During this time of year many Christians around the world begin to focus their thoughts and alter their daily practices while considering the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. This is done by observing Lent. Last week, most of our attention was re-focused on another man whom a relatively small group of people intend to make famous. The man is Joseph Kony and the medium was our beloved social networks. They seem to have done a good job of making him infamous, which is probably the word that best describes him.
In the first few days, everyone began sharing the video with brief captions explaining why it was so important for all of us to watch and take action. In the following few days, people began to both criticize and defend against criticism; people began taking sides and advocating for all types of responses, well beyond what was suggested by the film’s narrator. The video quickly went from 1 million to 60 million views in only four days. As I post this almost one week later, it’s been watched about 74 million times.
We live in a time that allows for the spread of information and ideas in a way that was not even possible ten years ago. Internet based social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, allow us to keep track of our friends, enemies, acquaintances, musicians, and favorite brands. We show who we are or how we want to be known through what we “like.” A century ago it would have taken us a lifetime to gain the information we can now gather in a day. The newest inventions then were the telephone and the airplane. We had no idea how much they would change the way we live. We are beginning to see what kinds of things can be accomplished now that millions of people can be convinced to act on an idea within a matter of days. Just consider the recent Arab uprisings and the way they have totally altered a region of the world in a relatively short amount of time.
If you’re reading this and you are not familiar with Kony 2012, I want you to know that I am not going to use this post to explain it. You can easily find the video, news coverage, and other related blog posts by doing a quick google search. In a series of posts for the next few days, I’m only hoping to get a conversation started by raising a few key questions. I also won’t use the posts to defend the merits of the movement nor will I explore the valid criticisms. Instead, I want to focus the discussion on some ways that we can think through the implications of the video’s popularity and ways we may engage in local or international issues of injustice when we learn about them. In some cases, we may have to decide that it is better not to act, which can be one of the hardest things for us to accept.
Question #1: What was your immediate reaction to the video when you saw it? What did you think and do?