A campaign that gives us reason to be optimistic
So, we all know about Kony 2012, right?
It’s rather extraordinary to think that you’re probably reading this just five days after the Invisible Children campaign exploded over the internet, and yet you’re probably already thinking “I’m so over it!” A week really is an age in internet time.
And yet, I still don’t quite know what to make of it all. On the one hand, the motives of the campaign are very simple: stop an evil bastard. And, of course, it’s hard to argue against that in any way.
It is true that the evil bastards of the world can only operate when they’re protected by a degree of global anonymity. So, I think it’s a great idea to take just some of the massive amount of attention that’s given each day to Facebook, and point it towards human rights abuses, whether they’re occurring in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, Columbia, China or the Northern Territory.
Joseph Kony seems like a fairly good place to start. He’s had an ICC arrest warrant out against him for seven years, so it’s not like Invisible Children just picked an arbitrary guy out for condemnation.
And, finally, that video is truly powerful, inspiring, motivating, and incredibly emotional. The bar really has been raised, and I’m very sure their motives are completely sincere.
Unfortunately, on the other hand, there’s a lot of big question marks looming over all of it.
The criticisms have been well-and-truly covered elsewhere, and Tory S did a great job of outlining many of them out in her ICB piece on Thursday.
Not withstanding the strong whiff of hipster douchebaggery, for me the biggest problem with the Kony 2012 campaign is how the entire thing is framed.
I was taken aback when I saw that, for example, aside from Stephen Harper and Ban Ki-Moon, the ’12 Policymakers’ targeted in the campaign were all US Politicians. Are these really the 12 people best-placed to take action on this issue? It’s more than a little paternalistic.
And, I should add, nothing irks me more than hearing huge, sweeping statements like “the rules have changed” or that, thanks to social media, “everything is totally different now”. Yeah, OK, tell that to the millions of Chinese who want proper access to Facebook. Yes, things are different, but the world has not been completely turned on its head.
So, in short, this whole thing comes back to that classic divide between optimism and pessimism. Between those who want to hope for the very best, and those who know those hopes are unlikely to be realised. Between the idealists who want justice, and those who know that stopping Kony will just raise many more complex questions that will persist long after the attention to the issue has faded.
Personally, I don’t see any problem coming down on either side of that split.
But, in relation to some of the widespread criticism, it’s worth noting a few things.
If the goal of this campaign so far has been to raise awareness, then it has gotten AMAZING bang for its buck. So, to say that the charity in question does not spend its money wisely is a little disingenuous.
It’s rather hypocritical too that those most critical of the “white man’s burden” implicit in the Kony 2012 video have mostly middle-class white folks. I think we should probably hear some more from those who are – or have been – directly involved in the matter, before we start heeding the words of western journalists and bloggers.
Finally, the #StopKony campaign is less than ONE WEEK OLD! Before you start shooting it down, why not give it a chance to do something first, eh?
Like I said, a week is an age in Internet time, and this campaign will be running for another nine months yet.
So, hold your fire. Or, at least some of it, until December 31.
Whether Invisible Children are indeed able to achieve their stated goal through this campaign remains very much to be seen.
Their huge challenge now is to sustain this “buzz” in the medium-term, and should Kony be captured, maintain it in the long-term to properly help those whom he terrorized for so many years.
I am sceptical as to whether that will actually happen. But, I am also hopeful. Like I said, let’s just wait and see.
For now, we can definitively say just one thing: that this whole phenomenon has once again proven the amazing power of social media to draw global attention to things that really do matter. Nobody in the West really knew anything about this serious issue, and yet just five days later, here we are with millions of people willing to do something to fix it.
It might be a little misdirected, but it’s something.
For that reason alone, we should all be at least a teensy bit optimistic. Not just for the so-called “invisible children” of East Africa, but for children everywhere, and the world they will grow up in.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@joekiely just beat the crus. No sweat eh?
@bolgo101 Stick ROG in front of the posts and you still have white knuckles
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…