Why supporting the “Ice Bucket Challenge” doesn’t make me a corporate sheep

Like many others, I have recently become innundated with videos of the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge. Most are very similar, a lot are somewhat funny and quite a few are quite poignant. Yesterday I came across a video that was very different to all those I’d seen prior, but demonstrated one of the more critical responses of the Challenge itself.

In the video a young man performs his own, icey feat before reading from a prepared piece about the falisy and flimsiness of the Challenge as he sees it.ย  He declares that the money we might donate as a result of taking part would do little to support the search for cures. He ‘exposes’ the business structure of the ALS charity organisation, giving figures that apparently reflect a rather low percentage of funds going towards actual research and a much larger amount being spent on things like staff wages and CEO bonuses. He finishes with a call to action, encouraging others not to donate or nominate but to take to the streets in ‘revolution’ instead.


Ironically I watched this video just minutes after being nominated myself. For days I’d been watching the circle of challengers spiral closer and closer to me andย  had already entertained tiny daydreams of how I might take part, so was quite excited to finallybe called out by my brother-in-law. Then along comes this anti-Challenge-video, shared and liked by people I know and respect, telling me not to take part or donate or nominate or anything for fear of becoming one of the thousands and thousands already duped by these global coroporations into wasting our money on corporate bonuses and in effect not really giving a damn.

The anti-C-video seemed to be arguing that to take part an the easy way out, a ploy to divert our attention from the ‘Real Issues’. For the young man in the video and the people who share his cynicism, I imagine the ‘Real Issues’ are Commercialism, Capitalism or one of many other huge C words that I don’t really want to start a huge debate on here, now.

The simple fact is that his video – whilst somewhat sensationalist – did make me think. I was torn. Should I take part or not?

It might sound like quite a small thing to get in a quandry over, but I never like to show my support for anything unless I am sure I can respond to the questions and criticisms against it; particularly on the internet as it is already a place where so many nuances of speech and belief become lost in translation. Having seen both my nomination and this anti-C-video in quick succession I was forced to consider whether I actually did agree with the Challenge or whether I was simply being swept along with the social wave. For I am no huge fan of Commercialism or Capitalism and would hate to be considered a blind follower of fashion. That said I’m not quite a Revolutionary either (though that is another blog post entirely). I don’t like stagnation but I hold some respect for status quo. How then could I reconcile these two conflicting ideals and without ending up a very cold, very wet, corporate sheep?


The anti-C-video’s argument sounded solid enough to me. Though I couldn’t verify its ‘facts’, the logic of it was sound: why should we take part in something as paltry as this when Real Issues need our attention? Surely our energy would be better saved or spent fighting against those? And the popularity of the challenge, the way it has been splashed across headlines and gossip pages and social media, through celebrities and mundanes alike, gives it a feeling of all flash and no substance which is really not my thing.

Yet despite all this, in my heart I wanted to take part. No matter how strongly my logical mind tried to curry favour with my ethics for an all out boycott I simply couldn’t do it. Being a part of the Ice Bucket Challenge felt like the right thing to do.

I have learned over recent years to trust that inner heart voice; that urge that feels like uncertainty at first but when you see it for what it truly is you realise it is intuition. So once I realised this is what I was hearing I was able to accept my heart’s decision and begin planning my video.


Which freed my mind up to consider why taking part felt so right and why I knew I wasn’t selling out to the commercial masses by doing so. At the end of the day it all came down to the thing that is most important to me, in this life, in this World. The thing that I think will truly bring us all closer to peace and happiness (if not the cure for diseases) if we could simply have more of it: connection.


* The Ice Bucket Challenge has not only raised awareness and money for ASL and the many other charities that people have chosen to dedicate their participation to, it has created CONNECTION the World over. Through the ‘nominations’ we are forced to think outside our Self and to connect to and encourage kindness and generosity in those around us. Most of us will have been nominated by people we know quite well, but even a reminder of those relationships (close enough that they have relished the thought of dumping ice all over you!) will lift our heart and spirit and make us feel good about our place in the World. The Challenge is sending out a message to us all on a very individual level: You are not alone.

* It has given a number of people the chance to connect not just with those living but those past. Many videos have been dedicated (often with their donation) to a friend or family member who has been touched/killed by illness, not always Motor Neurone Disease. Through taking part the individuals are able to honour the memory of their loved one and to speak their name out to the wide World, making them present and real in that moment, if only in memory. Once again the Challenge is strengthening connnections, this time between the living and the dead, allowing us to say: You are not forgotten.

* The Challenge has sparked the IMAGINATION of an incredible number of people around the World, resulting in an outpouring of crazy, creative ideas and acts that in turn bring joy and humour to those who see them/hear about them. This joyful connection benifits all who recieve it and is, I think, one of the main reasons why the Challenge has been so successful. We want to offer our own take on it and then sit back and enjoy everyone elses. True, this may not cure disease, but taking joy and pleasure in knowing, being with and seeing our fellow humans can only be a good thing. The Challenge reminds us that: We are all together.

* In that same vein the Challenge is an opportunity to be UNIQUE whilst still taking part in a COLLECTIVE ACT. Each video displays the uniqueness of the individual whilst silmultaneously representing them taking their place in a much greater whole. Being a part of such a vast and determined group of many, one which still celebrates each individual’s uniqueness, is the ultimate way to establish and energise one’s connection to the World and all that is in it. It is the best reminder that no matter how distant or dispirited our goverments, our media or our capitalist-cultures make us feel we are more than that: we are Human, connected and we can be joyful and generous and honoured within that.


By taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge I am stepping out into the global community with my arms wide open and with love in my heart.

Which sounds less like a sheep and more like a Revolutionary to me ๐Ÿ™‚




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ilana
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 16:36:14

    Great blog. Well written, insightful, honest. I enjoyed reading it, thank you Keli:)


  2. southernmyst
    Aug 30, 2014 @ 23:33:58

    You didn’t link it, so I’m not sure what numbers your video guy was spouting off, but this just crossed my desk, so I thought it might also help you feel a bit better about the whole thing: http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/als.asp Most of what ALS gets, it spends on its stated aims – 72.4%. I know you were exploring larger points, but thought this was worth passing on to you.


    • kelitomlin
      Sep 01, 2014 @ 12:01:39

      Thanks for sharing that SaraJayne. I wasn’t able to find the anti-C-video a second time (thanks Facebook!) but am aware it was only on example of those and other criticisms that have been raised. It is nice to hear that there are figures being released to give people peace of mind; although I am sure the cynics would claim they were falsified ๐Ÿ˜‰ I appreciate hearing them though! ๐Ÿ™‚


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All written materials and images, unless otherwise stated, are property of Kelly Tomlin 2016.
We gather together to Walk the Wheel; to share with one another and be inspired.