Internet is a place where things, strangely unrelated, would go instantly viral. Yesterday was Rebecca Black, and today is KONY 2012.
I admit I have no prior knowledge about who Joeseph Kony was before watching the video, but I do know Africa has a long and complicated history of conflict and turmoil. The human part of the video were very touching, but as an aspiring documentary-maker and journalist, I simply cannot bring myself to accept the way this video is trying to influence the world of social activism. Social activism should be based on informed understanding that arouse sympathy, not propaganda-style rabble-rousing. And the latter is exactly what Jason Russell’s video is all about.
First of all, the video demonized ONE man without providing any context as to why this man is such a demon. It’s calling youth to action more by emotional appeal than by educating them to be more understanding and sensitive to these very complicated international affairs. In fact, it simplified everything to “Joseph Kony Must Be Stopped,” which is very convenient as a tool, but this is not what activism should be. Ironically, the video gave people as much information as Jason Russell did to his 9-year-old son. We, the adults, have more power than a 9-year-old and that is why we need to have a more nuanced understanding of complex issues than a 9-year-old. Calling people to contribute to a cause, especially a controversial one involving armed violence, without educating them in that matter is just like sending soldiers to Iraq to establish democracy without a full understanding of Iraqi history and culture. Both scenarios have good intentions, but good intentions are not enough for social activism.