Unless you lacked access to the internet, you’ve certainly seen the viral onslaught of Ice Bucket Challenge videos in the past few months. The idea was to dump a bucket of ice water over your head and “nominate” others to do the same, as a way of promoting awareness about ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease).
If you didn’t accept the challenge, you had to donate $100 to an ALS association of your choice. It’s like a game of Would-You-Rather involving the entire internet where, appallingly, most Americans would rather dump ice water on their head than donate to charity.
There were a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but most the annoying is that it was basically narcissism masked as altruism. By the time the summer heat cooled off and ice water no longer felt refreshing, people have completely forgotten about ALS.
It’s trendy to pretend that we care, but eventually, those trends fade away. This is the crux of millennial “hashtag activism,” where instead of actually doing something, you can just pretend like you’re doing something by posting things all over your Facebook.
Like the Ice Bucket Challenge, good causes end up being a collective of social media naval gazing. We reflected on our favorite social-movements-gone-viral and found out what happened to them after the fell off our Twitter feeds. Because, yes, social problems continue even after you stop hashtagging them.