It's a challenge to remain charitable

You don’t have to be half-naked to take the ice bucket challenge

You don’t have to be half-naked to take the ice bucket challenge

First published in Columns Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Columnist

Ice bucket stunt leaves Rebecca wondering why people feel the need to show off online

We seem to be a generation of people who believe you have to do something stupid in order to do something good.

Take this Ice Bucket Challenge: a silly gimmick by which individuals make themselves feel momentarily better about their existence by dumping a bucket of – yes, you guessed it – ice cold water all over themselves.

Why ice cold water was chosen is anybody’s guess but the stunt has raised more than $50m for an American organisation, at least.

From this side of the Atlantic, it crept up slowly. A few smatterings of celeb dumpings online, random American friends taking over our Facebook feed. And then as more people were nominated by our US friends, it made its way to our shores. It’s the Ebola virus of the campaign world: the chink in our armour is not our immune systems after all, but our egos. Spreading slowly over the past two weeks before really gaining power you will now have endured countless Facebook posts and – ridiculously – you will have been subjected to news coverage of various celebrities ensuring they remain accepted by polite society by partaking in this.

I can’t help but cringe every time someone I know posts a status of themselves, half-naked and dancing around under a rain of ice water, all – supposedly – for a good cause.

And some of these people are my best friends.

These are reasonable, good people who I should not feel any animosity towards. So why do I?

On the surface, one should rejoice that so many people are selflessly giving to charity. If it were selfless. Remember, these people are nominated to undertake this by their buddies so would feel guilty – and what’s infinitely worse – feel ostracised by their peer group for failing to stand up to such a dare. Secondly, they receive attention for their good deed. As their video LIKES ramp up, I can just imagine their smug faces, leaning over their Sunday roasts safe in the knowledge this is a job well done while all around us the world is silently falling apart. Well, you may ask, does it matter whether they’re receiving attention or not, their act still raises money for charity? Indeed. The leader of Oxford-based organisation, Giving What We Can has indicated that the phenomena may well encourage “moral licensing”’.

Which is a bit like alcohol licensing in that you should require a licence to promote anything that promises to make someone feel better about themselves in the short-term, with no acknowledgement of the long-term fallouts.

It has been proposed that some people might use taking part in the challenge as a substitute for other charitable acts and that by attracting donations for ALS, the challenge is “cannibalizing” potential donations that would have gone to other charities.

Absolutely. I’ve nothing against Motor Neurone Disease – although UK donatees should be mindful of whether they’re donating to the Brit-based charity or the US one.

I appreciate that people half-think they’re doing a great thing. In some ways they are.

But it also smacks of ego-maniacal self-congratulating: a wet T-shirt competition for the masses to promote their goodness and their half-naked bodies and finally, somewhere waaaay down the list they vaguely remember to promote a cause.

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Does your family have split football loyalties?

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Jaine Blackman looks at a survey which reveals many parents have completely unrealistic expectations that their child is destined to become a top soccer star

Plant strawbs now ready for Wimbledon!

Oxford Mail: Sheena Patterson

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Sheena Patterson on getting children interested in gardening

Take in some stunning scenes and help charity

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

As the Easter holidays begin, and the clocks go forward tomorrow, take advantage of the extra daylight to visit some stunning gardens, says Jaine Blackman

Just like being in a Potter film

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Tim Hughes follows in the footsteps of an impressive alumni at Wadham College

Patients come second in the profit pursuit

Oxford Mail: Katherine Rees

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Katherine Rees on the rise of the 24-hour society

A giant success for Miniaturist writer

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Since finishing her dazzling debut novel The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton has been caught up in a publicity whirlwind. Jaine Blackman reports

Catch some rays to boost your health

Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Lisa Cuerden on the power of vitamin D

Young people are still fairly out of pocket

Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

"You could blag a total of £6k from the government" writes Gill Oliver

Clarkson bust-up, Monty Python and the meaning of life

Oxford Mail: Rebecca Moore

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Sit in any central Oxford pub on a Saturday night and the stuff you overhear can quickly turn into a Monty Python parody...

The goodies and baddies of television

Oxford Mail: Friday Life feature
Liz Nicholls is pictured with a fake spider after overcoming her fear. 
Contact(s): Liz Nicholls 07711332705
Catchline: Arachnophobia feature
Length: Double page feature
PictureSales Ref: OX68194
Picture By: Leah McLaren

 (16190432)

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Liz Nicholls on Richard III, By Reason of Insanity and Mission Survive

Best bosses... but the days of the Alpha Bitch are over

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Professor reveals why companies benefit from leaders with typically female qualities of support and empathy

Author Sara has real story to tell

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

Alison Boulton meets Sara Banerji, who recently had her 10th book published and now runs a creative writing course to help aspiring novelists and poets

 

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree