Kony 2012

There’s nothing I can add to the #Kony2012 debate (discourse? frenzy of liking/tweeting) that hasn’t been said already and said better than I could (importantly: see here and here and just for fun see: here). But, in the interest of not alienating any more of my classmates with my ranting:

The LRA is not an uncomplicated issue. The LRA has largely moved out of Uganda. The LRA is now, more than ever, a regional challenge. Any solution will need to take a holistic view of the problem. I am not entirely sure what Invisible Children wants to accomplish – full-out military intervention? I am also unclear how they intend to rescue abducted children-turned-combatants without injuring/killing anyone but the ‘bad guys’ (i.e. Kony). Or where the proceeds from this advertising campaign will actually go, beyond supporting an organization that seems to view conflict in ‘Africa’ as static (i.e. still talking about night commuters six years after that largely stopped being relevant).

Beyond issues with the Kony2012 campaign, it’s been interesting watching the social networks light up with different points of view. Last night, I counted twenty statuses on my minifeed sharing links to the video and encouraging people to watch. This morning, I counted five statuses saying that maybe we should take a step back and take a more critical examination of this campaign. However, the general consensus seems to be that, regardless of problems with IC or the Kony2012 campaign, “at least we are more aware today than we were yesterday.”

The idea behind awareness-raising campaigns is that awareness is the first step toward action. I think this hugely misses the point. The conceptual goal should not be awareness that there is a ‘problem’ but understanding of the causes, factors, and possible consequences of that problem. Awareness-raising campaigns that distill their message to a selective few talking points which are then re-tweeted ad nauseum are not likely to generate effective policy/action. It is more likely to generate ineffective policy which runs the risk of exacerbating existing conflict. This is the foundation of Do No Harm approach to intervention. Before acting, it is absolutely necessary to consider the potential implications of your actions and whether or not you are equipped to handle them.

We live in exciting times – social media, information-sharing makes it easier than ever before to inform, educate, connect, and work together for shared goals. The individual has more power of expression than at any time in human history. We need to use this power wisely.

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