Everybody is talking about the Kony 2012 video that went viral about two days ago. The number of online activists have soared in response to this video, but it has also produced a lot of tension between these newly awake “activists” and those who are mocking their friends for “jumping on the bandwagon”. Although I am grateful that more and more people are becoming aware of an issue that has been going on for almost two decades now, I worry that the effects of this video will be fleeting just like any other has-been issue that is now suppressed by the continuous downpour of social media. Also, one of my greatest fears is of a large population acting out for what is thought to be a greater good without any real knowledge on the issue itself.
To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.
- Lao Tzu
I’ve been involved with Invisible Children for over nine years now ever since it was first introduced to me in high school. I will admit that since then, my attention on the matter came and went depending on whether or not my mind was occupied with other social and even personal issues. Although I find propaganda to be an effective means to stir the emotions of mass populations, I believe it is only when one follows up on what he/she sees and hears with extensive research on the causes and effects of whatever the issue may be, can a logical plan be outlined to solve the greater issue.
I just hope that those who truly wish to advocate on behalf of this campaign follow up their viewing of this viral video with in-depth research of what Kony and the LRA are CURRENTLY up to. For instance, more and more kids are being abducted and turned into child soldiers in the DR of Congo than in Uganda which is actually undergoing the AFTERMATH of Kony’s invasion. Child prostitution, HIV, and AIDS among many other health-related issues are on the rise in Uganda, and we need to identify the real issue as a cry to reform their public health care (which is just as pertinent than anything else) rather than an LRA issue if we want to solve it correctly.
- Tina Lam
All of this online tension that has recently occupied my newsfeed seems rather silly to me. Sharing a video on your facebook does not make you an activist, and it definitely does not give you the right to start an online battle with those who choose to joke about it. Until you’ve lived a day in the life of a child soldier, I don’t want to hear you suddenly pretending to care about Joseph Kony and what he did in Uganda by issuing angry remarks to individuals who find it amusing to poke fun at the latest bandwagon.
For those of you who have been criticizing your friends for “jumping on the bandwagon”, I want you to take a step back and compare what you have been ranting and posting about compared to what they have been “pretending to care” about. Unless you have somehow implanted a mind reading chip in your friends’ brains, you cannot gauge the authenticity of what they care about, so it’s best to just give them the benefit of the doubt. Spreading awareness of a truly horrific situation that is happening in our world sort of trumps generating sarcastic images of your friends who just want to share what they care about does it not?.
Honestly, it doesn’t even matter if no one in the world knew of Joseph Kony or the location of Uganda before this video. What matters is: the video was meant to create enough of a stir within our minds so that everyone who watched it would go out and find out exactly what is going on in Africa. The problem is: very few of these online “activists” are doing the research. Activism has never been limited to the mere clicking of a “share” button.
The problem with Kony 2012 is that it proposes an idealistic and overly simple solution to a deeply complicated and longstanding problem. Social media is an amazing way to distribute and share information but it doesn’t alleviate people of their responsibility to do their own research instead of just believing whatever they see in a video just because all their friends have liked it.
When it comes to global politics, education should stand in the forefront of this battle against ignorance in order to provide young minds with the proper ammo of knowledge, which would allow individuals to know what they are up against when fighting for a cause. The problem is, the idea of education reform has been put to the back burner, and young minds have resorted to social media to influence them. This is why publicity is currently the most effective influence on today’s society. The only issue is: those in charge of PR need to cater to the ebb and flow of the population’s interests. This video going viral is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
A decade ago, a simple newspaper article would have sufficed in creating a stir, but due to the onslaught of information that we are constantly bombarded with in social media, a well-edited video has proven to be more effective. Although the video is great, I wonder how long its effects will last on this issue. That is why those in PR need to take a step back and see that somewhere along the line, humans have apparently started to breed with goldfish and our attention spans are starting to dwindle. We need someone to constantly remind us of the more pressing issues outside of our comfort zones for there to ever be any hope for a lasting change.
To ask people to climb down from the soaring heights of “Kony 2012” a place where they get to feel both sanctified and superior, and truly descend into the mire of history and confusion is simply too big an ask. It would be boring and difficult and it would not be about Facebook or Angelina Jolie or coloured wristbands or me. When the euphoria evaporates and the Twittersphere has dried its tears (probably by the end of this week), all that remains will be yet another powerful myth of African degradation.
- Elliot Ross (http://africasacountry.com)
This is one bandwagon that I am, for the most part, happy to see so many people jumping on. However, without knowledge, activism is nothing but mindless outrage. If you had time to watch a thirty-minute video that tugged at your heartstrings, you have the time to stimulate your brain cells by doing the research on a matter you now care so much about. You definitely can make a difference; all it takes is a good backbone of proper knowledge. I honestly hope the media continues to cater to our young minds by consistently revisiting the issue until it is solved, instead of implanting an arbitrary idea in our heads only for it to be shoved aside by the next trending topic. Hopefully, this campaign is different, and Invisible Children has a whole lineup of videos to continuously educate and inspire people to take part in this cause. One can only hope right?