Gemma Styles: Why We Need To Keep Up The Social Charity
Praise be the 22 Push-up Challenge.
Ohhh we're a cynical bunch at times - especially on the old interwebs. But in between all the snarking and eye rolling there are plenty of people who genuinely just want to put a bit of goodness out into the world. One of the best examples of this online do-goodery is the (now classic) charity campaign.
There have been a few incarnations so far. From simple raising of awareness, to sharing information or letting people know how they can donate, nothing has quite cornered the market like the public challenge. The latest of these to really make a mark on the viral circuit is the 22 Push-up Challenge. I've actually seen this called a few different things and the rules seem to be varied too; people on my Facebook feed have been giving this one a go and the idea there seems to be that you do 22 push-ups, on video, for 22 days.
Others, notably Chris Evans (aka Captain America) and John Krasinski (aka adorable) have posted their videos as a one off... both including dog cameos, by the way, check them out.
The point of the 22 push-ups, or #22kill as it's known to some, is to raise awareness of the 22 US military veterans who take their own lives every day. While this is the statistic that has fuelled the campaign itself, the point is relevant around the world, and the idea is to promote support and resources for those who have served and been through unimaginably difficult experiences.
Aside from raising awareness, the main plan for these viral challenges is also to bring in some cash - these are charity campaigns, after all, and sadly charities cannot be run solely on our well wishes. This is the point brought up by many who want to find flaws - okay so you look like a good person on your Instagram account but what difference does it make, REALLY? Dubbed 'slacktivism' is this all a bit PR over product? Happily, recent news should help knock some of this negativity on the head.
Scroll back to 2014 and remember one of the most successful viral campaigns: the ice bucket challenge. Literally everyone was chucking iced water over their heads in the name of ALS (more commonly known in the UK as MND, Motor Neurone Disease) and many people at the time were calling out the challenge for being more about keeping up than coughing up - money that is.
Hoooowever, fast forward to now and researchers who were funded by proceeds from the challenge have made a breakthrough discovery, identifying a gene associated with the condition, with a view to some day finding a cure.
This is amazing news and serves a good reminder that for all of the cynicism surrounding "viral" campaigns, they can actually get some really great things done. If you're joining in with the 22 Push-up Challenge, or any other charity causes online, don't forget to have a look at donating too. If you see friends completing the challenges, make their efforts count by remembering to donate if you can.
It's been two years since the ice bucket challenge made its mark - wouldn't it be great if we could look back in twenty years and have a whole list of breakthroughs funded by social activism...