It’s been well over a month since Kony 2012 went completely viral. In fact, if you didn’t already know, Kony 2012 is the most viral video in internet history thus far. Whereas it took Rebecca Black’s “Friday” 45 days to reach 100million views, it took Kony 2012 a mere 6 days to reach the same figure. (My apologies for now getting that song stuck in your head for the next 45 days.)
During the days of people quick to jump on the Kony bandwagon, quick to jump off the Kony bandwagon to jump on the criticism bandwagon, quick to jump on the bandwagon of people making fun of Jason Russell, and a whole other range of quick jumping onto various bandwagons, criticisms and defenses flew like wild tater tots in a lunchroom food fight. At my school, we hosted an open discussion forum and I tweeted all the links that were flying at me with various opposing viewpoints in an effort to share all perspectives and offer a chance for us to have constructive conversations about how to best take action. Should we “Cover the Night?” Continue with the flashmob? Celebrate Uganda? Redirect efforts to similar issues in Thailand? Support Kony 2012 however the campaign takes shape?
Disappointingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, few people turned up to the open discussion, and even fewer offered useful ideas for how to move forward with taking action on the issue. It seems, as it often does, that people are quick to point out what is wrong without offering a chance to do something right.
People also have very short attention spans, moving quickly onto the next hot button topic. Where Kony 2012’s original documentary reached over 100 million views in 6 days, their second documentary, Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous, hasn’t even yet reached 2 million views and it’s been up for two weeks.
Thus, it feels like we did exactly what the critics of Kony 2012 said we would do: got really excited about something which we really didn’t know all that much about because there was a really slick video and all our friends were doing it, got bored with it, and moved on with our lives . . . Leaving nothing unchanged and validating the naysayers. “Hah! Look at the ignorant youth with their silly social networking! Good for nothing!”
Which is why I am pleased to say that several stand-out students throughout Bangkok are not amongst these people. During the initial Kony fervor, a dozen or so international school students got together to plan their Kony activities – Cover the Night, organizing a flashmob, spreading awareness, etc. As the criticisms and differing perspectives came out, they examined these and decided to reorganize their campaign into Kony 2012 . . . What about Thailand? focusing on issues of child trafficking right here in Thailand.
Though their Facebook group is significantly smaller in quantity than the original Kony 2012 Thailand group – a mere 400 as opposed to over 3000 members – their focus and determination is admirable. They have continued to meet, research local issues, and are planning action in June, allowing themselves more time to ensure that their campaign will be thorough and thoughtful.
What a wonderful example of people who got involved, cared, and are actually continuing to do something about an issue that they may not have cared about before. Whatever you think of the Kony 2012 campaign and all the surrounding publicity, ask yourself this: What have you done to make our global community a better place? What about you?