Last month, the ALS Foudation launched the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness about the neurodegenerative disease ALS. When it began, no one could have imagined that a little social media idea would have such a huge impact.
However, it got individuals involved from 150 countries, and even drew in big celebrities and the world's richest people, like Bill Gates. I'm not sure the people who started it envisioned that.
It also likely never entered their minds that they would create their very own meme - one that has heightened awareness and raised more than $100,000,000.00 in donations.
And it's not just the warm reception of people participating. The ice bucket videos have racked up an astonishing number of views.
"Viral" is an understatement
For a challenge that requires dumping an ice water bucket over one's head -or making a donation instead - and then challenging three friends to do the same, it is hard to grasp how fast the idea - and the videos - spread.
There have been extremely popular memes - videos, pictures, comments that are shared liberally over social media- in the past like the Harlem Shake, that have really caught fire. But it seems the charitable aspect driving this meme is the true difference - one which has brought all videos related to the Ice Bucket Challenge combined to more than 1 billion views.
One. Billion. Views.
If you consider that there are roughly 7 billion people on Earth, to think that the equivalent of one in seven of us have watched an ALS Ice Bucket Video posted to YouTube is mind boggling. What's more, because the challenge is tied to a terrible disease that requires a significant increase in awareness and resources to combat - it seems the power of social media and the collective conscious of mankind arrived right on time to deliver some much needed hope (and resources).
There will always be those who say, "Alright, enough with the ice-water head-dumping videos." Those suffering with ALS, those who care for loved ones with ALS, and the doctors and scientists who work tirelessly to find a cure - probably are not among them.
The good news is, thanks to a great idea, and the efforts of connected parties across the globe, this social media sensation just may have put ALS into the spotlight long enough to make a true difference. Hopefully, one that will make the ALS Foundation itself, eventually obsolete.