Anyone who is at least minimally connected to social media these days knows someone who has been peer-pressured into doing the ice bucket challenge, which by now has jumped the shark like Fonzie on Happy Days. Think about it, the original act of dumping at least a five-gallon bucket of ice cold water has morphed into pouring a cold glass of water over your head that may only barely get your hair slightly wet. And for what?! To tell all your social media friends that you would rather do this silly ritual than to actually give money to a much deserving charitable organization. The whole idea is contradictory in itself; you’re challenged to go ice yourself in less than 24-hours or face the consequences of making a donation. So if you do it and challenge your friends, and eventually hundreds in your social circles are doing it, you have managed to dissuade people from giving money and really only called attention to yourself. Instead of raising money or awareness for a cause, the ice bucket challenge has become the event itself and the cause it’s supposed to promote is forgotten.
Perhaps a bit of biblical direction is needed. First of all, let us not forget that millions of people around the world are in need of water, which many of us in countries with social media overload take for granted. The water we have around us is a precious resource and we should always seek to preserve it. A recent plumbing problem where much water was spilled needlessly at my home reminded me of what Jesus said: “…your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45). Water is provided to all of us by God, and we should use it wisely. Why not raise awareness instead by giving water instead of wasting it?
Moreover, Jesus advised us to give alms secretly:
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with [twitter], as the hypocrites…, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
In other words, don’t announce it in social media, and especially if in the end you did not contribute to the cause you were supposedly promoting. So please, if you really need it cause it’s a hot day where you live, by all means take your iced cold shower in private. But if you are merely doing it for increasing your followers or grabbing attention for yourself, consider instead clicking the donation button of a worthy cause and be as generous as possible even if no one takes notice.