Daily Archives: 04/23/2012

Kony 2012 Still Has Traction, Somehow

You may be seeing a few Kony 2012 posters up across the city (if they survived the weekend).

I think we can all agree they need a more international poster...

The charity Invisible Children set April 20th as the date for their “Cover The Night” event to spread the word about Joseph Kony and, like clockwork, many posters (some homemade) went up in various neighbourhoods across the city. Others were more ‘creative‘ in expressing their outrage over the Ugandan warlord.

IC’s mission was to make Kony infamous, and encourage the Ugandan government to hunt down the rebel leader, who is accused of kidnapping children to use as soldiers for his resistance army.

But Invisible Children came under fire since launching the campaign for trying to revive a bloody conflict that was no longer ongoing. Kony had stopped kidnapping children, his followers were few in numbers, and the Ugandans were no longer actively pursuing him.

They were the subject of further controversy when one of their founders suffered a mental breakdown and went running through the streets of San Francisco in his underpants.

So, it was with great trepidation and anticipation I waited to see what the weekend would bring. It’s been more than a month since the original video was posted to Youtube. There’s been condemnation and criticism from the Ugandan people, from their Prime Minister, and others. Invisible Children has responded to some of their detractors, but it was clear even the country itself didn’t want their help (or at least not on their terms). So would Invisible Children’s planned day of action actually result in anyone putting up posters?

Apparently, yes. People remembered the date and ignored all criticism of the campaign so they could once again go spread the word about Kony 2012.

There has been a lot of talk about whether this is a ‘slacktivist‘ campaign. Many believed very few would actually show up or put up the posters. And there’s a good reason for doubt, with all the people and groups who have come out and denounced Invisible Children’s methods and message. It’s obvious these people believe in the cause; that’s why they bought or made the posters and put them up. But I’m curious if they watched the video and ignored all criticism of the campaign, or just never bothered to research any further after seeing the ‘documentary’. I may sound cynical, but its important.

Social media activism is still seen by some as people liking a Facebook page and nothing more. You get the ‘good karma’ feelings, while the charity gets nothing. This was a great opportunity to prove social media could be a force for actual good. I understand some people think the work being done by Invisible Children is good, but when you look at what they’re calling for it’s hard to condone or endorse the campaign. And certainly the methods used by their followers are questionable, as is their education on the topic they’re promoting (all perfectly normal signs of a slacktivist movement).

What do you think? Do you see a problem with the Kony 2012 posters going up despite all the controversy surrounding the campaign? Or are you OK with people promoting the cause and expressing themselves despite the questionable goals of the campaign? Let us know in the comments.

-PG

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