ICE TO MEET YOU

I’ve been nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And hey, guess what? I’m not going to do it. Why not? Because I don’t fancy it. Moreover, I’m not going to make a donation to charity either (or at least, no more than I otherwise would have). Why not? Because I don’t fancy it.

I have noticed that a lot of people don’t fancy it, and are trying to dodge the rules by pouring liquid water over their heads rather than ice. Hey motherfuckers! I can tell that’s water, even if you did film it with a fifteen-year-old Nokia in near pitch-darkness. This is the Ice Bucket Challenge, not the Water Bucket Challenge! How hard is it to empty one’s freezer and fill it with water? Within a few short months, a sizable block of ice could be formed, from which could be hewn chunks small enough to avoid lesions on the brain. And even if you didn’t, the next viral appeal will undoubtedly be on behalf of those suffering from cranial trauma after having a bucket of ice emptied over their heads.

Whatever the hell happened to performing some gruelling or humiliating task in order to procure charitable investment? I prefer that. But it seems that is falling out of favour now; now it is sufficient to perform a mildly inconveniencing task and then instruct someone else to do it and then give to charity. Is this the new fundraising model?

If it is, it’s a very effective one. I have never seen a ‘craze’ so absolutely embraced by my Facebook timeline. I have noted but a single vocal dissenter. I can’t get my head around the efficacy of this campaign, to be honest. Is it guilt? Is it vanity? Celebrity endorsement? Is it a desire to demonstrate how charitable you are? Is it part of some incomprehensible grieving process? Is it, you know, just a bit of fun?

Such is the marketing supremacy of the ALSIBC that rival charities are trying to get in on the act. It never really occurred to me that charities are in competition with one another. Well, it turns out that this is a cutthroat business. Macmillan, the cancer-support people, are trying to get in on the ALS donations with an Ice-Bucket Challenge of their own. They’ve even promoted it so if you google the phrase ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’, their page comes on top. What unforgivable parasites. Get your own fucking marketing department, cancer people!

Remember this the next time a charity-worker approaches you on the street. They’re going for the hard sell. They’re going for your wallet. They are fighting a battle in which there is little room for – errr – charity. If this really the way we should be deciding where we should donate to? I don’t think so! And neither does this person writing for Vox.

I never thought I’d have grounds to tell Macmillan cancer support to fuck off, but there you go. It’s hard to tell a charity to fuck off. It’s sometimes awkward to explain why you aren’t giving to charity. They’re relying on that shit. Don’t fall for it. Don’t get emotional over the whole thing. Don’t be afraid people might think you are being a dick about it. Don’t be afraid to be a dick about it.

This is emotional territory, I get it. It’s easy to say ‘please give to this charity’, but it’s certainly less so to say ‘this charity isn’t really worth your money’. But if it’s true to say that some charities really do deserve your money, then it follows that it’s true to say that some charities deserve your money more than others. And that really means that there are some charities that really don’t deserve your money – at least, relatively speaking. I can say pretty objectively that donating to cancer research is a morally superior action to, say, donating to polio research. Even if the people trying to get money for cancer research are unforgivable plagiarists.

This is one area where I get a little bit utilitarian on all of your asses. The equipment and expertise needed to treat neurological disorders are expensive and benefit only a small number of people. Mosquito nets and clean water, by comparison, are cheap, and affect an enormous number of people. Furthermore, people suffering from the latter would happily swap with those suffering from the former, but I can conceive of few circumstances where the reverse could be said.

I prefer to make the best use of available resources, and think in terms of misery prevented per pound spent. I can’t quite work out whether this makes me psychopathic. We aren’t, after all, a race of robots, soberly weighing statistics against one another before arriving at the least-grim course of action. At least not yet.

Our charitable inclinations (or lack thereof) stems from our sympathy with those suffering from the horrible disease, and I suppose knowing or loving someone who suffers from a horrible disease only heightens this sympathy. My granddad, for example, suffered from Parkinson’s disease; this makes me a great deal more inclined to give to charities that seek to aid Parkinson’s sufferers – in spite of the fact that contributing to water-aid or something would more greatly benefit human well-being. And this is not for the selfish reason that I might someday get Parkinson’s. Although that definitely enters my thinking.

Until next time, bucketheads.

 PS. If you’d like a comparison site for charities (those exist, apparently), have a butchers at this one.

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