The Ice Bucket Challenge has hit Jamaica. Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna undertook it yesterday and challenged some colleagues to follow her. If you are not aware, the way it works is that someone dumps a bucket of ice water over their head and then names a couple of people who must follow suit within 24 hours. If they do not, they must donate money to a charitable cause, preferably ALS. (Just curious- why would you dump a bucket of water over your head when you are sitting at your computer, a question fellow blogger Emma asked yesterday.)
The challenge, which has overtaken social media and the world and the celebrity sphere, is a brilliant marketing concept. There are critics, of course, who call it slacktivism, which seems particularly harsh to me. (Check out one of the most negative pieces here, from Vice Magazine.)
I have given my own opinion on the concept of slacktivism, arguing true activism requires some substance behind a person’s motives, and that they must not solely fall into following a trend. (Check out my piece here). However, in this case, I can’t see any downside.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $15 million US and it has most certainly educated more people about this horrible disease. How is any of that detrimental? I suppose you could argue that people are in fact taking the challenge NOT to raise money when they actually douse themselves with water (because by doing so, they forgo donating the “required” donation), however, it seems to be effective, measured both financially and in terms of the increased level awareness of the disease.
For Jamaica, however, I would add some caveats in terms of whether or not this craze should catch on here. The country is in a drought, for one. (The ALS site suggests you can “repurpose” the water if you are in an area with water challenges, but how would one do this if it is flung everywhere?) Even when it is not in a drought situation, water is a scarce resource in some communities. (I cringe when I think of what people in the rural communities, who must walk with large buckets to get water, would think if they saw this). It also takes precious power to create ice and generating power is expensive in this nation. So let’s tweak the challenge for Jamaica. Instead of dumping a bucket of ice over one’s head, why don’t we challenge one another to report any water leaks we see on the road. If they cannot do so, they can go ahead and donate $100 to the cause.