Talking KONY 2012

Admittedly dismissive here, but what does true social media activism look like?

A friend of mine just shared some thought-provoking thoughts on the Kony affair that’s raging on Facebook.  Without getting into the issue of “meddling in another states affairs”, from my interests two things stood out for me.

First, is the characterization of the campaign as being an example of unquestionably successful social-media campaigning.  Question: Is success just a matter of a maximum number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’? In terms of sheer volume, Invisible Children’s video has been a success, but this reminds me of the research paper by Navid Hassanpour, graduate student at Yale, that created a lot of debate in the media.  His argument was that social media hinders revolutions. There is no revolution in Uganda or in the West, but its an example of how there’s a growing debate as to whether social media has become as much of an illusion as a tool for genuine activists–is posting a youtube video “being involved” any more than accepting a flyer from NGO workers on the streets in Washington, DC?

Second, is the question, “What we really need to know, as potential donors/activists, is what will IC do to better lives of Ugandans, besides producing movies? Do they have viable and sustainable projects? Are they a bunch of self-righteous egomaniacs that help people just to brag about it? Fighting for a cause is one thing. Having the ability to fight for a cause is another.”  Here I would just say that there is room for more than one type of actor. Especially for an non-profits and non-governmental organizations, which by definition cannot be all encompassing and have to be selective in the means in which they operate, which causes they highlight and which one’s they ignore, etc. That’s just the nature of most issues in this interconnected world.

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