There’s been a lot of talk going around about Joseph Kony and the whole Kony 2012 video online, and of course, the social media response. What I’ve been a part of though, when it comes to discussing the matter, is the controversy behind the social media aspect of this, and it’s particular brand of “activism.” And of course, because it’s me, and I’ve been known to basically have an opinion about everything, I thought I’d give my two cents. (Which we all know is worth, like, 50 X as much… haha)
So the issue, as I have come to understand it, is that people seem to believe that “doing their part” when it comes to combating J.Kony’s immoral, unethical, and downright disgusting actions of kidnapping children for his guerrilla army: the LRA, is to update their status on facebook, or tweet about it on twitter. I agree with the opinion that this is not, and should not be considered activism.
To be an activist, one must be willing to jeopardize social standing, career, basically a general position of neutrality. To be an activist, it means taking a stand against an issue. And to take a stand, it means physically, actively doing something. No, I don’t think changing your Facebook status is activism. I don’t even think me blogging about this is proper activism. If it was, I’d be posting links to sites you can donate to, or places you can search to get more information. I don’t really know what tings to post though, for I myself am still learning about the issue, and finding out surprising facts almost every day.
For example, I used to be supporter of “Invisible Children,” an NGO committed to stopping J. Kony, and was even planning on signing up to help sponsor their campaign; donating money each month from my pathetically small pay check (I really need more shifts at work) And then I discovered, or was told, that Invisible Children isn’t the best of NGO’s for this situation in Uganda.
However! All that aside, I still see the benefit of this social media craze of spreading these atrocities. Although many of these people will end their “activism” after a quick status update, there might be one, or two who will want to learn more. Then, after learning all they can, might actually act.
I’m not sure how I’m going to act upon this Kony situation, to be honest. There’s always donating, but as many now know, the charities that are supposed to be “for the cause” may not be “for ONLY the cause,” and the money sent to them gets squandered by salaries, media expenses and charity functions. We have to be very careful about donating our money, and find out exactly where it will go.
For example, I was at the super market the other day and the cashier asked if I wanted to donate a dollar, “for children.” I saw the little card she had, and that was all it said. There was no organization named, no website or phone number to call to find out more. My giving her my dollar would be like blindly following a crazy religious cult. I’m a University student, and as such my money goes to my ridiculously expensive tuition, and my grocery bill… and rent… and maybe a small percentage on a pint of beer every now and then after those stressful work days.
It’s disheartening that we have to be so careful trusting these organizations. Learning more about World Vision, United Way… well it was upsetting to discover the small percentage of my donation that actually, directly, goes to the people or child I am/was sponsoring. Donating feels great, helps relieve that guilt, but we have to be smart about it. Life is tough, distracting, and time consuming, but we need to keep ourselves informed. That is why I am also okay with the Facebook status updating thing. At least it starts us on that road out of the fog of ignorance.