Kony 2012: Empowering or Overhyped? PRO

Maya Sherne, Staff Writer

On March 5, the non-profit organization Invisible Children launched a 30-minute video-ad encouraging global citizens to make African warlord Joseph Kony famous, and bring him to justice. After millions of views and countless mentions on Facebook, the Kony 2012 campaign saw its first threads of controversy. As several facts came to light, the critics and supporters of Kony 2012 campaign were equally divided.

Watch and feel moved. Feel empowered. Feel proud. Repost. Retweet. Like. Blog. Email. Spread the link. Save the world. Millions of people did just this. Step by step. View by view.  Kony 2012 is changing a generation and reaffirming the endless potential of social media activism.

On March 5, Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to securing the futures of children in Northern Uganda, launched a 30-minute video to promote their “Stop Kony” campaign, a movement to capture war criminal Joseph Kony and bring him to justice.

The Kony 2012 video inspires young people to help others― a big step in overcoming the selfish values of our generation.

Eighty-six million people now know that evil exists outside fairytales and history books.  Inhumanity has occurred since the beginning of time and continues to happen; the differences that the Kony campaign is making is that now, young people are motivated to change it.

For my generation, this video is groundbreaking. It captures and engages its viewers’ attention. I am aware that the video oversimplifies and distorts facts in order to make a more intriguing and powerful video, but at a time when students care about little outside their own small world, I think we should all agree that it is amazing.

Any way a person develops a greater understanding of the world is beneficial, even if it is forged by a YouTube video and spread by Facebook. Regardless of a person’s misinterpretation or jump at the chance to be a part of the next social bandwagon, awareness remains better than ignorance.

Everyone has things going on; we rush from place to place, planning ahead and missing out on simple things that pass us by. Invisible Children recognized that although people don’t have time to devote to studying the world’s atrocities, they have time to watch a video and forward a link.

That kind of social media reached millions of people. Although most disregarded the video after a few days, a select few took it as an opportunity to further educate themselves.

New social media tools have opened the door to a more promising future for online social activism. Social media enables the powerless to coordinate, collaborate, and create a unified voice. Kony 2012 demonstrated the impact social media can have, especially on youth, and a person’s ability to use this “tool” to advance important causes.

There are many criticisms of the Kony 2012 campaign. First, the video is intentionally “dumbed down” for its viewers, simplifying and dramatizing the facts in order to appeal to a larger audience. But most news organizations do this too, so should we bash them as well? In all honesty, I’m not concerned with how Invisible Children operates.  Not because I agree with corrupt organizations, but because I do not believe the organization’s money is their greatest contribution to global change.

Advocacy is the organization’s primary objective. Their mission is to advocate and inspire America’s youth to “do more than just watch,” in order to give a voice to those who aren’t heard, and to make the invisible visible.

If activists are able to combine the outreach of social media with the power of in-person dialogue, our generation will be able to create the greatest changes.

In this day and age, few see students protesting at college rallies, or marching in front of political buildings. Social media has enabled people to “make change” from the comfort of their home. Although the Kony campaign started online and was viewed by the individual, it called for national rallies and protests in hopes of reviving our nation’s declining physical presence of outrage.

People feel a false sense of fulfillment by simply tweeting about a global crisis, but as much as I believe that one person can make a difference, physical action needs to be taken in order to make positive change. Posting a link is not enough; change only comes when awareness develops into action. Take action, and action will happen.

Interested in the counterargument? Check out staffer Kelsi Lerner’s: https://www.mhsmirador.com/opinion/2012/04/20/kony-2012-empowering-or-overhyped-con/