Let me start off by saying ALS is an awful disease. I am grateful to hear that donations over the past two weeks are at 1.35 million versus 22,000 over last year. That’s great news. I hope that some headway if forged in finding a cure for this fatal disease. I have known personally a few people who have gotten ALS it is a tragic diagnosis with no hope of recovery other than divine healing.
If you have Facebook or have been on the internet doing anything for the past week you will have seen everyone from Bill Gates to Martha Stewart pouring buckets of ice on their heads. They are doing this to be part of the ice bucket challenge where someone challenges you to give 100$ or pour a bucket of ice on your head. You video tape the ice being poured on your head and then challenge 3 friends to do the same.
I in no way question the motives of those who have done this. The question I often ask myself is this “Has the internet allowed pseudo-altruism to replace actually doing something to help someone else.” One of the temptations we must avoid in the internet age is make sure we are not equating “bringing awareness” with actually doing something. It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s going on that we draw and x on our hand, write love on our arms, change our avatar to the Arabic symbol for christian.
Simon Sinek explains this problem well.
The problem is, ask someone what good they’re doing and they will likely tell you they are helping “to raise awareness.” That’s the Gen Y catchall.
There is so much talk about awareness or “driving the conversation” that we’ve failed to notice that talk doesn’t solve problems; the investment of time and energy by real human beings does. Justifying such campaigns by saying they put pressure on others to do things only supports my argument that we seem less inclined to offer our own time and energy to do what needs to be done, insisting, rather, that others do it for us. It also reveals a limitation of the Internet. An amazing vehicle for spreading information, the Web is great for making people aware of the plight of others, but it is quite limited in its ability to alleviate that plight. The plight of others is not a technology problem; it’s a human one. And only humans can solve human problems.
Sinek, Simon (2014-01-07). Leaders Eat Last Deluxe: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (Kindle Locations 3444-3450). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Bringing awareness is good. Doing something is better. So don’t just dump ice water over your head give money to help fight ALS. Don’t just Write Love On Your Arms inform yourself on cutting and depression then give your time to help those who struggle with those issues. Don’t just change your avatar to the Arabic symbol for Christian actually pray for those who are being martyred for their faith.