People should advocate more for causes they care about

Rachel Cohen, Eastside Editor-in-Chief

Starting a few weeks ago, Facebook newsfeeds exploded with ALS Ice Bucket Challenge posts, marking one of the few times that an advocacy campaign went viral. Many students from Cherry Hill East participated in this challenge either by making the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video, posting information about ALS or by pledging to donate to the ALS Association. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done great things for ALS; according to the ALS Association website, it has received 94.3 million dollars between July 29 to August 27. This advocacy campaign has obviously worked, and from the plethora of videos from people who have ALS, ALS victims seem to be feeling the support. However, there is one main concern I have with this social media campaign and other campaigns that seem to go viral throughout the world, which is that these campaigns are trends.

Unfortunately, many teenagers do not seem to have causes that they regularly support. Based off of my own friends that I follow on social media, they seem to post about hot issues that are trending but seem to lack awareness for other causes that receive less attention in the media. One of the reasons why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign’s results are so fantastic is because ALS received very little attention in the media prior to this campaign so now the people who I mentioned previously are very aware of what ALS is but still lack knowledge of other causes that have not trended on social media. Rarely do I see teens advocating for a campaign that they are personally passionate about or spreading awareness for a cause. During the height of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there was so much going on in the world and very few posts from teenagers regarding these issues. Specifics are the Ebola outbreak, Ferguson, ISIS, and the Gaza War, which have all been huge issues this summer. There are also many other social issues, campaigns and diseases like ALS that are always prevalent and need support. While it may be too difficult to keep track of every single social issue or campaign for a cause, it would be great if teenagers had a few causes that they did not learn about through trends on social media that spark a flame in them. It is great that so many people jumped in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, either by donating or dumping the ice water on their heads, but I wish more people would start posting about campaigns or issues that are important to them regularly. Some may say that advocating on social media isn’t very effective, but social media is a great way for people to share feelings and information about certain issues to a large group of followers or also ask for donations to a specific organization. Hopefully the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign has made people more comfortable with advocating on social media and there will be more posts about other causes in the future.

Another concern about these trends it that people tend to participate in trends because they don’t want to feel left out, or in the case of charity or social protest, they don’t want to look like a jerk. In the case of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, people were nominated to participate which resulted in a much greater participation level than that of regular social media trends. The idea of nominating others to participate in raising awareness or donating to charity is great, but I think people should participate because they actually care and not because they might feel guilty if they don’t. Donating to charity and raising awareness should not be a hassle to people. I really hope in the case of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge that no one poured water on their head in vain—and that everyone participated because they generally wanted to help with the campaign. People should participate in charity work and raising awareness for a cause because they really want to and not because everyone else is doing so. Before posting, people should educate themselves on the specific trend to make sure it is something they truly want to support.

No matter what, it is important that people continue to show their support for certain causes. The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral after a few videos and articles, which shows that any post can go a long way. In this generation, social media is a great tool to use to call for social change. We have the power to raise awareness for the causes we are most passionate about all at the touch of our fingertips. Let’s take advantage of this and be sure to support many more causes—trending or not.