Do Social Media Campaigns Like Kony 2012 Stunt or Stimulate Real Change?
Read this summary and the questions posed by By Holly Epstein Ojavlo, then go to the Learning Network at The New York Times and tell the world what you think about campaigns like Kony 2012. Do campaigns like these make you more or less likely to delve deeper into issues and take social action?
March 13, 2012, 5:21 AM
Do Social Media Campaigns Like Kony 2012 Stunt or Stimulate Real Change?By HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/do-social-media-campaigns-like-kony-2012-stunt-or-stimulate-real-change/
After Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video went viral, logging more than 70 million views in one week – some experts criticized the campaign, calling it dishonest and even dangerous. Others have suggested that campaigns like these give young people a false sense of accomplishment and discourage real engagement in social issues. What do you think? Have you watched “Kony 2012″? Do you feel like awareness campaigns like this stimulate or stunt real activism among young people?
On the Room for Debate blog, various experts weighed in on the “Kony 2012″ film and phenomenon, in a post called “Fighting War Crimes, Without Leaving the Couch?” The panel included TMS Ruge, a social entrepreneur in Uganda, who had this to say:
The scary part of this campaign is that it raises expectations too high. “If you care enough to send $30 dollars and wear this here bracelet, we will go and get rid of this evil for you. Trust us,” it says. The world isn’t that simple or easy to fix. The campaign missed a huge opportunity to instill agency in Uganda’s civil society, to encourage citizens to act on their own behalf. That would have been hugely transformative. But instead, Ugandans are left wondering, “What is this?”
The takeaway for me is that social media is a powerful tool for flattening the conversational landscape. It is imperative that we don’t hijack the voice and agency of the actors we are trying to help. Instead we should use our social clout to help them realize they have a voice, and we shouldn’t dare assume we know what’s best for them.
Students: Tell us what you think about campaigns like Kony 2012. Have you seen the video? If so, how did it come to your attention, and did you find it compelling? Why do you think it got so much attention? What do you make of the arguments made in Room for Debate? What is the value of raising awareness? Is doing so desirable and effective, or does it oversimplify complex issues and mislead the public about how real change is made? Do campaigns like these make you more or less likely to delve deeper into issues and take social action?
Check out the resources here as well:SARAH KAVANAGH, HOLLY EPSTEIN OJALVO and KATHERINE SCHULTEN