KONY 2012: Awareness and accuracy; Idealism and cynicism

Joseph Kony is an evil man. But are the people who likely made you aware of him in the first place even worse? Over the course of just a few days, the world responded to the message of Invisible Children’s short film, Kony 2012, then shot the very messenger that brought them the news. And by the end of it all, at least one man was naked on a street corner.

It was a unique event.

The video itself was the eleventh by Invisible Children, and even in its short lifespan, the most effective. As of the writing of this post – three weeks after the video’s release – Kony 2012 had been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and Vimeo. MSNBC wrote in greater detail about how the video went viral, while the Chronicle of Philanthropy provided a more philosophical, yet briefer account.

So, Kony 2012 was achieving its goal – to make Joseph Kony famous. There is no denying that the world is now more aware of the man than before the campaign. However, in the process of making Kony famous, Invisible Children too became noteworthy, and when one attracts a certain amount of attention, it is only a matter of time before a critical lens is applied.

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Help Fight the Hunger Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Credit NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams. Amidst continued bickering and brinkmanship in Washington over the billions of dollars we frivolously spend each year, the most-watched evening newscast has managed to consistently devote time to the devastating famine in the Horn of Africa. A video archive, along with a list of organizations in need of donations, can be found on the Nightly website.

It’s a terribly human story. Heartbreaking. And it moves people to action. Except it’s summer – people aren’t as attuned to the news of the day, and donations have been slow to roll in.

I chose to give to two organizations. UNICEF is operating feeding centers and drilling wells on the Somali-Kenyan border. The World Food Programme is using aircraft to reach victims of the famine in isolated portions of Somalia, far from the camps set up by most international aid organizations.

This is no attempt to toot my own horn – it is an endorsement of the operations of these two aid organizations. Donate a few dollars to one if you can.