Unpacking KONY 2012

Unpacking KONY 2012
Ethan Zuckerman

Zuckerman’s blog “Unpacking KONY 2012 “ describes a video and advocacy organization Invisible Children and how the KONY 2012 video worked/failed as a social media advocacy project. When the video first came out every college and high school student reposted it to all of their friends to show their support for the cause. Anyone who tried to ask questions about the campaign, organization, or true situation in Uganda was shut down immediately and hated on for not caring enough about the poor defenseless “invisible” African children.
The truth of the 2012 campaign though, was that it was advertising a problem that was no longer a huge threat, it did not mention the Uganda and American support already out looking for Kony, and it took away the voice of the locals. One of the most important lessons I have learned in International Development, Public Health, and just volunteering in the community is that it is not our job to speak for others. We are not there to tell them what the problems are and how we are going to solve them, but to offer our support and stand with them. The Invisible Children Campaign “gives little to no agency to the Ugandans or the organizations that want to help.” Invisible Children has no Africans on the board of directors and very few on the senior staff.
Our job is not to solve other people’s problems. Our job is to work with others and help empower them. American college students do not know have the answers and this video gives students the message that they were the ones in power, they were the voice of all the “invisible children”.

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One response to “Unpacking KONY 2012

  • Paige Boetefuer

    This is a very harsh description of the Kony 2012 efforts. While there were defiantly aspects of the campaign that can be criticized, I think it is important to look at why the organization chose to propagate their message the way they did. As international development students, we understand the complexities and intricacies of the international issues and how media can oversimplify issues. However, the wide majority of the American and global populations do not have this knowledge. In order to enable social change and get the right people to take action on this cause, it was necessary to simplify the issue so that the general public could understand. This happens with so many development issues. When the Red Cross or another organization seeks out donations for disaster relief, the message to the public is very simple. Images of the worst damage and distraught people are shown on TV to inspire people to support their efforts. However, the details of how they will proceed with disaster relief, what the issues with the disaster relief are, how to overcome limitations, what are best practices, etc aren’t discussed with the public. Rather, the experts take these ideas into consideration while giving the public a simpler version. Transparency and honesty are important, but criticizing an initiative for giving the public a simplified version of the whole story is very common place and usually accepted as pragmatic in our society.

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