Do we all remember Kony 2012? In the sphere of Palo Alto High School, Kony 2012 was a 30-minute film that rapidly spread through all mediums of social networking. I got home one night and was immediately bombarded on Facebook by three different friends insisting I watch this “life-changing” video. Unknowingly, I obliged, and after sitting through 30-minutes of treacherous propaganda, I was suddenly in the loop.
I sat on Facebook that night and watched as several of my peers went from selfie-obsessed teenagers to advocates for social justice. Debates sparked and several events along the lines of “Light A Candle Through Which Our Combined Efforts Might Blind Joseph Kony,” or “Let’s Go Around Terrorizing the Neighborhood and Plaster Posters Everywhere So People Know We Care” started to pop up. I am fully willing to admit that I most likely joined one of these quickly appearing events, purely because this uproar of injustice villainized anyone who chose not take a stand or support the cause.
So there’s the set-up: everyone is riled up and ready to travel to Uganda and hunt down the man himself, when a day later news breaks that the heartfelt video was actually a scam. Oops, the heroic film producer who exposed Joseph Kony for who he really was turns out to be crazy with an unexplainable yearning to free himself of clothing and run through the public streets in a frenzy. And with that, the high school social media world suddenly regained its typical form. Comments, pictures, events and discussions of the horrors of the Lord’s Resistance Army and Invisible Children vanished.
Mention Kony 2012 now, and all you can expect to receive is a good laugh, or some sarcastic response. For those of you who are still upset that you wasted $40 on a t-shirt that you’ll never really wear in public without facing endless humiliation, get over it.
However, aside from laughing at the proud owners of Kony 2012 t-shirts, there actually is an underlying message within this 24-hour frenzy of social awareness. Sure, the video oversimplified a much more complex and twisted issue. Sure, it convinced a bunch of teenagers that buying a t-shirt and some posters would eventually lead to the capture of a global villain.
However, this video received over 97 million views on YouTube, and earned the label of the Most Viral Video Ever by TIME Magazine. Content aside, this feat alone is undeniably impressive. And now we’ve finally reached my point.
Look kids, we have the power to make a difference. You’d be hard-pressed to find a teenager who wouldn’t laugh at a Kony joke, and that recognition proves we have power within our fingertips. Consider the implications that this movement could have caused (had it not, of course, been led by a crazed film producer with some questionable acts up his sleeve). Even within the realm of Paly, people immediately stepped forward in support of the injustice they viewed, and felt strongly enough about it to get their friends involved as well.
We are capable of instigating a movement. Granted, we could definitely use a little more training and education in terms of comprehending all the social, political and economical factors involved in any global conflict, so stay in school. Regardless, our capacity as a generation of social networking and interaction is not to be overlooked. And that is what we should really take away from Kony 2012; no t-shirt, no poster, but the reaffirmed belief that our generation is one capable of immense social change. So thanks, Joseph, the lesson is much appreciated.