The first time I watched the Kony 2012 video, I found it curious. Then I watched it a second time and realized that, contrary to the rave reviews from everyone blowing up my Facebook feed, the Kony 2012 video (and subsequent campaign) is nothing but inaccurate propaganda intended to target the average American young adult who will propagate information, no matter what it is, in order to feel like they’ve “changed the world” in this age of youth indirection.
Let’s start with the video. First, the oversimplification of the facts is atrocious – no one can appreciate the full breadth of the situation and all its complexities when it is displayed on a black and white format suited for a four-year-old with no concept of “the grey area.” Second, Kony 2012 fails to acknowledge the fact that the Ugandan military also employed child soldiers – a shocking omission, given Invisible Children’s overarching mission. Third, the film gives a misleading impression of Joseph Kony’s strength and his area of operation – Kony is currently somewhere in the Central African Republic with only a few hundred soldiers – a drastic difference from the tens of thousands at the height of his power. The fact that Invisible Children is willing to either ignore or give lip service to the reality of the situation in exchange for YouTube views and retweets on Twitter is reprehensible. I could go further, but I do have a space limit.
As for the campaign, it fails to account for the number of individuals who will inevitably engage in “slacktivism.” The advent of social media has made it so the average American young adult can hop on to a number of causes without knowing what they actually are – and without feeling any motivation. I have respect for those who take the time to do their research – but those are few in number. How many of the 86 million viewers of the Kony 2012 film know the Lord Resistance Army’s (LRA) history in Uganda? How many decided to read up on it after viewing the film? And how many simply clicked the “share” button and smiled smugly, patting themselves on the back for a job well done, only to forget about the video a week later?
Let me lay it out for you: Sharing a video does not make you a warrior for the cause, nor does buying a bracelet, nor hanging up some flyers nor putting a Kony sticker on your MacBook. Out of approximately 5,000 students on campus, I haven’t heard a sound about Kony 2012 in the last two weeks. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like a captive populace that’s determined to make a difference – it sounds like a passive society that “paid its dues” to the cause and went on its merry way. Change isn’t about “action kits” – it’s about giving those affected by Kony’s atrocities the resources necessary to take control of their own destiny. Invisible Children and Kony 2012 depend on publicity and propaganda to further a flawed agenda that only barely serves in the best interests of those affected by the LRA – and the fact that many are willing to play into it only validates their tactics.