When discussing the recent events in Ferguson and the ALS ice bucket challenge, social media continues to prove itself to be an unstoppable force. The prevalence of these two topics in social media shows awareness but also provides users a difficult choice between which melancholic hashtag to pay attention to.
The ALS ice bucket challenge has been the largest campaign for ALS ever, raising over 79 million dollars since its establishment, according to the ALS Foundation. The ice bucket challenge spreads a simple message: pour water on yourself to spread awareness or donate money to help the cause. It is a positive message that gets viewers and participants alike excited and enthusiastic about helping this organization. The power of social media is exemplified here, and the positive action it can induce is revolutionary. The rapid spread of hashtags allows information to travel in a fast, concise and communal way. In terms of getting people excited to be involved in a potential cure, or even the idea of progress, the ice bucket challenge has proved to be an almost flawless system.
However, with the positive message spread by the media of the ALS challenge comes the opposite end of the spectrum. The crisis happening in Ferguson centers on death, a clearly dark and twisted topic. The clash between the police and the citizens highlights the systematic inequalities still very much present in our society today. Scrolling through tweets from those in Ferguson, their concern is about their town falling apart, a worry most of us will never have to encounter, even briefly, in our lives. The tragic events happening are a gruesome and gut-wrenching reminder of how unjust our great nation has the capability of being.
While these two events could not be more different in purpose and execution, they both have a great influence on our nation. ALS is an easy topic to get caught up in, and scrolling through the thousands of videos serves as a reminder of the power of our social media outlets. The ice bucket challenge aligns ALS with an attitude of potential and possibility. It gives those participating a direct connection to this organization. Its uplifting nature makes it a beautiful thing to be a part of and watch. Bringing joy to those who watch while also being able to see how much money has been raised is a recipe for success.
Unfortunately, despite all of the good things happening with social media, there are also less positive things. Ferguson is a hard subject to watch. It forces us, as Americans, to really take a look at what is going on. People are less inclined to talk about the things that make them uncomfortable, such as racism and police brutality, and that isn’t a very fun realization to make. No one receives any immediate gratification from discussing these topics.
These issues are polar opposites, but that does not mean that they don’t carry the same weight and significance on our nation. Both are important on different scales. If the United States wants events like those happening in Ferguson to stop, we have to be willing to speak about and trend the topics that aren’t always the most pleasant.