I had first heard about Invisible Children and Joseph Kony when I was a high school student and saw the Invisible Children staff making an appearance on Oprah (yes, I was coming home from school at 16 and watching Oprah). The non-profit Invisible Children was established by three college students traveling through Uganda who saw first hand the experiences of children in Uganda who were afraid of being turned into child soldiers by Joseph Kony and the LRA and would walk miles to try to find places of refuge at night. After seeing this, the students filmed a documentary about what they saw and have then created the non-profit Invisible Children Inc. They have been utilizing social media campaigns along with advocacy events to raise funds to build schools in Uganda and draw attention to the actions of Joseph Kony and the LRA. I remember reading all about them on their website, watching all their documentaries and being completely inspired by their work. Since I have entered college though, life has gotten in the way and I have not thought about Invisible Children and their work much recently.
However, tonight Invisible Children has come front and center into my life again. Facebook and Twitter blew up tonight with #Kony2012 and a link to a YouTube video made by Invisible Children. As of right now, the YouTube video has had over 100,000 hits and celebrities like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Nicole Richie, Kristin Bell and Sophia Bush are posting links to it on Twitter. The video is a call to action for America’s youth, asking them to stand up and speak for the child soldiers in Uganda who cannot speak for themselves. The response is overwhelming to see, and as I write this I feel an incredible optimism and hope deep inside myself that real change can possible occur as a result of social media. Invisible Children is utilizing social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook in an amazing way, gaining attention from youth and having then gain the attention of the celebrities they follow on Twitter. In turn, the celebrities along with the masses speak out about the issue, garnering media attention and hopefully the attention of U.S. policy makers. The reason no one has hear much about Joseph Kony is that the United States has no economic interests in the region, therefore the only benefit to interfering in the region is humanitarian. The hope is that this massive social media campaign will show policy makers that this is important to their constituents and spur action and hopefully the capture of Joseph Kony.
I have seen many online tonight question the motives of the youth tweeting and talking on Facebook about #Kony2012, saying they are only jumping on the bandwagon and paying attention to the issue because it is what is cool at the moment. And to them I say, who cares? If what is cool right now is speaking out about the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and creating a youth reaction to a global issue, then I say fantastic, jump on the band wagon. Do what is cool right now and become informed about an issue that you may have never heard of before, watch #Kony2012.