The MacMillan Cancer version has been cleverer still, asking people to donate £3 for the ‘privalege’ of getting a soaking from a freezing cold bucket of iced water.
In my opinion there’s something deeply cruel in a setup where one person is nominated by another to do something they would probably rather not do. It’s brilliant for the charities since, potentially, they can earn millions for their cause before people run out of other people to nominate (although it’s more likely that the viral novelty will wear off first).
But those who are nominated can leave themselves open to ridicule and guilt if they don’t comply; and those who aren’t can end up feeling unpopular and unimportant.
So why are people putting themselves through this? Is it because they’re gagging to give their money away to a particular charity? Unlikely – they could do that without getting soaked. I suspect most people are doing it for at least one of the following reasons:
1) They’ve seen videos of ‘celebrities’ doing it and want to feel like they’re one of them
2) They want to see people they know look stupid or feel uncomfortable
3) They don’t want to be accused of being a ‘tight arse’ or a ‘boring killjoy’ for not doing it
Let me be clear on this – if anyone refuses to take part it doesn’t make them a tight arse, or a boring killjoy, or unfeeling, or any other cited reason to try and lay a guilt trip onto them. If anything it makes them rational human beings in control of their own destinies, who will not be swayed by the masses into doing something that makes them look stupid or feel uncomfortable.
Some people might argue that anything that helps raise money for a good cause is justified, but I disagree; being coerced to give (however gently) is, in my opinion, just wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe wholeheartedly in charitable giving and I love to support people I know and local kids when they ask for sponsorship. But, as a rule, I prefer to give to causes of my choosing because I have a heart for them and, when I do give, I prefer to do it anonymously. And sometimes I prefer to give of my time, rather than my money.
For all those who have already participated in the ice bucket challenge, well done, I genuinely applaud you and your generosity in giving to the charity associated with your particular soaking. I respect your decision to take part – and trust you will respect my decision and reasoning not to.
For anyone who is yet to participate, please don’t bother nominating me. I’ll only disappoint you – and leave you cold.