Kony 2012 and the Facebook Generation

Gwenno Hughes (UK, UWCiM 2011-2013)

Thanks to Facebook, the youth of the world are actually showing they care. At least enough to ‘share’ a video that depicts horrors committed by Ugandan Warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony. Of course, I am talking about the campaign of Invisible Children, Kony 2012, which has the sole aim of making Kony famous while encouraging the U.S to send its troops into Uganda. The validity of this Invisible Children has been much debated and much criticized, but I don’t want to talk about that. To be honest, I don’t really care about the campaign; I feel that it is outdated, pointless, and unnecessary based on the recent reports of Kony’s current condition: hiding in the jungle, destitute and powerless. What I do care about is the affect this campaign has had on the youth of the web.

The video, “Kony 2012” (which has become a viral phenomenon) commences by stating that there are more than 845 million users on Facebook. How many of these users do nothing but refresh their homepage waiting for something interesting to come up? How many Facebook users are slaves to their laptops, just click-clicking away? Millions. Even we – UWC students – are unquestionably guilty of this every once in a while. So how to make the youth of today care about something more than what profile picture they should upload? Post it on Facebook. How many of your “friends” have you seen in the last week or month posting “Kony 2012” on their profile? Those profiles of people who you barely know, who usually bombard your homepage with risqué photos and self indulging statuses. Were you as shocked as I was, to see they had posted something that had to do with a global issue? For me this truly shows the effect “Kony 2012” has had on our socialnetworking obsessed generation. It’s the fact that people want to post something that has some depth to it. Perhaps it’s to present themselves as globally aware, or maybe it’s just people who want to appear that they care. Or it could be people who actually care and want to make a difference. But do intentions really matter?

I understand that posting a video isn’t outside the norm – people do it all the time, from videos of Lady Gaga to an (admittedly darling) sneezing panda. Despite this, seeing people posting “Kony 2012,” genuinely gives me faith in our generation. What will our generation be called? The Facebook generation. This seems certain. But what if we become the Facebook generation that tried to take on a Ugandan war criminal? And then what? The Facebook generation that tried to stop world hunger? There are many, many causes out there needing the publicity that Kony2012 has achieved, many causes that need to be recognized. What “Kony 2012” illustrates is how effortless our generation can spread awareness. With modern technology and social networking at our fingertips, any issue can be made global. Despite its triteness, this really is “our” time. With “Kony 2012,” we know what our generation is capable of. But the real question is: what’s next?

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