Controversy of the KONY campaign

Managing Editor Jamie Primeau thinks students should branch beyond the computer screen and go make a difference in the surrounding community. (AP Photo)

I didn’t want to watch it.

However, to adequately educate myself, I pressed play and sat there for 30 minutes.

In case you don’t have Facebook or haven’t watched the news lately, a viral video called “KONY 2012” has acquired over 75 million views on YouTube as of Monday night.

It’s been the subject of numerous articles and blog posts, including an Opinions piece in our own paper.

This self-proclaimed “social experiment” by filmmaker Jason Russell promotes his organization Invisible Children, which aims to raise awareness about the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

I will admit a few things: The video is well made and Joseph Kony’s actions are awful. And the word “awful” is an understatement.

But I must say, reposting a video on your Facebook page does not actually accomplish much. If anything, this shows how people can blindly follow propaganda.

While I applaud the recent burst of activism among people our age, and acknowledge that the power of social media does exist, I think this energy should be channeled in a more proactive way.

Posting the video with the message, “OMG! Everyone has to see this!!!” does not end child slavery.

A #StopKony tweet does not speed up the process of the International Criminal Court finding this man who is already number one on their Most Wanted list.

The video tugs at our heartstrings, yes, but reporters and Ugandan citizens alike have questioned its perhaps “over-simplified” portrayal of the country’s complicated history.

According to articles published by The New York Times and NPR, some argue that it does not accurately reflect the reality of Uganda today.

Before hopping on a bandwagon, people should do their research and know what exactly is onboard.

Prior to being taken down from YouTube, Rebecca Black’s music video “Friday” had over 167 million views last year, and since being reposted to the site in September has gained 25 million more.

As evidenced by this example, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s actually good or worth the hype.

KONY 2012 is kind of like a virtual Occupy Movement, in the sense that it shows our society calling for change, but the actual end results of the efforts are questionable and likely intangible.

Can we please turn this spirit, this desire to make a difference, toward more attainable outlets?

Instead of assuming a foreign country needs us, righteous Americans, to come to its rescue, why not look to the surrounding area, somewhere within reach?

Of course, I’m not discouraging people from dreaming big, but it’s unlikely that your 400 Facebook friends are members of the government who can go out and catch Kony right this minute.

Instead, go volunteer in Trenton. There are children outside our campus that could benefit from someone taking an interest in them. Helping tutor or leading an afterschool program can go a long way. Serve dinner to families at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.

If you actively try to make a difference, that’s great. But sharing a link does nothing more than staying on a screen.

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