Ice Ice Baby

I got my idea for an example of digital rhetoric from Brie’s post about non-profit organizations, so I guess forgetting about our assignment until now had its advantages. I don’t know how many of you know what the Ice Bucket Challenge is, but for those of you who don’t…

The Ice Bucket Challenge promotes awareness of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and financial support for its research. A¬†participant in the challenge gets a bucket of ice water dumped on his head and then nominates others to have the same done to them. If you do not complete the challenge within 24 hours of being nominated, you have to donate to fight ALS. Donating is obviously encouraged even if you do complete the challenge. If you’re like me, your brother nominated you to complete the challenge because (1) his fraternity’s philanthropy is ALS and (2) he can’t resist the opportunity to dump 5 gallons of ice cold water on your head. So on August 12, I completed the challenge:

My Ice Bucket Challenge

After I completed the challenge, I remember reading this article.¬†Between July 29 and August 12 of 2014, over $4 million had been donated to the ALS Association, which is four times the amount donated in that same period in 2013. According to the ALS Association’s website, they have now received over $115 million since July 29. Why is the Ice Bucket Challenge so immensely successful?

Easy. Because of its digital nature. It exists almost entirely through Facebook. People video themselves completing the challenge so they can post the video on Facebook and tag their nominees, then their nominees post their videos on Facebook and tag their own nominees and so on and so on.

Screenshot of my Ice Bucket Challenge Facebook post

The challenge basically went viral. A promotion of this sort is only possible through a medium like social media and so is a great example of digital rhetoric.


2 thoughts to “Ice Ice Baby”

  1. I like your example! The Ice Bucket Challenge is such good proof of how digital rhetoric promotes awareness for a cause. I think it’s been so successful because it engages people — something sadistic about humanity makes it so that we love watching people get ice water dumped on them, and we also love being able to force our friends and family to do it. These videos make participants feel obligated to adhere to the challenge for some reason — to dump the water on them or to donate money, or both. And, as you mentioned, it’s so easily share-able and something people WANT to share, so it becomes a successful movement.

  2. I completely agree with you! I think a big part of what made the Ice Bucket so wildly popular was its digital nature. Without being digital, there’s no way the challenge would have been able to spread so quickly throughout the world. It’s a great example of the positive aspects of the digital world. In this case, it was able to significantly raise awareness for an important disease. And – it was really fun seeing all my friends dump freezing cold water onto their heads.

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