Left cold by charity challenge

Left cold by charity challenge

Left cold by charity challenge

First published in Emma Clayton
Last updated

IT seems you’re nobody these days unless you’re having a bucket of ice cold water chucked over your head.

Social media is awash with footage of gurning celebrities, from Hollywood A-listers to reality TV desperados, braving the Ice Bucket Challenge; a chain letter-style fundraising campaign.

The idea is to be filmed having ice water thrown over you, before nominating someone else for the challenge. They must then accept it within 24 hours or opt to make a donation instead.

Celebs who’ve endured a soaking so far include David Beckham, Rita Ora, Gwyneth Paltrow, even Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary, alias actress Michelle Dockery. The challenge originated in America, to raise awareness of and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and it soon went viral. In the UK it has been undertaken in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and adopted by other charities, too. While on the surface it all very worthy, and has raised a load of money, I can’t help thinking that the Ice Bucket Challenge is more about ego than philanthropy.

It’s just another take on the nauseating trend of the celebrity selfie – “Look at me, everyone. I’m not just rich, famous and gorgeous, I give to charity, too.”

Famous people can’t just support charities quietly, can they? They swim across lakes and rivers, cycle across the country, climb mountains, row through crocodile-infested waters – and it’s all played out for cheering crowds and captured on camera by documentary crews. These endeavours are impressive, but the false modesty that accompanies them is sickening.

And it’s difficult to justify a bunch of C-listers unicycling up the Great Wall of China for Comic Relief, when the cost of their trip would probably fund a school in a Third World village. Social media is all about instant gratification; a quick fix and a ‘like’ then it’s on with the next online trend. Remember the bare-faced selfie? Just a few months ago celebrities were falling over themselves to pose without make-up, for Cancer Research, and you can bet that by Christmas there’ll be yet another fad in the name of another good cause.

When fundraising becomes this fickle, I question how much understanding or care there is of charities involved. Does a kooky pop princess getting splashed with icy water even know what motor neurone disease is?

And since, according to Water Aid, nearly 750 million people face a daily reality of life without safe, clean water, it seems a bit crass to waste so much water for the sake of what is, essentially, vanity.

Just make a donation and spare us the selfless selfie act.

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