In Praise of: the #icebucketchallenge

Donald Clarke may yet warm to the idea of a chilly dip for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association

TDs and Senators are dunked by Trinity staff and students in Front Square in aid of motor neurone disease research. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

TDs and Senators are dunked by Trinity staff and students in Front Square in aid of motor neurone disease research. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 01:00

Since my colleague Donald Clarke poured cold water over the ice bucket challenge (and, inexplicably, Christmas jumpers) on these pages last week, more than €500,000 has made its way to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association from tens of thousands of (block your ears now, Donald) ‘good sports’ who had probably not even heard of the charity at the beginning of August.

More than €1 million has already been raised here while the tally for like-minded groups across the world has now passed €50 million.

To be fair to Donald, while he moaned about the merits of people throwing buckets of ice cold water over themselves in the name of fun, he did acknowledge that the money raised was a good thing.

Phew.

The thing is, this is about more than just raising awareness or cash. The ice bucket challenge has taken over from the dangerously stupid neknomination notion as the biggest viral trend of the year and in doing so it has highlighted how social networks can very quickly, and without a lot of effort, make the world a slightly better – and slightly funnier – place.

Film director David Lynch murdering Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the trumpet as he is doused; Chris O’Dowd nominating his unborn child – and simultaneously announcing Dawn O’Porter’s pregnancy to the world; the Irish mammy who got her timing wrong and drenched her son before he started his own nominations and a Montessori teacher from Drogheda doing the necessary and then running painfully – but hilariously – into a washing line, are just four of the nominations which added to the gaiety of the nation this week.

There are thousands more. Yes, it’s a silly fad that will fade away and sure it’s nothing more than a giant Ponzi scheme really. But it’s a Ponzi scheme for good and not evil and for that alone it deserves kudos .

I nominate Donald Clarke to take the challenge – or at least I would if I had done it myself.