My Thoughts on Kony 2012

I’m going to warn you now – this blog post offers far more questions than answers. That’s because, when it comes to the issues of foreign affairs, policy, war crimes and advocate mobilization, I don’t have many answers. In reality, I might not have any answers at all. But, I do realize that these are important topics and I am trying (with the generous help of Twitter) to educate myself about them.

Today, I awoke to a flurry of Kony 2012 Facebook posts. If you haven’t seen these, you can learn more about the video here. I have to be honest; whenever I see a lot of people on Facebook talking about the same topic I become a little skeptical. Typically, ideas spread quickly on the site because they are compelling, frightening and emotional. These are elements of terrific viral mobility, but they don’t always make for the best education vehicles. As someone who has spent 20 years of my life in school, I can tell you that education can’t always be sexy; and that anything worth knowing or caring about takes hours and hours of research to master.

That said, I appreciate people trying to get involved however they can. This post seeks to make a point about the viral nature of some facts over others. It does not seek to demonize the people who are tying to help. However ill informed we might be.

Instead of re-posting the video to my Facebook page, I turned to Twitter to get some information from resources I’ve grown to trust. You might be rolling your eyes right now, judging me for using Twitter as a source of information. But, like I said, I don’t have any answers on this topic and I knew that people like @DKuzLA and @ryanlinstrom would be able to provide me with more information. And boy was I right.

It turns out that there’s much more to the story (Visible Children and Justice in Conflict illustrate some interesting points). Some people question the video’s focus, others question its motivations, while others point out that the video doesn’t offer a realistic solution. Greater minds than mine don’t know what the answer is, and I will not pretend that my few hors of reading this morning offer even the slightest semblance of a solution. But, I do have a couple of things to offer from this and other experiences:

  1. Don’t trust something just because a lot of people are talking about it. Even if you end up at the same conclusion, it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper.
  2. Don’t let guilt guide your decision to support a cause. One topic I do know something about is marketing and I know that guilt can be a huge motivating factor for people to take action. Do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up for not being a part of every cause.
  3. Don’t let people make you feel bad for not always having the answer. The more I learn – especially about non-profit organizations and their impact in African nations – I realize that a lot of what I thought about effective giving was wrong. But, do I feel bad for believing that one-for-one (like the Tom’s shoes concept) was a good idea at the time? No, not at all. I am proud that I’m educating myself now, but I won’t apologize for what I believed was a good idea. When people are acting from their hearts to help others, that’s a good first step. Period.

I am happy that I saw the Kony 2012 video this morning. It opened my eyes to another topic that I didn’t know much about and, for that, I am grateful. I won’t be posting it to my Facebook page, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be moved to take action in other ways. For today, I will continue to read and converse with people who know more than I do in the hope that some of their passion and knowledge will rub off on me.

So, if you’ve seen the video or read any of the articles, I’d love to know what you think – from one novice to another.

Oh, before I depart, I also want to point you in the way of an activist who has been inspiring me lately – Shanley Knox. I read this post on her blog a few days ago that I thought was a really true look at her experiences as an activist and someone who works in Africa. I find myself enthralled in her writing and her honesty. So, if you’re interested in these topics, you should check her out.

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About Donna Queza

I'm an optimist grounded in realism. That's what I love about working on the web -- the possibilities to be creative and distinctive are endless, but there's always a need for those reality-driven, data-fueld folks who make our dreams into realities. I like to think I hover somewhere in the middle - creative, quantifiable internet marketing solutions.

4 responses to “My Thoughts on Kony 2012”

  1. shanleyknox says :

    Great, great thoughts! What a delightful, balanced perspective! I feel much the same way – greater minds than mine are debating the topic. You also pointed me to some new resources, so thank you for that!

    • Donna Queza says :

      Thanks for your kind comments, Shanley. I’m going to keep reading and being inspired by your work and your writing! 🙂

  2. Ryan Linstrom (@ryanlinstrom) says :

    The more I dive into the links you provided & the links from @shanleyknox and others, the more I realize I can’t possibly say it better than they already have. Simply put, great intentions don’t equal smart solutions, and traveling to Africa doesn’t make you an expert in humanitarian aid, development, or geopolitical conflict.

    I will say, I LOVE that @Invisible is bringing global attention to terrible atrocities.

    However….

    I wish they were more responsible with their reach (i.e. not comparing Kony to Hitler, not misleading naive viewers about the facts on the ground, fabricating a false urgency and demanding action based on their own arbitrary timeline, instead of on a reasonable timeline that empowers Ugandans to take control of their own governance and security for the long haul.)

    I REALLY wish they would use the boatloads of money they receive to support Ugandan NGO’s that are working hard against all odds to build a better society for themselves. Because, at the end of the day UGANDANS are the experts on the problems they face, not some rich white kids from San Diego.

    And yet, in all of this I can’t help but wonder if I’m being too harsh on a group of people who just want to make a difference. Meh.

    • Donna Queza says :

      Ryan, I always appreciate your perspective and the fact that you’re so mindful before you share information. I’m so grateful to Twitter that I’ve had the chance to connect with people like you!

      As for your comment, I totally agree… I love that we’re having this conversation right now, thanks to the Invisible video. But, opening the conversation might be where the usefulness of the video ends and, unfortunately, too few people will not recognize that.

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