This week I was tagged in the following Facebook post:
“Thank you Kaori for nominating me for the #icebucketchallenge to raise awareness to ALS. I now nominate Austin, Reiley, Jon and Sarah. You now have 24 hours to complete this challenge or you must donate $100 to the ALS Association.”
Upon further investigation I found out that the ice bucket challenge requires participants to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves and post a video of it on Facebook, nominating others to do the same or donate to ALS research.
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which causes people to lose ability to initiate and control muscle movement and eventually causes death. I normally don’t participate in this type of social media activity (requiring me to post a ridiculous video of myself), however after suffering for years, last year my best friend’s father died of ALS, and she is the person who tagged me in the post. So, of course I wanted to participate, but don’t have $100 to donate!
The process of deciding to participate was unrelated to the difficulty of making the video, but rather, do I want to be soaking wet in freezing cold water and post a video of it on Facebook? Given that I of course want to continue raising awareness about ALS, and what better way to do it than continue this chain of videos, I decided to make the video and did so using my phone! This is the result:
The next day at work four friends asked me what ALS was, giving me the opportunity to share information about the disease. Furthermore, three of the 15 comments made on my video were related to having made donations to the ALS foundation. Lastly, two of the four people I nominated for the challenge also posted videos, continuing to spread awareness about ALS.
After reading more about the Ice Bucket Challenge, I found that my personal experience in appearing to have increased awareness in my community about ALS and raised donations was not unique. This social media campaign seems to have drastically increased public donations to the ALS foundation.
Throughout this entire process of seeing that I was tagged, reading about the Ice Bucket Challenge, recording and uploading my own video, and then reading the comments posted to it, I was using my cell phone. It is pretty incredible to think that in participating in this challenge, I was participating in raising awareness and building donations for a terrible disease. Even more amazing is that I did it all using my phone! This case is an example of the power of using current technology and social media as important tools in public health campaigning. Creating a public health awareness message can now be as easy for the layperson as sending an email, perusing social media pages or reading the news online. This means everyone can do it – we are all capable of participating in public health messaging using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Let’s take this opportunity to share what public health issues are important to us, and give the community easy ways to learn and participate in the process of supporting them.