On April 20, supporters of the campaign to the KONY 2012 campaign will be putting up posters supporting their cause and actively try and get their voice heard to politicians to do something. Being an awful pessimistic cynic, however, I ponder the question – what will happen in 2013? What happens if they are unsuccessful, or successful in their goals?
Let’s be hypothetical and say that in the end – Joseph Kony is arrested somewhere in 2012. Let’s say that the African Union’s plan to send 5000 international troops to the area where the LRA and Joseph Kony are supposed to be located and were able to capture him. If that happens – then Invisible Children will have started a new paradigm of social activism – where an emotive documentary (which distorts facts to suit its purpose) is able to capture the hearts of the young to be more active in politics.
However, in my opinion, this will turn out to be a negative consequence. To be well informed, you have to take all sides of a particular issue and come to some conclusion. Take for instance, the issue of globalisation – it is excellent for us in terms of rapid, instant communication but we have seen that a housing crash could result in a tremendous economic issue in both Europe and in the United States. I’ll let you make your own opinions of globalisation.
(And yes, I am a politics nerd – especially global politics.)
And sadly, not everyone will be reading up on both sides of an issue. A simple Google search, or a link posted on Twitter and Facebook will be enough to satisfy our judgement on an issue. We can look at the very KONY 2012 video highlighting this very example on how fast our judgement has already been made up. It spread quickly from friend to friend to friend – all of them trusting that as if it were gospel.
But, as Foreign Policy noted (among other discrepancies):
It would be great to get rid of Kony. He and his forces have left a path of abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years. But let’s get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.
That’s the beauty of slacktivism. It doesn’t require much – like a video, retweet, donate money and get a T-shirt. It is perfect for a teenager and for an organisation like Invisible Children since it literally mean that you’ll get people committing for a few weeks, just enough to get your cause out there in the media. And they’ll not check it up online, or get the full understanding of fact. Your video is just enough fact for them.
If you think a teenager will read a website like Foreign Policy (unless they are total political nerds who spend every Monday night watching Q&A religiously), then think again. They’re more interested in One Direction, The Vampire Diaries or participating in muscle worship with Jersey Shore-like bodybuilders. Also, on that note, STOP DOING IT! I do not need my Facebook wall flooded with such crap that makes me question your sexuality.
Back on topic, we’ve examined what happens if Kony 2012 succeeds – but what happens if it fails?
I could say that people would feel heartbroken, no longer trusting any charity and simply be cynical to any cause. But that would be a lie.
Most likely, Invisible Children will be pushed out of the spotlight. The Kony issue will no longer be of great importance and everyone will feel indifferent. It no longer becomes a hotbed issue for the youth, unlike same-sex marriage or climate change. This also has a consequence in that, if Joseph Kony is eventually captured, killed or pronounced dead by natural causes, Invisible Children will get little credit or a passing mention.
Invisible Children should be congratulated for making a campaign that brings an issue up in the spotlight. But their rhetoric has put high expectations on itself to deliver – and realistically will not happen within the very short time frame they are trying to push.
On April 20, we will finally see if Invisible Children and the KONY 2012 campaign is sustainable enough to pressure governments. On that day, we will see if it has enough strength it has for the rest of 2012. If not, then all of this is just a moot point – it simply failed to be memorable, unlike other viral content on YouTube.