket challenge video. Bless her ever-lovin’ heart.

Horrors. My worst nightmare. I may actually have to say what I think! Argghh!

I’m afraid to admit that I responded almost immediately by commenting that I didn’t realize she was an evil person. (Snarky, remember, I’m snarky, particularly when prodded.) I also said I would donate the hundred bucks to this 5-year-old battling cancer, but this would be the only challenge I would “accept” from anyone. Still, I didn’t fully explain myself. (Coward? Maybe.)

My poor friend thought I was super angry and might “unfriend” her. Okay, no, that would be an overreaction on a mega-scale. We’re still friends. Not just facebook friends: we see each other socially, I’ve helped her family move, I’ve watched her kids grow, I’ve attended her Pampered Chef parties, she’s thrown a couple of Tastefully Simple parties for me, she was one of the few friends I consulted during the dark-days of my marriage. Friends friends. Unconditionally. Just-because-I-don’t-agree-with-this-specific-thing-you’ve-done-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-continue-to-be-friends kind of friends. She has a good heart. Probably bigger than mine. Definitely bigger than mine by the way this post is headed.

In the “real world” living room of my mother-in-law’s home where I spend every Thursday evening, I exploded to Prince Charming and Mom about what had just happened and — finally — said out loud what I’ve been thinking all along.

It’s blackmail. Take this challenge or else all of your friends will think you have no heart. Peer pressure at its finest.

Look, I have a heart, and this girl’s story is tragic, and I’m sure her family is heartbroken, but I don’t respond well to peer pressure.

The dozen good reasons I don’t like the ice bucket challenge? They are the dozen (or more) friends and family that I PERSONALLY know who are struggling against cancer themselves, or have lost that fight and passed on, or who have lost a loved one. Every day — every.day. — someone else in our small world hears the unthinkable: they have colon cancer (again); their son has leukemia; their daughter has stage 4 malignant metastatic melanoma at the age of 18 (this one is so recent a website hasn’t been set up yet); their husband had a heart attack and must retire before his time; their mother or father has lung cancer and only a few months/weeks to live. (Miss you every day Dad.) How do you decide which of them gets your precious financial resources?

Here’s the thing, despite our financial difficulties, Prince Charming and I continue to donate regularly. I have an automatic payroll deduction that goes to United Way. In addition to that, each and every month someone in my circle of friends gets a little something toward their favorite charity. Often it’s a Relay for Life, or Susan G Komen for the Cure, or the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, or the Muscular Dystrophy Association, or the Giant Race, or someone’s pasta feed, or someone else’s charity auction, or Special Olympics… the list goes on and on.

And, that’s my point, how I choose to donate my hard-earned cash should be MY choice, not dictated by someone else’s challenge. I would never challenge someone to step up and do such a thing precisely because I do not know what challenges and struggles they are already facing in their own lives. We all put on a good face, right?

I give. We give. We just can’t give to every one who asks. So, I pray for them all. Blessings for a good outcome. Wishes for a peaceful passing. Hope that your grief is healed. I give love and prayers infinitely and freely. That is why I ‘like’ my friends’ videos. That is my way of wishing them the best, contributing to the law of attraction, and congratulating them for taking action. That is why I had absolutely no hesitation sharing Kapri’s website so that others may give if they so choose, knowing that I have chosen wisely and will continue to choose to follow my own heart.

Yes, I do have one.

JE Love