Opinion: #Kony2012 is Working, Having an Impact on Gen Y

Unless you’ve given up your internet access for Lent (or probably even if you have) you’ve heard about Joseph Kony and Invisible Children’s campaign to propel him to fame. And if you’ve heard of him, chances are you have an opinion. Hundreds of thousands of newly impassioned Gen Y-ers have reposted, tweeted and shared the video.

Popularity does not exist without critics, some bringing up valid concerns, others refusing to “join the charitable band wagon” just because it’s cool to disagree.

You can find the background on Find Kony 2012 here, as another TNGG blogger explores the negative implications of the campaign.

The intentions behind the video are undeniably noble: find a murderous war lord and bring him to justice.

The critics are just as right to question such a popular movement born out of one organization, who has been no stranger to criticism long before their viral video.

But before you disregard Joseph Kony like the internet community did Rebecca Black, using a tumblr page that has been up for one day to justify it, step back and look at what the movement has done.

I don’t know about your facebook newsfeed, but people I’ve never known to read anything other than Cosmo have been getting involved. There is an open dialogue about what to do about Joseph Kony and the LRA. A week ago what was another issue in Africa relegated to the backburner of international news is on the front page of major newspapers, blogs, trending on twitter and getting everyone’s attention. Guess what? Kony2012 is working.

Whether you consider it ‘slactivism’ or getting a generation known for its apathy, as director of ‘The Occupiers’ said last week when I interviewed him, to get involved in a massive social campaign, the fact remains that the video has millions of views and is reaching almost everyone using a social networking site.

Many disagree with Invisible Children’s plan to collect funds for the Ugandan Army, another violent organization, to find Kony. This criticism is not unfounded nor is it new, but Kony 2012 has created a dialogue to discuss other options to a problem that most people didn’t know about a month ago but has been ravaging Africa for years.

Agree to disagree, but this viral video has done what many have thought was impossible—getting Gen Y to care about something other than memes or cat videos.

Danielle Messler I am a 20-something year old New England native that is curious of the world around me. I love to travel and have spent time living in Udaipur, India and London, England; and I plan to call many other places home.

View all posts by Danielle Messler

5 Responses to “Opinion: #Kony2012 is Working, Having an Impact on Gen Y”

  1. Philip Crean

    ““join the charitable band wagon” just because it’s cool to disagree”

    I disagree. Not because it’s cool, but because it takes more than a 30 minute video to persuade me on any topic. If an emotionally charged 30 minute video can persuade everyone’s opinion then society isn’t far removed from the times of charismatic dictators.

    What makes this a more worthy cause than say intervening in Syria? What about all the designer clothes that you and I both wear? You have to know it was likely made by a child working 13 hours a day for a dollar. Should we stop buying them in the hopes the children don’t have to work. Then they would starve.

    “you disregard Joseph Kony like the internet community did Rebecca Black”

    How in anyway are these related?

    “getting Gen Y to care about something other than memes or cat videos.”

    Gen Y hasn’t done anything yet, except watch a video. They haven’t covered the night or dropped 30 bucks for the action kit.

    Have you been paying attention to Gen Y? While it’s of WWII caliber, Gen Yers I know of enlist for war, seek higher education more than ever, stood up for income inequalities, and give a crap about the environment.

    I admit I am curious to see where this campaign goes.


  2. Danielle Messler

    Thanks for your comments!

    While almost everyone can take a side on Kony 2012, I doubt even half the people that have an opinion today knew about him or the LRA yesterday.

    I agree that a movement from one source shouldn’t go without inquiry and background research, similarly it should not be discarded because of a few sources that say other wise.
    Maybe IC isn’t the way to go, but people are now exploring other courses of action.

    In regards to Syria, perhaps if the public was posting a similar video about the situation there, we would see more action or an intervention. There are a million causes in the world and a case can be made for every one.

    But no matter what side you’re on, you’re talking about it which is a win for Kony 2012. They wanted to make him famous, and at least for the next 48 hours, they did.

    It will be interesting to see where this all goes, and whether or not it enjoys the sensationalism of other online movements and burns out quickly.

    Thanks again for reading, Philip!

  3. Nathan

    There are very interesting aspects of the KONY 2012 Campaign. It illustrates several topics concerning an evolving social society. I think there are things you must consider when analyzing this campaign.

    1. Invisible Children- The maker of this viral documentary, a Non-Profit based in San Diego has been in several articles questioned for their use of funds. Their high employee salaries, and there film-making funding.

    The use of funds is irrelevant to the purpose of the campaign. It is being run just as any other non-profit is doing, and they’re doing it very well.
    The only questions to be raised is the grey area that lies between the reality of arresting Joseph Kony, and making a profit off the emotions of the masses. (Which is done by more non-profits than you can imagine…sad animal commercial) If creating a public awareness is the goal, they’ve achieved it. If it leads to the arrest of Kony, amazing. If they use those profits to pursue the next issue in Africa. Wonderful. Thats what NPO’s are supposed to do.

    2. Joseph Kony- Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He has been pursued by many governments, and has always evaded capture. He has been accused of several crimes against human rights and many that mirror genocide. This has been going on far longer than anyone cares to acknowledge, and the reason he hasn’t been captured is not because of public awareness, but the role that Uganda as well as many other third world countries have on International Policy. The United Nations have been a very Weak influence in many countries of Africa, which leads to the question of why?
    Why is that not only our government but other international political bodies, haven’t thought much of ending violence, or poverty or disease.
    The answer lies in the ideas of these countries with virtually no education, or political stability.
    If you kill Joseph Kony, or arrest him, and make sure he rots in a prison for the rest of his life. Someone will take his place. It is not an issue of stopping one man, or one organization, but an idea.
    A systematic idea of uneducated societies in countries whose goals, ambitions, and thoughts do not exceed that of survival. We must fight these issues with education, with physical involvement, with the building of hospitals and schools, and teachers and doctors willing to travel.

    As far as Joseph Kony. He is an instrument in the use of mass ideals. And removing him doesn’t solve the problem.

    3. You.

    As most of you, I saw this video, and felt something wonderful. A cause, a purpose, and something to investigate. My knowledge of this issue in particular was very little, but as designed, I learned more about it. I have seen the arguments back and forth between people on social networks debating whether this campaign is doing more harm than good. I applaud everyone who is willing to investigate. To become aware. That is the first step to understanding.
    I know many people post things on a whim without understanding or a care for the cause. Some of you protest against a cause, and are relentless to friends and family. Some of you fight for the cause, and do the same.
    Which ever person you have become with social issues, understand that you both are a vital part in the progress of our ever evolving society.
    Each issue of the world needs to be addressed through awareness, and then knowledge.
    We need to hold our governments more accountable for the issues that we focus on, and we need to be more accountable for focusing on issues that should be important.

    Keep thinking.


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