The Ice Bucket challenge is yet another example of mimetic desire, the natural instinct for people to follow each other like lemmings in complete disregard of purpose.
People may be participating in the Ice Bucket because they genuinely care. It validates their altruism, assuming they also donated to defeat ALS. But people are also likely to be participating in the challenge because this is their moment to shine on Twitter and Facebook.
As JG Ballard predicted 27 years ago:
“Every home will be transformed into its own TV studio. We’ll all be simultaneously actor, director and screenwriter in our own soap opera. People will start screening themselves. They will become their own TV programmes.”
Social media is a tidal wave that can generate positive change. Just be weary of other people’s intentions.