In one week, 72 million views on YouTube, 350,000 favorites, the statistics speak for themselves. By now anyone with an internet connection and Facebook account is surely aware of Invisible Children’s latest viral sensation: Kony 2012.
I instinctively was very skeptical of the Kony 2012 Campaign as soon as I began seeing people who usually flood my Facebook news feed with meaningless tidbits about the monotony of everyday life or the newest “it” meme all of the sudden posting about the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Ugandan youth.
Begrudgingly, I finally obliged to watch the 30 minute video; after all, that is all the 40 people sharing the link and Invisible Children were asking for, right?
Through some power skimming, I learned that the idea of Kony 2012 was to turn the leader and man behind the LRA, Joseph Kony, into a household name through the increasingly powerful social media medium. The LRA, by the way, is a paramilitary organization that largely survives by invading villages to abduct children; forcing the boys to become soldiers and using girls as sex slaves.
In essence, the video profiles Jacob, a Ugandan boy who was featured in Invisible Children’s namesake first film and whose brother was killed by the LRA — with cut scenes to a cute blonde child who can point out the “bad man” that makes him “sad,” some footage from the original film, glossy “indie” editing, and lots of white, presumably, charitable people.
What further piqued my interest and disdain for seeing these postings was the fact that I spent the summer and fall of 2009 backpacking through Sub-Saharan Africa; living in many of the villages in rural Uganda and Sudan where the LRA operated. Some of my most poignant and touching moments of the trip were speaking with people in these remote villages outside of Juba or Kampala.