Over the last few months, I've noticed that each time I log into Facebook, I'm face-to-face with a short video featuring someone I went to high school with but haven't seen in over ten years.

All of the videos look and sound the same.

"This is Mike accepting the ice bucket challenge to strike out ALS," Mike will say, and then pour a huge bucket of ice water over his head. Then he'll call out three of his friends, nominating them to do the same. The friends, also tagged on Facebook, have 24 hours to complete the challenge.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Facebook/Mike Ferrarone

Boston.com finally has a clear explanation,

To participate, get a bucket-full of ice water and pour it on your head while wearing regular clothing. Then, with the icy water still trickling down your back, nominate friends to take the same challenge. If they're too chicken, the friends can donate some amount of money to a charity. Otherwise, the cycle repeats, and each nominates three more friends to take the challenge. Of course, the entire challenge should be filmed and posted to your social media platform of choice.

The challenge isn't linked to one cause specifically, but the charity that's been most talked about in the videos is ALS, or as it's commonly referred: Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary movement. This Facebook initiative, picking up traction in the summer months, is a way to gain awareness.

But the tone of each video, the same scripted call outs by those standing in the spotlight, sounds familiar to an internet trend we've seen in the past. In the winter, teenagers were participating in NekNominate games, where one would film themselves shotgunning beers or downing liquor, then calling out their friends to do the same in 24 hours. 

The game was dubbed lethal — it took the lives of several young adults in February. 

The game died down and in June, the #IceBucketChallenge was born, almost as if it arrived to take its place as a more mature version of a fun trend. 

But some people point out that the challenge, while conducive to social media fame and attention, does not always translate into donations for the cause.



For Boston, the challenge is something that's close to the hearts of its residents. Boston.com is holding a public #IceBucketChallenge today in Copley Square. Boston.com's Eric Levenson explains its significance:

For Boston area ice bucket challengers, the goal is to raise money for research on ALS - also known as Lou Gehrig's disease - in honor of local inspiration Pete Frates. 29-year-old Frates played baseball at Boston College and was diagnosed with ALS two and a half years ago