Kony 2012 And The Explosion In Social Media

Imagine you come upon a child under 10 years old who, along with his friends, is in obvious distress. Now imagine, when you ask that child what you can do to help him, he turns to you and says, with all seriousness, “It is better if you can kill us…”

What in the name of all that is holy could cause a child that young so much stress and fear in his life, that given a choice, he would have you kill him as an act of kindness?

Meet Jacob, the unsuspecting star of Youtube’s most viral video to date (It’s closing in on 50 million views).

Side one:

Through the new social medias (blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.) intercommunication between people representing all nationalities, races, religions etc. has opened up possibilities limited only by our imaginations. The imagination of a young man named Jason Russell has initiated what may be the most ambitious yet potentially controversial experiment involving this emerging application of technology. The goal? To bring down the man who, according to the International Criminal Court in The Hague tops their list of the world’s worst criminals. His name: Joseph Kony. His crime? Abducting thousands of children and forcing them to become soldiers in his rebel army.

For over 20 years, children in central Africa like Jacob have lived in fear of being captured by the Kony’s rebel army. The second goal is to reunite thousands of young children with their parents. The deadline? THIS YEAR. And, although it might sound crazy, they might just pull it off.

The organization behind the video you ware about to see (and who is organizing the project) is called Invisible Children. On the video, in addition to telling Jacob’s dramatic story, they demonstrate how the use of social technologies (like Facebook) can be used to bring an end to  the LRA (“Lord’s Resistance Army”) and Kony’s reign as one of the most sinister human beings to ever disgrace humanity.

Again, I really urge you to make time to watch this video (link is below). And then, although this goes against my usual stand on e-mails, PLEASE forward this to as many of YOUR friends and colleagues you feel comfortable with.

Side 2:

Any undertaking of this type is bound to bring out detractors and naysayers, And Invisible Children is not without their critics. And while it’s good to “vet” any organization, those involving the welfare of the world’s children should be especially monitored.

There have been allegations ranging from dubious finances to questionable marketing tactics.

But as someone who has worked in a non-profit organization in the area of Child Advocacy, I can tell you that kind of smear effort is standard operating procedure, usually initiated by other organizations’ jealousy of your accomplishments and often championed by a young staff writer looking to advance his or her career. at a newspaper or magazine. My advice is to do your own due diligence and decide for yourself.

That said, regardless of how “Kony: 2012″ winds up, it has clearly established yet another example of how powerful the new world of social media networking truly is. Incidentally, the video was recommended to me by our good friend singer Dave Carroll who, himself, demonstrated the power of social media networking several years ago when his United Breaks Guitars (UBG) trilogy of songs helped to define a new era in tools for both consumers and corporations in the area of customer service.

Incidentally, the resulting effect of UBG has directly led to Dave’s involvement in a new web site to help address customer’s gripes and complaints over consumer issues, called GripeVine.

But what of the public’s involvement with the Kony 2012 movement? Some of you know of my time spent working with John Walsh (host of America’s Most Wanted) when his son Adam was abducted and murdered. I spent several years working with him both in Florida and in Boston, helping him to use technology to track, compare and develop Child Protection Legislation on a national basis.

We’ve come light years since then, but my guess is that if you watch this video and then choose to get involved in ANY level, simple or complex, I’m confident you will enjoy a feeling of having been an integral part of something very important and, quite possibly, HISTORICAL in accomplishment. You will understand the feeling of accomplishment that I felt, but in this case, it will be magnified many times over, especially if the goal of capturing Joseph Kony is realized.

Michael Jackson was right, folks. “We ARE the world.” We have the technology. The question is, “Do we have the humanity?”

I’m betting we do.

Gerry Ashley

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One Response to Kony 2012 And The Explosion In Social Media

  1. Gerry Ashley says:

    Please Note: Whenever a project of this type and magnitude is undertaken, there are those who will challenge anyone who is successful. They will challenge the ethics, the honesty, the effectiveness of the program(s) and the character of those involved.

    My position on this is two-fold:

    1.) Chalk some of it up to the jealousy of those unwilling to acknowledge the accomplishments of others… what is sometimes referred to as the Crab Bucket Mentality (rather than encourage one who is succeeding, drag them back down to the same level as yourself).

    2.) Any program, charity, movement etc. SHOULD be run honestly and ethically enough to withstand challenges and questions needing clarification.

    The original (working title) to this article was “Kony 2012: Two Sides To Every Story.” However, I changed it to the current title to reflect the focus being on the use of social media to accomplish in mere days what once took months. I figured I would address the two sides within the body of the story (and I do).

    There are more stories/accusations etc. coming out with the sudden explosion of exposure. That is fine with me, let the cards fall where they will. Jason Russell and Invisible Children will either weather the storm or, if there are inappropriate issues, they will surface. But let’s not yield so quickly to the kind of innuendo some people are repeating like tired talking political points from the right or left. The irony is, there are critics from both sides, pointing fingers at each other.

    However, this morning on the Today Show, Jason Russell was interviewed by Ann Curry. Russell addresses some of the questions popping up. Granted he didn’t go into much detail, but that isn’t because of any attempts to mislead or withhold, it’s merely the limitation of time allocated for a segment. You can watch the interview here: http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Today/96422/2208169472/We%E2%80%99ll-Stop-Kony-This-Year%2C-Filmmaker-Vows/videos?cmpid=FCST_hero_hot

    I urge all to focus on the overall benefit of the program and, perhaps most of all, other possible applications of the Social Media and technologies currently available to all of us. The possibilities are endless for both legitimate and misleading uses.

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