Facebook and Philanthropy- #ALSicebucketchallenge

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

–Victor Frankl (Psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, all around badass).

Dump a bucket of ice water on your head, and you save yourself from donating money to a cause or a charity of your choosing. Tag your friends and challenge them to complete the challenge. The more friends you challenge (apparently three-four is the standard of practice) the better the odds of someone not being able to complete the challenge and have to pay some money!

If you have been following this trend ebb and flow, you may have noticed the increase in recent celebrities, Steve-O, Charlie Sheen etc., beginning to challenge those others in Hollywood that have the economic resources to actually contribute to this recent cause.

Most of these celebrities already have some type of charitable involvement and are philanthropic by nature… some. So why are they compelled to do it? Bill and Melinda Gates have their own private charity ($32 billion in 2006)! A very successful foundation, mammoth by any standard. One of the most affluent men in the world, who gives a large percentage of his own money to the service of others and research… DID THE CHALLENGE!

Anyone would agree: THIS IS A GREAT IDEA! It’s contagious! Malcolm Gladwell in his book BLINK reported the best ideas are sticky, meaning they have the ability to catch on.
WE FULLY SUPPORT NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS UTILIZING (*effective) FREE ADVERTISING (i.e. social media)! If you have ever been a part of a nonprofit, you can’t help but root for their success. As it has been historically very difficult for nonprofit organizations to raise money and use that money for advertising (as opposed to direct cause).

The money donated by each individual contributes to a larger cause and the organization overhead (behind the scenes costs such as fundraising, salaries etc.). Dan Pallota shares the way we think about charity stems from an old paradigm, one that is not serving our current state of affairs.

This maniac shows his anger about this topic…

Check out this eye opening TED talk by Dan Pallota about this issue, to help inform your decision: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfAzi6D5FpM

People living with ALS in the United States (about 30,000) can shine bright, their time in the spotlight has come. Soak it up, but also put on sunblock because skin cancer is THE leading cause of cancer in the United States.

What about other (read: more prevalent) diseases that are getting little to no attention? In his compelling book, Simplexity- Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be made Simple), Jeffrey Kluger a senior writer for TIME magazine examines how we are confused by “false targets.” In chapter 10 of this book, the heading poses a gripping questions, Why are only 10 percent of the world’s medical resources used to treat 90 percent of its ills?

Ever hear of the 90-10 rule?

“In general, for every dollar spent worldwide to battle disease, about 90 cents go to ills that threaten only 10 percent of the global population. The other 90 percent of humanity gets the remaining medical dime. From disease to disease and continent to continent this rule holds relatively steady a fact that is simultaneously indefensible and sensible (Kluger, 2008, pg. 262).
Kluger, with all the empathy one could must goes on to compare Parkinson’s disease to this rule. “Nonetheless, the fortunate fact is that the number of Americans who contract the disease annually is only sixty thousand.”

He continues bravely, “in many respects, that’s an awful lot- a stadium full of Americans year after year. But compare it to the stunning 500 million people worldwide who may be infected with malaria and the one hundred thousand people the disease kills every month and the Parkinson’s toll looks less bleak (pg. 262).

500,000 infected with malaria worldwide.

100,000 killed by malaria every month.

So many other comparisons are available. Kluger carries on, “The same kind of imbalance holds for other disease as well: multiple sclerosis which strikes eleven thousand Americans each year, compared to simple diarrheal diseases that have an annual global death toll of 2.2 million; Alzheimer’s disease, which occurs in only 5 percent of people between sixty-five and seventy-four, versus measles, which still kills up to four hundred thousand unvaccinated victims worldwide every year- the overwhelming majority of them children under 5” (pg. 262-263).

2.2 million deaths worldwide from diarrheal diseases.

400,000 victims worldwide from measles.

The numbers are staggering, shocking. We are operating with an out of sight, out of mind type of paradigm in the USA. “That is ‘over’ there,” a friend of mine shared about malaria impact. I agree, we are very removed from the struggles and strife of this disease in Africa and other parts of the world.

This is information. We live in an era of information, where the currency is knowledge. We live in a worker-knowledge age, according to Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of High Effective People). How is it that this has become so sticky and contagious? Let’s talk about memes for a second and try to bridge these two/three co-occurring phenomena.

What is a meme? A meme is non-genetically transmitted ideas and cultural phenomena, to others. Unlike genes, which are passed from one generation to another via parent to a child, memes are passed to anyone without the act of intercourse and birth.

Let Amy from Big Bang Theory give you a hilarious synopsis:

Our favorite transmission of information and cultural zeitgeist are the pictures with texts, such as the more recent Kermit sipping tea saying “But that’s none of my business though,” or Grumpy Cat, or “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.” This is just the latest string of memes and they continue to evolve and grow. What messages, information, cultural paradigms, are we transmitting with these recent call-to-action challenges?

Remember when email became a “thing?” It was popular and fresh and nouvelle? It didn’t take long after its inception and acceptance before we started getting spammed, receiving chain emails, and offers from an African businessman to make small investments of our own money to make large amounts?

Remember those days?

What happened to you when you didn’t send another cryptic chain email to 7 people before midnight?

Did you die? Were you worse off for not having done it? Did you have an antisocial scarlet letter stamped on your forehead? Did you benefit from forwarding these? Spiritually, psychologically left scared for not having obeyed the silent masses?

And today’s equivalents of chain emails encouraging to “share” are different… but, in a lot of ways, the same.

For example: You didn’t THUMBS UP and SHARE that picture of Jesus on Facebook? Whelp, that means the devil is winning. These are examples of how the power of social influence have a profound impact on us. With the now ubiquitous nature of the internet, we are inundated with information, and with that, the pressure from our social circle to follow suit. SOLUTION: Let’s all go against the spirit of the times, i.e. become hipsters! Just kidding (no offense to awesome hipsters… nor, just as cool anti-hipsters).

Is this just the beginning, the precursor to a much larger, much more impactful, deeply engaging movement?

Do you remember final scenes of the movie The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington? There was a buildup, the crescendo of years, months of debating for the characters during the times of desegregation. The moral and practical examination, and finally, application of civil disobedience through the eyes and lives of the African American characters paint a brilliant cinematic climax. Gives me chills thinking about it.

Watch this clip of Great Debaters here:

Maybe this current ice bucket challenge, and the conscience behind it is the first of many. It starts with ALS, but it is our hope it does not stop with this ALS ice bucket challenge.

What are our goals as AMERICANS?

What are our goals a worldwide community?

How do we align and engage to solve/alleviate some of the more prevalent diseases or SOCIAL PROBLEMS?

My generation, and the one coming behind us,

The bully is standing on the playground calling us out,
challenging us, and daring us to do something.

Double dog dare.

Triple dog dare.

That is the stimulus.

How do we respond?

More importantly, how do we respond in an informed way?

To know and not apply, is not to know at all.

A new meme is about to manifest: The Anti-Kermit.

The green frog puppet sips his tea nonchalantly. The caption reads:


Binge and Purge: Reflections of a Social Media Addict

I recently took a vacation from social media of all types (except for SnapChat, because cold turkey can kill I hear!), and the benefits were wonderful!
But it wasn’t just social media I took a break from, it was a break from using technology and CONSUMING SO MUCH INFORMATION!

It was a short sabatical.

A typical day went like this:
Wake up, check phone,
Exercise, use Nike+ app and Spotify app,
Make nutritious breakfast, surf the web (KCCO! DMA is brilliant),
Shower, and get dress, while listening to music on Spotify/Youtube (Pandora is oldnews btw),
Play guitar before work, using phone to search tabs and how to vids on Youtube,
Check: phone periodically betweek clients at work, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat,
Eat lunch, surf the web, read emails, tweet out some philisophical and esoteric nonesense,
Wrap up at work, checking phone periodically,
Head home, surf the web, watch a movie (Netflix, Hulu, HBO),
Eat a delicious dinner with my lovely wife (avoid using phone for fear of the snarling “glare”), we have a rule (which is not always followed to the T) no phones at the dinner table,
Before bedtime, read a book, surf the web, mess with creative apps (Sketchbook, Over, Brushes, IMovie, PicPostPlay, GifBoom).
Alarm is already set on my IPhone.
And is starts all over again the next day.

With a break from technology, I had much more time… for myself and for others.

No checking the phone incessantly. Some genius on the internet shared checking Facebook regularly was analogous to walking over to the refrigerator to open it and stare in, despite being hungry.

Just to check.

A feeling of morally superiority came over me, maybe stroking my ego for being “disciplined.”
But that is secondary to the actual benefits of not ‘wasting’ time, and doing something more constructive.

I read a few books. I didn’t tweet any quips or words of wisdom gained from this literature. I wasn’t thinking of my next post, how it would sound, how to formulate it correctly to gain friends and collect likes. I wasn’t living my life with the foreshadowing thought of which filter to use, what caption to accompany these “slices of eternity” (< that’s from Søren Kierkegaard).

I think a big question to explore is the WHY?

Why take a break? What had happened to me?

While at a farewell gathering for an older friend, a gentleman commented on the depth of my involvement in social media. “You are one of those social media type of guys?”

Am I? Was I? What the heck does that even mean?

My mind was racked with justifications, rationalizations and maybe… excuses.

"It’s a thing my generation does."

"Benjamin Franklin use to cart rolls of paper through the streets of Philadelphia for the sole purpose of appearing industrial, he had his own printing press buisiness, he was the first PR specialist. Me like him, this is my forum to self promote, self enhance, aggrandize."

Are there truth to these reasons? Sure.

In polling some close friends, I asked them to gauge time and percent of a day spent on social media or using technology to that, on average in one day. They had different responses, some as low as 1-2 hours.

Me. I’m an addict. I’m multitasking constantly.

HOW can I truly be “fully present” when my mind is spread thin, pulled in multiple directions at all times?

In my line of work, generous attention and generous attunement can be healing in and of itself.
This practice keeps me rooted in the importance of mindfulness.

But what about the practice of mindlessness? Tuning out. Going zombie.

No longer is the use of social media what we do when we are waiting.
It has become what we do while everything else waits for us to finish.

And we (read: me) allow it to be so.

I have been mowing over the implications of consuming this much information.

Are we not said to be in the age of the information ecomony?
Isn’t it well know that Knowledge is Power?

Power. Ecomony. Information.

What happens when our desire for upward mobility, self promotion, via consuming information becomes the problem? I saw a figure that reported there is more NEW created content every 24 hours than total in the last 30 years… each day. That is a TON of info to absorb, process and integrate.

But what happens when someone does do just that? Do they go super saiyan? Do they levitate and leave the earth? I doubt it. Do we become smarter?

Maybe there are categories of users, super users (hyper-users) and hypo-users? And the average, the typical bell curve distrubation of average users who fall within the middle ranges of use. Maybe there are certain personalities who have a proclivity to use social media more than typical, such as extroverts or type As?

We have may questions, and i’m sure as time goes on, the proper research will shed light on this idea. The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the Bible of mental health, has for consideration the diagnosis of internet gaming disorder.

To take a break is healthy. As the timeless wisdom reminds us, too much of anything can be bad for you. For example, we are made of water, we are recommended to consume a certain quantity of H20 daily. But if you consume too much, you get hyponatremia (water intoxication) which is potentially fatal.

Too much social media. Too much twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat.

How can my generation overcome this powerful tool? We praise it for it’s good and it’s ability to connect and share. But what about the side effects? How do we use this tool without it killing us slowly?

Many more questions come of these questions? Many answers to follow as time passes and scholarly people figure out what is operating underneath. You don’t have to be a social scientist to figure out too much social media pulls you away from what is important in life. The pictures have made their rounds on the internet, of a group of people staring into their phones; children on swings in a park playing on tablets, not swinging of course; and Albert Einstein’s quote underneath each picture, reminding us of the long term psycho-socio-political consequences.

Maybe I am a “social media” type of guy. But, I refuse to allow it to steal away that, which is most precious, my time, FOR SELF AND OTHERS.

Is there a balance? Does anyone really care if we strike a balance?
More thoughtful discussion is needed to have a clear answer, and to find better alternative solutions.

I see crash courses in social media advertised, but no courses for managing social media accounts, nor couses in self management.

As I ease back into the use of social media, I find myself asking, “is this really that important?”

Like the empty fridge analogy, will something different be there if I check more/less frequently?
What are we really hungry for? What is that thing we a searching for to satiate that great human need of belonging and connection?

Better post this to Facebook (OH, THE IRONY!)