Monthly Archives: March 2012

My Thoughts on Kony2012 and Internet Slactivism

So I watched Kony2012. It’s almost as if I didn’t have a choice. It’s Kony Kony Kony everywhere on the internets these days that it somehow feels almost rude to ignore all the references. The video had got 53 million YouTube views (in 3 days!) last time I checked, and I’m guessing almost everyone on the Internet and their dog has seen it by now.

So if you are still part of that endangered species who goes ‘huh, Kony?’, you really should watch it.

So what’s my take on all the drama? Frankly, I’m not too sure. One thing I am sure about, though, is that until I have the whole picture, I’m not going to allow a half an hour documentary convince me that the US needs to play world-cop to yet another internal conflict. Not only because US interventions generally prove to have less than desirable, hmm ok, catastrophically disastrous, outcomes, but because I got the feeling that Gavin and his dad are giving us an oversimplified version of the tale tailored to suit their objectives.

This is what I wanted to get out – not jumping to conclusions based on insufficient information. The level of influence that Internet slactivism is having on serious international issues has begun to grow to unhealthy levels, and it is cause for concern.

I wouldn’t be concerned if everybody who watched these videos did so with an open and critical mind. However the reality is that people have knee-jerk reactions to such powerful imagery. Once the first impression has them impassioned and infuriated, they rarely seek to learn the other side of the story, or the half-truths and exaggerations that are part and parcel of media manipulation.

For example, in this scenario Kony is undoubtedly a ginormous douchebag -(getting kids to kill their own parents is probably as screwed up as you can get). However people in the know are saying that the guys fighting him, who we are expected to support, are also douchebags, though of slightly lesser proportions, a fact conveniently left out of Kony2012. The people who made the video are also accused of not handling their finances properly, and being in bed with the lesser douchebags. Example – see Below.

Fighting for Peace with Bazookas

The problem is how many of the 53 million are aware of these facts.

Closer to home, see how similar the situation is to what we lankans faced with the Channel 4 video Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields? That video had enough bias in it to make a Fox News video producer feel inferior. But undoubtedly there would have been thousands who would have formed their opinion on Sri Lanka solely based on that video, and had Channel 4 managed to get it to go viral we would have been in a terrific fix.

The problem here is that people too easily allow their emotions cloud their otherwise good judgement. Folks need to realize this, as the web has made it so much easier to manipulate the emotions of millions. Social media nowadays has an almost frightening level of power, and it’s up for grabs by anyone who is creative and talented enough to touch people’s emotions. It has arguably not been used for dubious causes, yet, but we should be aware that the danger is ever-present of all of us being collectively duped into making a huge mistake.

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