For What It's Worth: My Kony 2012 Response

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Social media is a pretty incredible force. I mean, we all learned about "the invisible hand" in our Econ 101 classes, but now, with the power of social media we can literally SEE that invisible hand. It is swift and powerful.

I first became amazed/really noticed the power of it with the SOPA/PIPPA thing that happened just a few weeks ago. That anti-piracy bill was pretty much SHUT DOWN in a matter of hours thanks to a couple of big websites. As I dilly-daddled about the web, I noticed a lot of warnings like this:

"SOPA/PIPPA will shut down this, and all other websites you love! Write your senator!"

That's it. And all of the sudden, people were writing their senator. An Idaho senator who supported the bill commented that he was getting a lot of response against it, but very few people could tell him WHY they were against it. Perhaps because Google told them so? And I will admit, my trek to figure out what that was all about was not easy. I didn't find the answers I wanted to through a Google search. But once I DID figure it out,  I was surprised to see that BOTH SIDES had really valid arguments. The flip side of the SOPA/PIPPA coin was not what everyone made it out to be. Sure, I still disagree with the bill, but I found that I had to do my own research (including talking over dinner to people I respect about it) to form an opinion I could feel educated about.

Which brings me to this Kony campaign.

First off, I am obviously not pro-Kony. I have done what I can to raise awareness of some of the dark evil in Africa, specifically child soldiers. I had decided to focus one of my English research/speech projects in college on GIRL soldiers and my professor tried to discourage me from the topic since "there's nothing we can do about it." I was furious and gave the presentation anyway. I did not hear about Joseph Kony 3 days ago. You know who else didn't hear about Joseph Kony 3 days ago? The U.S. government. And Uganda.

So, I watched that very well-made 30 minute video by Invisible Children. And I was very moved. I, like so many others, became suddenly determined to figure out what I could do. The Invisible Children charity calls for military action against Joseph Kony. It's easy to agree- hit "share" and have an opinion that aligns with theirs because- hey- they made a really good video and this guy is really REALLY evil and I'm so full of emotion right now I want to do the first thing I can to stop this bad guy.

This is where things get moving very quickly and can get a little out of control. I have 50+ friends who are now suddenly very concerned about Africa (which is awesome) and are SURE that Uganda military action is the way to go. I, however, am not so sure that they know the history of the Uganda militia, the attempts already made to stop Joseph Kony in the past, and the reasons why this whole thing is a lot more complicated than sharing a video on their facebook wall. I am not going to go into those details here, but here is a VERY good article that critically looks at this campaign that I think should go just as viral as the video.

What I'm trying to say here is, with great power comes great responsibility. We have a moral obligation to those around us to be educated, to have compassion, to make informed decisions. To think not with our mind alone and to feel not with our hearts alone. To instead come to know things that are true both with our hearts AND our minds. 

I am happy that Joseph Kony has become a household name overnight. He should not be in the shadows hiding behind innocent babies. I am happy to see so many people really start to care- now let us all have an open discussion with all the facts and perhaps we can come up with a solution.


  1. thanks, carrie! i was overwhelmed yesterday when i logged onto the internet and all of a sudden every. single. person. i followed was a #STOPKONY activist. i don't think the awareness invisible children raises is bad, but there are far better organizations to give money to. awareness only gets you so far. money should be given to organizations who are acting, which i just don't think IC is.

    anyways, do research. know what's up. and then write awesome blog posts like this. ily.

  2. Hi. I'm one of Amber's SIL. I occasionally read your blog (I know, stalker!) Even though I haven't met you. But she's mentioned being good friends with you before and I enjoy the way you write. Anyway...thanks for this post. I just watched the video last night, acted on my emotions and this morning read a couple of the 'other sided' articles and now feel silly for even donating. I agree with everything you say here and have really learned my lesson. I will be very careful when forming an opinion on any subject presented. It really is the responsible thing to do (not to mention smart) to researched both sides before feeling so strongly about a cause. Thanks!
    P.S. don't be alarmed, I'm really not a stalker ;)

  3. Ceci- I have a public blog, so I do not consider you a stalker haha! I'm glad you are here and flattered you are reading! I admire you for being so open with your experience. I too, had a "shouldn't have done that" a-ha moment. I signed a petition for the government to forgive student loans. Sounded good at the moment, but I really regret it. It's moments like these that change how we react in the future. You are awesome.

    And Brandilyn- I 100% agree with you. I kind of think IC has always been an organization getting rich off of college students buying t-shirts and bracelets.

  4. The biggest thing that bothers me about it is the way the video misrepresents the conflict. It seems to be informative but isn't entirely factual. Joseph Kony and the LRA have done terrible things, but many reputable sources have denounced the documentary because of exaggerated facts. That is borderline exploitation if you ask me. The theatrical nature tugs at the heartstrings of the viewer and I honestly felt a little guilty for my gut instinct that something wasn't right. I applaud you for being vocal about your feelings about this. It's nice to hear researched opinions and have educated discussions, especially when it seems like everyone I know is currently tracking the shipment of their campaign swag.

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I love your brains. You articulated a lot of the things I've been thinking as well.

  6. this is awesome. well written.

  7. Carrie!! Thank you for posting this "sound of reason" blog post on the Kony subject. I'm with you - NO clue who the man was until 3 days ago. Here is what one of my friends had as a status update (he's still in college) and why the whole thing caught my attention in the first place:

    "Today I decided to really check out this Kony business everyone's been posting on here and what do you know?.. he's a bad dude. BUT that charity thing "invisible children" is extremely misleading. First, Kony hasn't been in Uganda since 2006...even though the film would lead you to believe otherwise. Second, the organization is in favor of using military action to oppose him and supports the Sudan... people's liberation army which is also accused of rape and looting. Lastly, I looked at their finances (since they're non profit it's public information) and found that only 32% of the money they spend goes towards anyone in Africa. Also, each of the three founders gets an $89,000+ yearly salary, that's taken out of money you donate. Please think twice before purchasing anything from them or even watching the video, each play is money in their pockets."

    The IC is so clearly targeting emotional college students and like you said, there are SO many other org's that help the horrific situations over there. Thank you for the your article! You should follow my yoga blog ;) I going to miss your Mom here at work when I move to TX!

  8. great post, great blog, what can I say?! Thanks for sharing this!

  9. So I am coming on here in response to the comment you left on my blog haha yes... it was a LONG post haha but I am happy to know that you related to it! haha We can be best friends for sure :)


I like to hear all of the beautiful things you have to say.