Clicking and Sharing: Good Intentions, Unsustainable Movement

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Clicking and Sharing: Good Intentions, Unsustainable Movement

Oleh : Khodijah

The Tahrir Square rally which started on January 25th 2011 would not have happened without social media, neither would have London riots in the same year. Ever since social media, generating a movement has been made easier, and internet gained its prominence Oakleys Outlet in making social change. By social change, we have seen people amassed in demonstrations, donated a considerably great amount of money, prompted local governments to do or refrain from doing certain policy, and at the very least put spotlight on issues previously untouched, undiscussed about. However, the real-life impact of some movements are modest, if we can say any. Some movements focused only in making the issue viral, while at the same time lack the commitment in making a sustainable action to build the change they desire. By taking a closer look at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which was recently reported to lead a breakthrough in ALS research, this article will point out how people could devise a more strategic movement in order to create bigger change.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an online trend that went viral during summer 2014. Basically, people dump a bucket of iced water over their heads to solicit donation for ALS research. Then they nominate people they know to undertake the same challenge. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The nerve cells that control the movement of your muscles deteriorate gradually, so your muscles undergo an athropy, in other words they waste away progressively, rendering a lateral paralysis in your body. There are several possible causes of ALS, including gene mutation, chemical imbalance, and disorganized immune response. At first, the challenge had nothing to do with ALS. It was not tied to any specific kind of charity, for participants would select a charity of their choice for donations. It was Chris Kennedy, a golfer in Sarasota, Florida, who invited people to participate and chose to donate for ALS, for he has a relative suffering from the disease. The campaign spread like wildfire, but only after it reached Pete Frates, who has a very large number of supporters and is very active in ALS community did it went viral.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is indeed immense and in some way impactful in real life. The indicator to measure the immensity of the campaign is the number of times the challenge is passed, which can throwback jerseys be seen in the number of videos uploaded over the internet. Based on BBC News in 2014, there has been approximately 2.4 million ice-bucket challenge related videos posted on facebook, and 28 million people have uploaded, commented, or like ice bucket related posts. On Instagram, there has been an excess of 2.7 million videos uploaded along with the hashtag #icebucketchallenge. Because the stunt is aimed to raise money and awareness on ALS, it is fair to say in 2014 the challenge stroke a big success. During 29 July-28 August, ALS Association, a national organization fighting the disease in several front based in United States of America (USA), received $98.2 million-as opposed to $2.7 million in the year before. By 2016, the donation terraced up to $220 million worldwide. People’s awareness on the disease did elevated. Some measurable proof are the increase in ALS Wikipedia page, for from 1 August to 27 August 2014, the view skyrocketed to 2,717,754, while the previous 12 month had only seen 1,662,842 visits. Rise in views and visit has also occurred to ALS Association website and also MND Association.

Breakthrough Resulting from ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Although the campaign received a handful of critics, the money collected was able to fund Cheap Ray Ban Sunglasses several number of research projects. One of them was Project MinE, an initiative funded by the ALS Association. On July 25th 2016 the project’s researchers announced that they have discovered a new gene associated with ALS, which they said could lead to a new treatment possibilities. The discovered gene, NEK1, said ALS Association’s spokesperson, helps scientists understand the trigger of the disease. The identification will help them formulate better treatments in the future.

While the breakthrough itself is admirable and has to be appreciated, it will be hasty to glorify such campaign as a root of scientific advancement. The gene identified in the ‘breakthrough’ only contributes to 3% of ALS cases. Though it’s still progress, the main characteristic of a science development is that it is incremental. Up until now, there has been no known ลีน cure for ALS, only a drug that is used to slow down the progression of the disease. The research has started from 1990’s and it still is ongoing until now. Yes, the campaign has raised more than a hundred millions of dollars for researches to create better treatments for ALS sufferers, however we should watch out for two things in order to avoid complacency over one headline-grabbing success: (1) how people can easily engage, and at the same time, disengage, from social media-initiated movements; and (2) how philanthrophy still cannot beat fully-committed institutional funding.

Making a difference seems easy in this digital era. We can support hundreds of causes, still tucked under our duvets or sprawling in our couches. Live demonstrations need people to get together to discuss the content of their aspiration, they actually need people’s commitment to send flyers or any forms of publications, knock on people’s doors to convince them to voice for the same causes, and embrace the risk of being dismissed in a violent manner by authorities. When you belong to a virtual community consisting of millions of people, your incentive to actively contribute in the cause is also reduced. A study conducted by Kristofferson, White, and Peloza points out that people who joined movements in public are less likely to do something for the cause as opposed to those cheap nfl jerseys who joined in private. This is supported by the study conducted by Lewis, discussing the Save Darfur movement. More than one million people joined the Save Darfur between 2007 and 2010. The campaign raised $100.000 to be used to eliminate what is named to be the first genocide in the 21st century. However, the number of people who actually donated for the call is Baratas Replicas Ray Ban surprisingly small, for 99.76% of the members in the group never donated money to the charity, and 72% never recruited friends, family, or colleagues to the cause. The miracle made in the Ice Bucket Challenge fad, which is the donation of more than $100 million in less than a month, of course can be said as a campaign that does not attract a massive slacktivism. However, as research for ALS needs a constant funding, it is up to the ALS Community or the ALS Association to keep the ALS awareness and charity alive. ALS’s plan to make August ALS awareness month is definitely a spearheading step towards consistent public funding for ALS research.

Criticizing Social Movement in the 21st Century

However, at some point, we have to step back and reflect, are the movements we support really making the changes we want? In the Ice Bucket Challenge context, we did not at all touch the subject of making the government do the job better. The fact that people should voluntarily raise fund means governments haven’t put in a hard enough effort to sponsor studies to find cures for many diseases. The success of this particular campaign can be undeniably traced back to various factors, which can be summarized as such: involvement of public figures and the distribution through a number of platforms. Simplified: principles of effective online marketing combined. People’s awareness on ALS was not built out of inherent concern, but how the people in the ALS community market this concern through fun challenges and all that we find in the Ice Bucket Challenge. There are so many causes that are experiencing underfunding, without many people aware about it. Then, it will take a lot of trial and error for people who are struggling for these said causes if they want to create a public-funding as massive as this Ice Bucket Challenge: they will try to make fun campaigns, they will try to make influential public figures participate in their campaigns, they will try everything to make the public think that their cause is worth donating/volunteering. The bad thing is, eventually, we don’t donate or volunteer to some activity because it really matters, we will voluntarily involve ourselves only if the proposer of the cause have access to media and have the capability to make interesting campaign and marketing.

One-time wonder really is inspiring, however, to make bigger change, we have to incorporate the change in the system. Realizing that there is so much that we can do as citizen, such as donating collective money to a worthy cause, is one thing; but making change through strategically allocating responsibilities to every actor’s respective role will make a sustainable system that will allow structural support of worthy causes we believe in. People can make petitions on how the government should allocate a certain amount or percentage of money for health-related research, for example. This could be hard for countries still developing, however, what this article suggests is an promoting incremental change in making the government work on their responsibility to tackle important issues.


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