A look at a current news item through the lens of different titles available on GVRL.
By Michelle Eickmeyer
A quick poll of my friends yields the following: zero people thought about ALS during the month of June. Better than 90% of them have laughed at someone they know dousing themselves with cold water. Every single one of them knew what “the ice bucket challenge” was when I asked. And that’s something.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS [or MND in the UK]) is “a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” Though first discovered in 1869, ALS was thrust into the spotlight when Lou Gehrig was diagnosed in 1939. In laymen’s terms, ALS stops your muscles and nerves from “hearing” what your brain is telling them to do. In the end, respiratory failure is the most common cause of death. Most people lose their battle in less than 39 months from their diagnosis.
Between 29 July and 27 August, $94.3 Million has been donated to the ALSA to support research. During that same period in 2013, $2.7 Million was donated. This, my friends, is using the internet for good. (We will not be addressing how the internet can be used for evil. Not today, anyway.) (Read the press release here.) Though not without criticism, the ice bucket challenge has been taken by hundreds of thousands of people. There are currently over 653,000 videos on YouTube. Macy’s dumped ice water on Santa, for crying out loud! There are websites dedicated to keeping track of the celebrities who have played along. Sadly, several people have been hurt and at least one person was killed taking the challenge to extremes. Though the rules have not always been followed (dousing is meant to reduce your donation, not eliminate it), the ice bucket challenge is the undisputed winner in best social campaign to raise money.
Here are five titles that look at the ice bucket challenge from different perspectives:
“If all of your friends are jumping off a bridge, would you do it?” Ah, peer pressure. Pack mentality has been studied for ages, but what has the ever present ‘pressure’ of social media done to conformity? Explore the use of social media in current events including the Arab Spring and the concept of a being a good “social media citizen” with this title coming in December.
In the end, the money raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge is meant to fund research. The methods and means by which that research will take place remain to be seen, but the options are varied. But for ALS and many other acute diseases, research is a vital part of advancing treatment and, hopefully, finding a cure. This title details the research done for the treatment of ALS and other terminal nerve disorders.
ALS is classified as a Motor Neuron Disorder. (As mentioned above, ALS is generically referred to as MND commonly outside of the U.S.) There are a variety of MNDs, with varied symptoms and prognosis. For more information on this type of condition, lists of symptoms, groups affected and more, check out the Motor Neuron Disorder section of Magill’s.
Providing an approachable, readable overview of ALS, this title addresses the topic at a level suitable for all. Including information on genetic links, research and treatment, users have the unique opportunity to read personal narratives from several people suffering with the disease, including Dr. Stephen Hawking and a member of the controversial Prize4Life commercial.
Imagine you are the head of ALSA. You’ve just received $100,000,000 after someone started a campaign that was so successful the term “going viral” hardly covers its impact. What do you do first? Now, imagine you are the head of another charitable organization, funded largely by donations — how do you plan for your coming campaign and expenses? Will the IBC have a *negative* impact on the donations to other charities? Will it be possible to launch a campaign for another cause which can be close to as successful? Every day, thousands of people around the world work in the business of charity. Learn more about them here.
If you’d like to dump a bucket of water on your head, great. If you’d like to donate, even better. You can do that here.
Michelle is an “anytime!” traveler and language enthusiast. She has degrees in talking from Central Michigan and Michigan State University. She is currently becoming a runner and used to play golf in high school.
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