Why I Didn’t Want to Take the Ice Bucket Challenge

 

So…I finally got tagged in the Ice Bucket Challenge. It took awhile (in social media time), but it was inevitable. I had started to have this weird uneasy feeling as more and more videos filled up my news feed. Cynicism? Skepticism? Balking because it’s yet another trend that people will join in on, and then it will slowly die out? I don’t know, maybe all of those.

We’ve all seen campaigns go viral in the past (#Kony2012 or #bringbackourgirls, anyone?), and the results were a mixed bag. The intentions were positive, for sure, but sometimes these viral social media campaigns have done harm. People have joined in because they we thought we were “raising awareness.” Oh, this complicated world of social media. It seems we can raise awareness at the speed of light…but then, are we actually doing anything?

As all of this was going viral, I was finishing up a fantastic book called Overrated: Are We More In Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World? by Eugene Cho (you can find my full review here). The author challenges us to go deeper–to live more generously, sacrificially, and justly. His chapter on becoming an expert and not just have social media knowledge was especially challenging and insightful for me.

“We live in a social-media world, and you know what that means: Social media–minded people think in status updates and hashtags.
They think in tweets. #Cho-tastic
They compress ideas into 140 characters or less. #EducateYourself
They like videos, but short ones. In fact, six-second videos are long enough. Fifteen-second videos might be a stretch. Hashtags, anyone? If we are not careful, these snapshots of information and entertainment can trick us into believing we actually know something, or worse, that we’re actually doing something.
…Listen, if something matters to you, then go deep. Take the time, and make a commitment to be an expert in the areas of your passion. Don’t just say that you saw it on Wikipedia or heard it on NPR or read someone’s Facebook status.
You can’t know everything about everything, but when you say that you care about something in particular, and feel called about it, this is where I say you have to dig deep, be deep. Take time to understand the issues, facts, complexities, and nuances. Without knowing even the basic background of what you care about, you can hurt the people you are trying to help.” (excerpts from Chapter 7: “Having More Depth than 140 Characters: Be an Expert”)

 

 

So I was in the middle of being challenged about the collective lack of depth on social media while all of this was going viral. How’s that for a little cognitive dissonance? In other words, my brain was exploding.

But one thing I’ve realized in the last couple of years is that I can’t be passionate about everything and I won’t be very effective at anything if I try to be. But, I can do small things in issues that are important. It’s been so helpful for me to recognize that distinction:

  • There are things I’m passionate about, and I want to be an expert in those areas. I want to dig deep, to learn more, to be committed, and to dedicate myself to them.
  • And there are many, many other things that are important and that tug at my heart. If an opportunity comes up to give or be involved in a small way, I can do that. I don’t have to be overwhelmed.

“I learned the painful way that the reality is you can’t do everything. We can be informed and educated about many things, but we can only go deep in a few things.” (Overrated, p. 127)

It’s true that I will probably not be dedicating myself wholeheartedly to learning about ALS and helping those who have it. But, this is important, and though there are constantly things vying for my attention, time, and resources, the Ice Bucket Challenge was one small way I could get involved. I have watched a couple of videos and read a couple of articles, and I want to share my support for people who are faced with this painful disease.

So I encourage you, if you take the Ice Bucket Challenge (or if you already have), consider whether helping people with ALS is something you’re passionate about. If it is, dig deep. Live generously. Become an expert and live it out.

If the Ice Bucket Challenge was a small way for you to get involved in something that mattered, to give to something that moved you, recognize it as that. Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by All The Things that come at us everyday, but be informed, give in small ways to important issues, and dig deep in your area of passion. Maybe in addition doing the Ice Bucket (and donating a few dollars or a lot of dollars 😉 ), you can take 30 minutes to read a couple of articles or watch a video about what it is like to live with ALS. Here are a few that I found helpful:

So, though my brain almost exploded, I decided to join in. This is my very small way of showing support to the ALS community, of sharing their message, and helping to raise funds.

Can you relate to feeling pulled in a million directions? What are you passionate about? Are there ways you want to go deeper, learn more, or become more involved in your area of passion?

I shared this post on Jack of All Trades Linkup.

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  • Yes, exactly!! Just…yes!! 🙂

  • mel mariner

    There are things that social awareness would make a difference but it’s not fun and it makes people emotionally uncomfortable so they ignore it. Go to the Barnes and Noble website and in the search box type daddy and see what comes down in the drop down search selection. You don’t even have to type the whole word to see what they are selling under the guise of freedom of speech. Any child can type in that word and see that list, not to mention click on the choices. Can you imagine if every person that did the ice bucket challenge took a picture of themselves holding a sign saying “Barnes and Noble daddy erotica is not freedom of speech. It’s a war on children!”? Would it have an impact on the porn that Barnes and Noble sells? Would it be something that the news organizations could ignore as a subject?
    Do you know what happens if you post the information on the B&N Facebook? Other women will tell you that in this country we have freedom of speech and people should supervise their children’s exposure to the internet like they do. The fact that product is influenced by culture no longer matters. The fact that other people’s children should matter too doesn’t play into their values. No one cares. People don’t even respond when told about it. They don’t want to know.

  • Ha, thanks Jess! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mel. It sounds like this is something you’re really passionate about! I am also frustrated by the way the sex industry is viewed in our culture, and how easily so much can be viewed by kids on their smartphones, computers, bookstores, everywhere. I don’t have kids myself, but I have worked with teenagers for many years, and it’s heartbreaking to see how so many of them become addicted to porn at such a young age. Are there any ways that you have been able to get involved or raise awareness that have worked well?

    Just a thought regarding raising awareness…I agree, it’s a touchy and embarrassing subject for many, but it’s really important. I have seen some success and positive things come out of conversations, so I just want to encourage you with that. Earlier this year, a couple of women and I planned out an 8-week justice series at our church, and pornography was one of the topics (in a separate week from sex trafficking, because we wanted people to understand the link between them). Those two weeks seemed to really bring a lot of awareness. We had personal stories from women who were victims of the sex industry, and our pastor did a great job with both being sensitive to people’s addictions and shame, and challenging the ideas people have about porn.
    Anyway, I’ll share the links to the resources we compiled (some of them are specific to our church but many are not), if it’s something you’re interested in checking out:

    General facts–http://www.newhanoverumc.org/pornography

    5 Things in 5 Minutes–http://www.newhanoverumc.org/porn_5_things

    Get Involved–http://www.newhanoverumc.org/porn_get_involved

    Learn More–http://www.newhanoverumc.org/porn_learn_more

    Thanks again for stopping in and sharing your thoughts! Blessings.

  • mel mariner

    This was one of the successes. So it is possible to affect change through social media. Though there were many women that argued that if you give pedophiles a child doll then maybe they won’t touch real children. Absolutely no understanding of how pathology works and you couldn’t convince them. Though this success may have been because it was a Chinese site and didn’t touch people’s love for their Nooks. I tend to be cynical but you have to wonder.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/20/chinese-retailer-offering-sex-dolls-resembling-pre-teen-girls-removed-from-e-commerce-site-following-outcry/

  • Michelle Sparks-Nugent

    This is my sentiment as well in regards to the Ice Bucket Challenge. In addition, I feel many Christians are not doing their research as to what exactly they are supporting by taking this challenge. ALS is a horrible disease, and it is tragic for those that have it. But the ALS foundation is researching therapies and genetic testing to cure this disease. I get that passion. But at closer examination, part of that research is embryonic stem cell from aborted children. Should a Christian support that? We need to be mindful as to what it is that we are supporting and do research before taking the “plunge” so to speak.

  • Michelle, Thank you so much for sharing! Really good points.

    “We need to be mindful as to what it is that we are supporting and do research.” Such a good point and it’s something I’m aware of in other areas (cross-cultural missions and international development) but think it’s something I overlooked here. (Confession) I haven’t made our donation yet (it’s happening this week!)…do you have any resources or organizations you might suggest? I did see this link that someone shared in a comment. http://erlc.com/article/the-faqs-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge

    Blessings.

  • Sarah Marchant

    I agree that I’m so tired of viral campaigns raising awareness and not much else. However, when I learned just how much money the ice bucket challenge has raised already, I got over a little of my skepticism. Finally, a campaign that’s accomplishing something!

  • Love this post, Naomi! I appreciate your distinction about digging deeply into a few things we care about and then helping in small ways with others. Not being overwhelmed. That’s a powerful message!

  • I was challenged awhile ago too. I’ve definately passe the 24 hour mark, but it’s because I wanted to read up a bit and figure out the best way to participate and show my support without letting it become another social media trend. I’ll be taking the plunge on Thursday, I think.

  • Sarah–yes, so true! It has raised an incredible amount of money in addition to awareness of what the disease is like.

  • Thanks so much, Sarah! That has been one of the most helpful things for me to learn and internalize over the last year or two because it’s SO easy to get overwhelmed. I’m glad you found it powerful! 🙂

  • Kelly–that’s awesome and so good to know what it is you’re supporting. I definitely agree with you there and hope you have found some good resources. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  • a) I need to read that book
    and
    b) I TOTALLY hear you on needing to support the causes you care about. If I supported every caused I was asked to I would only be able to give a small amount of time/money but knowing which causes I am passionate about helps give more time/money to causes that matter to me.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for stopping by, Chantel! And yes–I definitely recommend Overrated. I shared a more in-depth review of it this week as well…SO much to chew on.
    http://naomiliz.com/book-review-overrated-by-eugene-cho/

    Glad you can relate! It’s amazing how much more we’re exposed to now than people were just a few decades ago, and I think it’s really important to find some focus. It’s not that we have to ignore all those other things, but like you said, it’s about being able to give more of ourselves to what we’re passionate about. 🙂

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