The OG of Social Media Activism
Imagine this, it’s 2014 and you log into Facebook or Instagram seeing that you’ve been tagged. You click on the video and your friend is sitting in a chair calling you out, challenging you to see if you are strong enough to have a bucket of ice cold water poured over your head in support of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Because you support the cause, and also because you don’t back down from a challenge you get your bucket of water ready, you sit in that chair, and you call out to ten other friends further spreading awareness of this detrimental disease.
When we think of social activism today we usually think about #MeToo, BLM, #LoveWins or any of the other cries for equality and accountability. But the first time I remember society coming together for a common cause was for the Ice Bucket Challenge.
This challenge was created by the ALS Association to help raise awareness of ALS. The ice bucket challenge involved dumping a bucket of ice water either over one’s own head or somebody else’s to promote awareness of, and encourage donations to, ALS research.The ALS Association was able to increase its annual funding for research around the world by 187 percent, which netted out to $115 million dollars in donations.
The ice bucket challenge was such a successful movement because of the challenge’s nomination aspect. When someone completed the challenge they would nominate other individuals to complete it as well. If the nominee did not complete the challenge within 24 hours, they were supposed to forfeit by sending in a charitable donation to the ALS Association. While today’s movements for change are less entertainment-centric the foundation of solidarity that the Ice Bucket Challenge evoked still lives on.