Kony 2012 Shows How Little We Care

Kony 2012 risks becoming a triumph of social networking rather than social consciousness.

On Monday I’d never heard of Joseph Kony. For most of Tuesday too, he was still a mystery. Then, last night a video titled ‘Kony 2012’ started appearing on my newsfeed.

This morning he was inescapable. Facebook and Twitter were filled with Kony’s name. As of writing, there have been over 250,000 tweets mentioning Kony in the past day.

For those who still haven’t seen ‘Kony 2012’, it launches a campaign to put pressure on governments worldwide to find, capture and try Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan guerrilla group who forcibly abduct children to use as child soldiers.


Kony 2012

It’s a powerful film, featuring images of children mutilated by the LRA and a harrowed victim, Jacob, describing his ordeal. Understandably, it has provoked a strong reaction from the online community.

But the success of ‘Kony 2012’ doesn’t mean people care. In fact, it shows how little we care. It took a flashy, social media savvy 30-minute film to make us care. I put my hands up, I didn’t care before seeing the film.

Of course the argument is that Kony has escaped justice precisely because of his low profile. After all, how can we care about the capture of a man we don’t know for crimes we’ve never heard of?

Joseph Kony

But there are many examples of widely publicised war crimes that many don’t seem to care about. Most recently, an article in the Independent described Syrian children huddled in rooms waiting to die at the hands of Assad. We care about the brutality in Homs, but it’s rare to hear of someone you know trying to help.

And why? Because no one has made an engaging video about these problems that makes social networking part of the solution. People don’t care until it’s ‘cool’ to care. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Exploiting people’s desire to fit in for charitable causes is much better than doing it to improve Nike’s image. But it doesn’t show real commitment.

It’s too early to tell whether the ‘Kony 2012’ campaign will really generate the kind of mass action it aims for. Over 14,000 have signed up to the London ‘Cover the Night’ event on Facebook, but that’s no guarantee of actual numbers.

I fear ‘Kony 2012’ will become just another fad, fading fast and leaving only a small core of those who really care. Remember the anti-racism bands that swept the nation in 2005, and the cancer bands that came shortly after? We didn’t cure cancer or eradicate racism, but nobody wears them today.

‘Kony 2012’ risks becoming a triumph of social networking rather than social consciousness.

What’s more, while raising awareness of the issue is commendable, Invisible Children, the charity behind the video, aren’t necessarily the best people to solve the problems.

Several concerns have been raised about the organisation, most seriously that they’re funding the Ugandan army and Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, both of which have been accused of rape and looting.

And while Joseph Kony’s capture would obviously help matters, we should also to kid ourselves into thinking it would ‘solve’ the problems facing East and Central Africa.

Decades of ethnic and religious tensions and competition for so called ‘conflict minerals’ have created much deeper problems in the area. A study last year found that 48 women are raped every hour in Congo. Clearly the country has more problems than just Joseph Kony.

I’m not saying ‘Kony 2012’ isn’t an incredibly worthy film, nor that Joseph Kony’s arrest isn’t a worthy goal, and I think doing something is better than nothing however big the problem.

But if people really care about human suffering I hope they realise that Africa’s problems are more complex than just one evil man and it will take more than just sharing videos online to make a difference.

  • Ricky Alty

    Being a tee-total-er, I think that Koni is a cunt.

  • Chrissy

    Finally, the youth have been targeted in a way they can relate to! We have a huge voice that often goes unheard. Now, we are speaking up and many have an issue with it. Why can’t we see this as a step in the right direction? Rather, cynical individuals feel the need to belittle others efforts to try to shine the light on the cause. No, I don’t think these individuals are “over night activists” but they watched the video, felt inspired, and did what the purpose of the video was: create awareness. Why not encourage youth to continue to have their voices heard instead of belittling their efforts.

  • Courtney
  • Realist

    It is just as well to criticise the campaign, it looks pretty dodgy. But aren't all situations like this? Look at what we're doing in Afghanistan, we have the long term aim of divulging power to the Afghan government and Afghan National Army both of which are highly corrupt. Yet this seems like the only option, we can't indefinitely stay there. Similarly in Uganda, we have to see what the realistic options are. If the only real option is to support this dubious group, then so be it. It's better than standing at the back telling people not to interfere, and then 10 years later when a different set of warlords are in charge whine that nothing is being done to stop this injustice.

  • Before you share
    • lol 9gag

      the cancer of the internet

  • honestly

    even if this campaign fails because of the media's incessant thirst for drama, we won't just go back to ignoring war criminals.
    The film's not about Kony, it's about how all of us young "connected" people have more power than the moneyed would like to think. Even if I dislike what Facebook's done to my social life, I can't ignore how awesome it's made the prospects for a better, more peaceful future

  • Well..

    They have managed to get everyone talking about atrocities in Uganda…

  • Devil's Advocate

    They have answered some of their criticisms if you can be bothered to read:

  • Student

    I still don't care. Why should I?

  • Have you..

    Seen the picture of him, he looks an absolute wrong-en

  • Re to re-rant

    All that sharing is the reason that you actually know about this issue. So many injustices go unnoticed and unpunished, the one single point of this campaign is to raise awareness of the issue so that someone might just do something about it.
    There’s no point saying that “clicking share” doesn’t make a difference because it already has. Stop being cynical and appreciate how amazing the response to this has been. Few of us are in a position to help with our money or time but we were never asked to. All they wanted was for people to know what was going on so that the people who were trying to stop him had some support. AND THEY DID IT! Well done facebook/twitter/etc users, you can go back to your lives now, but you HAVE made a difference.

  • Ty

    The person who made this post quit trying to rebel and troll stfu

  • Kelsey

    I understand that youre saying there are many other bad people or bad crimes out there. But if we dont start somewhere we are never going to stop these people. There has to be a start. Just because they live in another country, there is no need to be selfish and not care about them. This man needs to be made aware of so that people know what is happening in the world, what people are really suffering and to make people more grateful for living in their own country.

  • In other news

    I thought Athletic Bilbao were very good tonight

  • Ranting Cuntabrigian
  • Naivety is…

    …thinking that one problem's solution means that all problems not solved condemn humanity by their existence. Cheer up.

  • I lost my Caius

    Good journalese on the tab? Very good article especially the nike comparison. I am very impress

  • http://s.myniceprofile.com/myspacepic/584/58498.gif Hitler

    Kony killed thousands of people….that's cute.

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