I distrust social media for a number of reasons, and while it can be used for good, it is also a terribly manipulative platform.
My social media feeds have been clogged with retweets and shares of the Kony:2012 video. The good people of this planet are outraged and considering the extremely slick production and delivery of the video, its not a surprise. What bothers me, however, is how good people are being manipulated into sharing what is ultimately crude, simplistic American war propaganda.
It is a bit suspicious that this video has surfaced only months after oil has been discovered in Uganda. It is also a bit worrying that Americans are calling on the American government to work with the relatively awful Ugandan government to drive out the LRA. If the Ugandan government were any good, this shouldn’t still be a problem twenty years later. The fact-checking on this video has already been done (references below), but here’s a quick summation of the problems with this video.
1: The LRA is hardly an army anymore
Once upon a terrible time, the LRA was tens of thousands strong, an army begun by a crazy woman and continued by an equally crazy man. Religion and greed mixed (and not for the first time) to precipitate the looting and systamtic plunder and torture of northern Uganda and elsewhere. Now, the LRA is less than 500 members strong and currently in peace talks. There are people who have been working on eliminating the LRA for many years. This video poses the very real danger of undoing that.
2: The video comes from Liberty University
You know those crazy homophobic, evangelist christians? The ones that back Republican election campaigns? Many of them come from Liberty University, home of the Invisible Children project. For more about why this is problematic, read more here. (Anyone remember that Uganda is trying to make it possible to execute people for being gay?)
3. It completely misses the point
Child soldiers are an old issue, something anyone with a mild interest in international affairs would have come across decades ago. There have been groups working to rehabilitate child soldiers for years: their work has gone on unthanked and unnoticed for so long. Maybe they just need a better social media manager.
4. It calls for US intervention
It is really, really not a good idea for America to get involved anywhere. Or China, for that matter. You only need to look at their interest in Sudan’s oil and not its problems to see that.
I know it seems like a terribly humbug thing to do, to tell people to stop sharing this video. But it is a prime example of how good, kind people are being used to further the selfish goals of others. I refuse to be a part of it, and I don’t care if it makes me seem hard and cynical. I will not support American warmongering at the expense of the very real efforts being done by Africans to resolve the situation.
Why You Should Feel Awkward About the ‘Kony2012′ Video – Global Spin
Kony 2012 video screening met with anger in Northern Uganda – The Guardian