The Ice Bucket Challenge has been doing the rounds lately, and most people are likely to have heard of it. For those who haven’t, it’s a challenge in which you either drench yourself in ice-cold water from a bucket and donate $10, or donate $100 (or an equivalent, whatever’s been decided for your country) to an ALS charity. This is really something Indian people do every day in the summer months (or, more often, something they’d like to do). The whole thing is really a stunt to raise awareness about ALS.
But has it succeeded? To find out, I polled 34 people in my class (all exposed to the Internet) on two questions:
1. Have you heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge?
2. Have you heard of ALS? If so, what is it?
The responses were:
1. Yes and yes – 10. Most people in this category had already taken the challenge, and one even told me how it relates to ALS (which is a disease characterised by partial or complete paralysis, lack of strength in one’s muscles, numbness, and eventually, death.) – apparently, after you douse yourself in cold water, you experience momentary numbness similar to that of an ALS patient.
2. Yes and no – The majority of people were here. 22 out of 34, in fact. Most people knew that it was a disease, but a lot of them didn’t know anything about it – it could very well be the Pneumonia Ice Bucket Challenge, a much more appropriate illness to support by inducing it in oneself. A few people thought it was a heart disease, and a few more a committee or organisation.
3. No and yes – none. Not surprising.
4. No and no – two here, not the sort of people to spend more time on the Internet or with people who are likely to take the challenge than they have to.
So, publicity stunt? Yes. Disease awareness? Not so much.