NB: While this post does differ slightly from my main point of “adventure” I really felt strongly that I needed to address this issue. And seeing that a lot of the adventure I want to get involved in stems from humanitarian work, I think this is connected.
KONY 2012 has recently swept the nation. For anyone who hasn’t seen the video – you obviously haven’t been on Facebook in the last week. The video is everywhere. Every one of your friends has shared it, liked it, commented on it, joined the event, liked the cause, sang about it in the shower, etc. Recently, some contradictory opinions have come to light: blogs and articles written by people claiming to unmask Invisible Children or sharing facts about this corrupt organization. The new trend is to share and like these blog posts…and try to pretend you didn’t share and like the original video. For heaven’s sake – you’re not a bandwaggoner!
The ironic thing is, people are sharing and uploading these blog posts with just as much fervour as when they shared and liked the original video. I’ve seen very little original thought. I’ve seen a lot of people jumping on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. You’re either pro-KONY 2012 or you’re anti-KONY 2012. There is no in between.
I completely disagree.
I watched the KONY 2012 video two days ago (a little late on the bandwagon, I’ll admit) and I was touched by what I saw. While I did have some hesitation and scepticism, I didn’t let that ruin the impact of the video for me. I’ve also been socially active and done humanitarian work most of my life. I was excited to see other people put effort into such a good cause.
Then the controversy hit. People argued about where the money was going. People pulled out facts about how Uganda is now in peace talks and Kony is withering away somewhere. People asked where Africa was in all this. People, very quickly, became anti-KONY 2012.
Let me be clear: I love that secondary opinions are being presented. I recently watched a TED talk about the danger of the single story. The one version presented by Invisible Children is not the entire story. But neither are the “facts” presented by joeblo11 on his personal blog. I think it’s ridiculous that people are so quick to throw away this brilliant documentary or to side with it based on only one version of the story.
In my opinion, the KONY 2012 video was brilliant. For the first time in history, social media is being affectively utilised to mobilize a movement and affect change. That is remarkable. That is the true success of KONY 2012. People are realizing that they have power to do something. People are realizing that they can make a difference. People are realizing that they have a voice and a presence and the power to take action for something they believe in.
And the content? Sure, there are pros and cons. But I choose to look at the positive things that came out of this video. I had no idea who Joseph Kony was before this video, and now I do. I acknowledge that other terrible warlords and criminals and genocidaires exist in our world but today, I learned about one of them. That’s one more than I learned about yesterday.
And yes, the situation in Uganda is getting better. Invisible Children states that in their video! They’re not trying to cover up the success Uganda has had. But they believe, as do I, that Kony still deserves to be arrested and punished. The fact remains that he is still at large and should pay for his horrendous crimes.
I think the worst and most dangerous controversy surrounding this video can be summed up by a meme that reads: “One does not simply – destabilize a Ugandan warlord by liking a status.” While I get that the message may be urging people to take physical action beyond their computer screen, it is completely undermining the power of social media. Clearly all the likes and shares and uploads have been powerful – you woudln’t know about Kony if they weren’t! So yes, while “liking” a status may not directly help arrest Joseph Kony, the power of raising awareness which leads to action will lead to his arrest. We shouldn’t underestimate our power! Especially when the use of social media to fight against humanitarian injustice is so new. It’s a brilliant tool to use; we shouldn’t downplay it’s power. Most of all, we shouldn’t discourage people who may have believed that they could help. I do agree that we should all be encouraged to help more actively (read:off screen), but a lot can be done by sheer force of numbers on screen.
And, finally, to those who are calling this video a marketing scheme or a brainwashing tool…. It is a marketing scheme. And a freaking successful one at that. This video is captivating! They are using all the technological tools of social media at their disposal. And why shouldn’t they? They shouldn’t be given any less credit because they made a flashy video. It was smart and it worked. Is it brainwash? I don’t think so. We all have the ability to think critically about the information being presented. For example, while I support the fight against Joseph Kony and I intend to write to officials to help lead to his arrest, I don’t know enough about the organization to send them money. I would do more research before I started sending them a monthly check. If the worst of the “brainwashing” has been to convince people to care about a cause and fight for the arrest of a guilty warlord – then let’s hope our craniums got a thorough washing!
Okay, probably enough ranting. I just needed to get that off my chest. Basically, I do believe in educating ourselves and seeking more information. I don’t believe that everything presented by Invisible Children is true. I do believe that Joseph Kony should be stopped. I do believe that there is power in using social media as a tool against crimes like these. I do believe that people, in particular the youth, are capable of creating change that they want to see in the world. And I do believe that this video can be a seed for inspiring action and bringing about change on any and every global issue we care about.
Sometimes we just need a little reminder of how much power we have to do it!