The spirit of activism and the KONY 2012 movement

  • Share
  • CevherShare
  • Share

We talked a little bit last class about the motivation behind volunteerism in America. Various explanations were offered from Fellows and attaches alike: We do it because we care about others; we do it to give back to society; we do it because we feel obligated; we do it to make ourselves feel better. While I personally believe the answer to the question comes on an individual basis and there are many people who volunteer out of a love to serve, I want to focus on the darker side of volunteerism and activism in light of the recent phenomenon of KONY 2012.

The KONY 2012 movement started on Monday. A mere three days later, I think it’s safe to say there are few people in the U.S. who haven’t heard about it. At the time I’m posting this, the campaign video has gotten 37 million hits. 37 million hits in three days is nothing to sneeze at. This movement is powerful.

The organization behind KONY 2012 is called Invisible Children. The goal of the movement (and of the organization in general for many years) is to shed light on the crimes of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda who has committed heinous humanitarian crimes such as abducting children and forcing them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves. The mission of KONY 2012 is to spread the word about Kony so that governments around the world will take notice and work to bring this man to justice. In a few short days, social media has allowed it to spread like wildfire.

I support the movement. I think it’s a great way to spread awareness, and I’ve worked alongside Invisible Children in the past. It’s a wonderful organization, and I think it means well with the KONY 2012 campaign. But there’s a huge caveat in those 37 million views and the scores of shares I’ve been seeing on Facebook.

The word “activism” should be interpreted literally. Frankly, KONY 2012 has become a bandwagon for many. How many people who tweet with the #stopkony hashtag or click “share” on Facebook have actually donated money to Invisible Children? How many have pledged to help in whatever way they can? What does simply spreading awareness do, exactly?

On the one hand, we’ve seen (and I’ve posted about) how social media is most definitely a driving force to enact social change. It can happen. But in most cases, it happens within the country or region that it’s being discussed in (the Occupy movement, the Egyptian revolution, etc.). Does sending a video to your friends on Facebook do anything for the activists and organizations in Uganda fighting to bring this man to justice?

I’m not saying don’t participate. I’m not saying don’t spread the word, because I think it’s a noble cause, and social media is a wonderful way to rally the troops, so to speak. But please, let’s be careful about jumping on the bandwagon without making an attempt to enact change.

Write a letter to a government official. Sign the pledge on the KONY 2012 website. Donate money, time or both to the cause. Let’s put the “active” back in “activism.”

3 Comments on “The spirit of activism and the KONY 2012 movement”

  1. Seriously? Are you that blind and naive that you get swept into every movement without even fact checking or doing research? SCARY bro, scary. This is pure BS. This is so staged it isn’t even funny. It shows how easy it is to fool 16-29 year olds and a bunch of compromised idiots in Hollywood. This reminds us of the osama bin laden bs where college kids were recruited to show up on white house lawn chanting, 3 minutes before Obama even made the announcement. Wake up young people you are being led into deception. Mass shared psychosis. THINK. THINK. THINK. DOn’t get caught in the web of deceit. This is a diversionary tactic. Think hard. There are millions of AMERICAN kids suffering right now in the streets and in homes. Being abused, tortured and neglected and yet, SUDDENLY, there is a viral video alerting us to give aid to a foreign country to help their alleged tortured kids, as if this is an acute situation. This is such a joke. To see young people used and to further a sick and covert political agenda is beyond insanity, but God is watching every move these freaks behind this make and there’s nothing they can hide from God. He knows the truth. Kony 2012 is a LIE> “The production targets an age group between thirteen and twenty-one, and uses a level of academic vocabulary appropriate for a young adult audience with a limited attention span,” says website Prison “KONY 2012 is produced like any other sleek marketing campaign – instead of stimulating elements of self-satisfaction like advertisers would do to promote a product, US military intervention..” How IRONIC that Hollywood stars would support this, when it is fueling public support for another US invasion of a foreign country, when we can’t even TAKE CARE of our OWN CITIZENS.

  2. Julia, I’d be really interested to hear more about how/when you worked with Invisible Children! What was (what surely must have been a powerful experience) that like for you?

    Thank you for your point: “put the ‘active’ back in ‘activism.'” I got the feeling that this week that many of the people who retweeted or shared the video on Facebook didn’t even fully understand who Kony is or why the video has importance. It’s another “fad cause” for people to rally around and make it appear as though they’re socially aware.

    Social media is so powerful. I think a lot of the dialogue this week has been productive and intelligent…I just wish we could see more of it!

  3. Great points Julia!

    KONY has become a hot topic, making national news (Brian Williams just mentioned the KONY web phenomenon in his broadcast).

    I agree that people will “support” a cause through social media, but few will actually take action. Spreading awareness is helpful though, because hopefully the message will be seen by someone who is willing to take action.

Comments are closed.