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Kony 2012 and the Social Media Life We Live

If you haven’t seen the latest video by Invisible Children about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, then you probably don’t spend much time on Facebook or you live under a rock. The almost 30 minute video, which you can view here, details the atrocities in Uganda that have occurred under the wrath of Kony and begs for his capture this year, 2012.

Admittedly, I am not the most knowledgeable person regarding these issues, but the idea is this. Blast Kony’s picture and what he has done all over the world through social media and then there will not be people like me who have not heard of Kony. People’s support and concern will motivate world governments to support Uganda in searching for Kony and eventually he will be captured to be put to trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The basis of the Kony 2012 campaign is obviously to catch him in the year 2012, but the 2012 also represents 20 celebrities and 12 politicians. Invisible Children is asking its supporters to target those people and ask them to support the mission. (Just watch the video, it will make more sense) They are also asking ordinary citizens to share the video with their friends, through Facebook, word of mouth, and every means possible.

The video has already spread like wildfire across the internet. Any google search will show you that people are talking. It worked. People want to know who Kony is and most want to do something to help. However, with anything, people are starting to criticize Invisible Children, the campaign, and the idea behind Kony 2012.

I’ll admit that at first thought, the campaign seemed absurd to me. The idea of people just sharing a video on Facebook and changing the world is insane. This video with the Czech philosopher Zizek might support that idea. But the more I thought about it and watched the campaign unfold, I began to change my mind.

First, the simple goal of the Kony 2012 campaign is not necessarily for everyone to begin changing the world. It is simply to raise awareness of Josephy Kony’s crimes. A social media campaign, as they have chosen it, is simply the best and most effective way to do this in our day and age. People are linked in and rely on Facebook and their friends for news. Clay Shirky would agree with this power of the internet. (For more info, check out this TED talk.)

For me, the reason I can get behind Invisible Children’s mission is the same reason that many people dislike this campaign or cause. The simple fact that they still get out and travel across the country spreading the word. They visit college campuses to speak about the crimes occurring in Uganda, they bring some of the children to speak, and they actually do work in Uganda as well. Their campaign is not only on Facebook, it is also in real-time. They have just recognized the power of social media and capitalized on that.

The challenge is now on the viewers. Now that you have seen the video, what will you do? Will you work to make Uganda a better place? Or will you choose another cause? While their focus is obviously Uganda, their end goal is peace and I think that’s a worthy one.

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