In class, we discussed the countless positives that have resulted from the rapid use of social media, from the Arab Spring to inside leakage on corrupt regimes. We also, however, mentioned the negatives of social media, which were epitomized by the example of KONY 2012, the viral video produced by Invisible Children that topped 100 million views on YouTube.
The video that called for the arrest and international justice of the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony was criticized on many different accounts: (1) it oversimplified a very complex issue (2) it advertised misleading & some arguably false accounts of the situation (for instance, Kony’s army by then was almost entirely in the DRC (3) it had paternalistic undertones and seemed to breed a new modern type of “trendy” colonialism (4) the organization was asking for funds that for the large part were not going to the cause at hand & (5) it put too much faith in the corrupt Ugandan government. The dangers of social media were beginning to emerge: the information was moving too rapidly for any of the misinformation to be cleared up and for American youth to comprehend that simply sharing a video would not solve the issue at hand and could be considered insulting to the population at hand.
So with all the backlash were there any positive outcomes?
Well, let’s get back to the negatives. There was an outrage from the Ugandan public after viewing the film, many of which went on to throwing rocks at Invisible Children members. The founder of the campaign was so overwhelmed by the criticism that he had a public breakdown (which likely would not have happened if the video hadn’t garnered such mass attention)
However, according to a LA blog (http://goo.gl/JPjUf), the viral video did elicit some of the anticipated outcomes (how much of which was actually the product of the short film is yet to be determined):
Two of the LRA’s top commanders have been removed from the battlefield and more fighters defected from the rebel group last year than in the previous three years combined, according to Invisible Children.
It’s ultimately up for everyone else to decide. Let me know what you think.
Meanwhile, the video that received a lot of attention and equivalent backlash was made into a non-stop online joke about the naivety of the American public.
Here are a few for your entertainment..