KONY 2012: Is this really the best way?

March 10, 2012
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Somewhere in Uganda, Joseph Kony, a convicted war criminal, leads the Lord’s Resistance Army against the Ugandan government. His army, which is mostly made up of kidnapped children whose families and neighbors have been killed, has officially been considered a terrorist organization since 9/11, and has been committing countless human rights violations in their war against the government since 1987. Yet I only learned about Kony three days ago.

On Wednesday afternoon, I, like many teens, was on Youtube. As I watched videos about the Egyptian revolution and the Arab Spring, I began to notice a pattern in the comments. “KONY 2012!” One would say. “I support KONY 2012,” read a comment on a completely different video. I thought it was strange, but ultimately ignored the comments. I went on a message board and saw that the thread with the most responses was titled, “A Word on KONY 2012.” I found it strange that it was there, but also ignored it. Then I went on Facebook, where someone had posted the video itself, “KONY 2012.” I was captivated by it. Here was a war criminal, running free in a country in turmoil, kidnapping and forcing children to become child-soldiers. I was ready to support the cause and get all my friends to support awareness about Kony. It would be like citizen journalism: if the cause gets widespread internet support to attract mainstream media attention, enough support will be gathered against Kony to take him down.
For an hour, I gladly saw messages for KONY 2012 pop up on the internet. This began to fade, however, when messages began to appear on videos that had nothing to do with Kony or revolution. I watched as people tried to gain support on music videos of Taylor Swift and America’s Funniest Home Videos, and even found it a bit disrespectful how people were mindlessly spreading the word as I thought back to how I had just ignored those. I began to read the criticisms of KONY 2012, and found myself agreeing with many of these points. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t dispute the fact that Joseph Kony is evil and should be arrested for his crimes, but by the end of the night, I had begun to doubt some of Invisible Children’s methods, the simplicity of the situation in Uganda, and personally despised the redundant comments that were riddling the internet.

It’s been said before, but as much as they’re trying to do the right thing, the resources of the Invisible Children are being mismanaged. As shown by the explosion in web traffic and spread of KONY 2012 and Joseph Kony just from the video: You don’t need posters, wristbands, and pickets, essentially millions of dollars, to let people know about Joseph Kony and raise awareness. As you can see, you can do a lot just by putting up the video on the internet and have it spread through Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. That’s how the internet works. Yet, according to the Visible Children Tumblr page, (taking a critical analysis of KONY 2012) out of the $8 million raised from the organization, only a fraction, not even half went to direct services, while the rest went to the staff, transportation costs, travel, and actually making the video. You can see how much recognition can be gained just from one video. The money should go to actually helping refugees in Uganda, and helping the countless misplaced families back on their feet. KONY 2012 and the Invisible Children organization have a great idea and objective in trying to stop Joseph Kony from ruining anymore lives, but spending millions of dollars that could’ve gone to directly helping Ugandan children and families to gain awareness for Ugandan children and families seems counterintuitive to the cause.

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LucyInTheSky This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm
i agree with everything you and many others are saying, but you don't know how the system at invisible children works. I don't either, but i know that it is very complicated, especially when it comes to money. If they spent all their money directly on transportation and supplies to help Uganda, they would run out. they need to keep trying to raise awareness or they won't get any donations or grants. Sometimes, someone donates a chunk of money and requests it be spent in a certain way. I'm sure t... (more »)
bob bobson said...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 10:42 am
Great article!
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