By Andrew Miller
Stopping Kony isn’t going to change the situation in Africa. I’m tired of checking my newsfeed and seeing the lazy first-worldy approach of watching a clip and suddenly becoming all bleeding heart about an issue. An issue which has been going on for years, and can’t be halted just by bringing down one person. It’s another marketing campaign with the feel-good message that promoting awareness through social media equates to action. Just sign the pledge! Buy the bracelet! Donate now!
“But …” you might say, “… not stoppping Kony also isn’t going to change anything … might as well be passionate about something!” Well actually, promoting support with no understanding isn’t a good idea. What can possibly go wrong when millions of people throw their support behind something that they don’t actually know anything about? And what happens when Kony is gone – his entire militia disbands out of sheer disappointment? Child soldiers are suddenly no longer needed? Do you know this could be used as an excuse for America to maintain a military presence in Africa? That the Ugandan Army itself has been accused of a number of the same crimes as Kony? Do you know that while the charity’s financials were prepared by an independent accountant they didn’t have an audit oversight? Is the socio/political situation in the country really going to suddenly start pooping rainbows and farting cinnamon buns just because we all clicked ‘like’? All this promotes is a shallow and unhelpful understanding of the situation. Reposting this crap to spread the message of a small world after all, without actually understanding anything about it is actually unhelpful. It’s counterproductive. It’s also really irritating.
So sign the pledge, buy the bracelet, do whatever you want. Eventually the time will come when we’ll be called to real action. The en-masse petition-signers currently seem to be inactivist to the point where they won’t even leave their house to go and look at a protest. Compare the enormous numbers online of the Occupy Sydney movement with its meagre turn out in Martin Place. I’m not saying folks should stop informing themselves about criminal atrocities and work towards social change. But sitting in your room signing every petition available doesn’t fix the world. It is a means of awareness, but it’s only a start if you want to actually make any kind of difference to reality. You could drop 50 cents in the Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontièresbucket and maybe help offset a syringe or 500ml of fuel for an aid plane, because KONY2012 is just another charity (albeit with better marketing).
It seems that activism has become lazy simply because we can click a button and ‘change’ something. Change we might see, if only even a small percentage of those who pledge to campaigns on Facebook or other social media would investigate what’s behind it and get actively involved. So get out there to do something, or just shut up for God’s sake, and stop with the faux-caring. It’s worse than just being totally ignorant.
Federation of American Scientists report – U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa:
7 News ‘Stop Kony Charity Concerns’ March 8th, 2012:
Occupy Sydney: Would the Real Occupy Sydney Please Stand Up:
Médecins Sans Frontières
Featured photo: Digital Witness/CC/Flickr