Calling time on the ice bucket challenge

I am sick of this ice bucket nonsense, I know I’m not the only one, and I can’t wait for it to die down. It’s like the mass hysteria following the death of Princess Diana, where half the country were caught up in it and the other half were left wondering if they were the last sane person left in the country.

I have even had to shut down all my social media accounts until the whole thing blows over. I know it’s all for charity, but despite all the money it’s raising there is something deeply disturbing about the whole thing. Many people seem to think that if something is for a good cause their methods should be above criticism. Others may be reluctant to voice their concerns publicly less they look like curmudgeonly party-poopers.

Well, bollocks to that.

The traditional means of doing stupid things for charity is to invite other people to sponsor you. Nobody should have a problem with that. But the ice bucket challenge doesn’t work like that.

It’s the coercive element to the whole thing that’s deeply troubling. Charity is supposed to be voluntary; it should be up to you to decide how much you can afford to give, and it should be up to you to decide which charities are most deserving of your support. Trying to force people to donate to a specific cause or face social sanction crosses a significant ethical line. The way supporters try to shout down any criticism makes it clear that this is an aspect they really don’t want to talk about. Unfortunately the “success” of the ice bucket challenge sets a dangerous precedent, and there’s a high probability that other charities will be tempted to take similar ethically-questionable approaches in the future.

Worse, the whole thing has nasty overtones of bullying, and I was getting the impression from my Twitter feed that quite a few people were being pressurised against their will. Performing acts of public humiliation for other people’s entertainment is fine for people with an exhibitionist streak, which explains its popularity with attention-seeking celebrities and cynical politicians. But for some of those who are more camera-shy the prospect of being “nominated” is genuinely frightening, and I know there are plenty of other people who have shut down their social media accounts for the duration.

If you’ve willingly made a public idiot of yourself by dousing yourself in ice-cold water, good for you. But if you’ve then pressurised anyone else into doing the same, refused to take an initial “No” for an answer, or threatened to nominate someone who know will hate it, then you are guilty of bullying. If this is really the case, it might not be a bad thing to ackowledge this and give a sincere apology to¬† your victim.

And if you read this and think it would be a “larf” to try and challenge me, you’re a dick. As Will Wheaton famously said, “Don’t be a dick”.

Comments are disabled on the post. I’m not really interested in a “debate” on the issue, and this post may well attract more trolls than I have the mental energy to deal with.

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