Guys, I know we usually address lighter fare here at STFUI, like what if Channing Tatum was played by Zach Galifianakis (And if you’re clicking over from that article, thanks. We love you.). I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page about this whole KONY 2012 thing that seems to have exploded during the last few days. Now, when you tell me that Jospeh Kony is an absolutely atrocious human being, I agree with you. Really, he’s just about as disgusting as they come, but if we can get serious here for a moment, talking on the Internet about getting him arrested isn’t really going to do anything. It’s great that we’ve discovered another little cause célèbre, but if all we’re doing is talking about it, it’s going nowhere pretty goddamned fast. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’re all informing ourselves on world events and talking about some of the awful, awful shit we’d otherwise ignore, but that’s really all that’s happening. We’re acknowledging the problem, but no one’s really addressing it.
Celebrities I think are great are tweeting about it, so it must be a big deal!
HEY, THIS JOSEPH KONY GUY IS PRETTY BAD. LET’S STOP HIM. KONY 2012!
Yeah, he is pretty bad. And he’s been pretty bad for over 25 years, too. You know what we’re going to change by talking about him on the Internet? There’s gonna be a spike in Google searches for “KONY 2012” and “Kony” for about, oh, maybe two weeks. That’s about the level of change Internet discourse affects.
HEY MAN, I ‘LIKED’ THAT FACEBOOK VIDEO THOSE GUYS AT INVISIBLE CHILDREN MADE!
Good for you. I ‘liked’ NBC’s Community and look what that got us. Lots of people liking a Facebook post doesn’t really do a whole lot.
AT LEAST PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT IT!
Yeah, that’s a good first step. Now what did we decide we were going to do about it?
WE’RE GONNA KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!
And then what?
WE’RE GONNA KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!
Okay. So the plan is what? We talk about it, and talk about it and maybe donate a few dollars to Invisible Children? Great. And then what?
WHAT DO YOU MEAN “AND THEN WHAT?”? I DID MY PART! I TALKED ABOUT IT!
Oh, fantastic. So, you devoted a few minutes of your life on Facebook or Twitter to saying “Gee whiz, this Kony guy is pretty bad. We should do something about him! Pass it on!” And so did a billion other people. You know what nobody’s going to do? Get out there and take real steps toward fucking changing anything. Yeah, we’re a little more aware of the problem for now, but we live in the developed world, where the motto is “Out of sight, out of mind!”99% of us, myself included, never knew this guy existed until today, and he’s been active for over 25 years. Sitting around and mulling it over on Facebook isn’t doing anything to actually stop the atrocities. KONY 2012, so far, is almost exactly like 2010’s “Change your profile pic to stop child abuse” campaign. Which, if you’ll stop and recall, did somewhere in the neighbourhood of fuck and all to stop child abuse. Changing your display picture to Charizard didn’t do a damn thing to stop kids from getting hurt, just like “liking” a video on Facebook isn’t going to bring down the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony. Yeah, we’re more aware, but awareness only goes so far without action.
BUT HEY, I DON’T SEE YOU GOING OUT AND CHANGING THE WORLD.
Well, no, but I’m not dressing up my inaction as action and pretending I did something significant. Even this blog is just more noise in the ether.
WELL, WHAT’S YOUR SOLUTION?!
Short of hacking the universe and running a “Remove all dickbags” program, I don’t really have one. I’m a blogger (at best), not someone in a position to do anything but tilt at windmills and characterize the Internet as an obnoxious jerk who yells at everyone. Donating directly to organizations in a position to affect change is probably a good place to start. An even better starting point would be contacting your political representatives and telling them why this is an important issue. We’re talking about it, sure, but unless we’re willing to act towards making the change we want, nothing’s going to happen
WHATEVER MAN, THIS IS A MAJOR THING, AND WE’LL NEVER LET IT GO.
Sure. Just like we were never going to let go of Occupy, or Arab Spring, or SOPA or literally any of the other causes that swept the Internet and were promptly forgotten about after we all went “Well, shit. #thisisbad”. Income inequality and fiscal accountability, among Occupy’s other goals, still remain unaddressed; people in the Middle East are still protesting their oppressive governments; and SOPA is almost certainly being resubmitted for approval with a few words changed. All of which are cases where we looked at something happening, thought “This is significant” and then erased it from our minds to go get drunk or watch TV or whatever it is the kids do these days. This is what the Internet does. We take up a cause, champion the shit out of it for about ten minutes, and then forget it ever happened.
And that’s really shitty. I’d love for nothing more than Joseph Kony and all of his lieutenants to be captured and tried for their crimes, but the world’s been pretty apathetic about that whole idea for about 25 years. Two weeks of talking about it on the Internet isn’t going to change anything. Joseph Kony has been wanted internationally since 2005, and the fact that he’s not being actively hunted down by a USA-led coalition of the world’s governments isn’t going to change because Facebook was in an uproar for a few days. The truth is, Joseph Kony doesn’t have anything we want, so he’s not exactly a high priority for a government already involved in something like three wars. If that seems like a shitty thing to say, it kind of is. But that’s the state of Western Civilization. If someone’s actions don’t affect us directly, or they don’t have anything we want, governments feel required to give approximately zero shits about that person’s actions. Even if those actions involve sending thousands of children to fight wars. Out of sight, out of mind, right? The world is full of shitty people and situations, and Facebooking and tweeting about it isn’t going to get corporate-minded governments off their cash bloated asses to do a damn about it. If they even could.
You remember when Saddam was captured, how Iraq became just a haven of free speech, peace and democracy? What’s that, there was a power vacuum and an ongoing conflict that outlasted his execution by five years? Oh, yeah. If there’s one thing we’ve got to remember, it takes a hell of a lot more than arresting one man to make a difference. Even if Joseph Kony were arrested, and tried, and executed, that wouldn’t exactly end the conflict in Uganda, never mind all of Africa. Or the rest of the world. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. That’s assuming by some miracle we don’t stop talking about Joseph Kony next week, and tweeting actually accomplishes something for once. Which it probably won’t. Like I said, it has to go beyond that. Now that we’re all aware of the problem, what are we actually going to do to address it? We can affect change, but it takes more than a tweet or a comment. But hey, by all means, keep tweeting that KONY 2012 hashtag and spreading the video around, if you want. For once, I wouldn’t actually mind being wrong. And hey, at least people are educating themselves, right? It’s a good start, for sure, but direct aid is infinitely more important than advocacy, so if you really believe in the cause, let’s stop talking about it, and start doing something.