Wednesday’s Got Issues: Kony or Con?

Today, I am one of the almost 10 million people who have watched the Kony2012 video (see below), in which an American based organisation detail their attempts to halt the atrocities committed in Uganda by Joseph Kony and his army, the LRA. It has been widely documented, but not reported by Western media, that they have abducted, raped, murdered or enslaved thousands of people, particularly children, and the Kony2012 people want it to stop. Which is perfectly understandable, the unimaginable horrors committed by Kony and his gang have scarred a generation of Ugandans but received little media attention. I freely admit that until today I had never heard of him or the LRA, and that is my fault for not educating myself better about the world today.

After watching the video, like many others I immediately went to the Kony2012 website and registered my support, then I had a quick look at their merchandise shop – designed to help spread the word through posters, t-shirts and bracelets, among other things – and on an impulse I bought a snazzy looking shirt and one of their bracelets. Don’t ask me why, I plead brainwashing. I don’t generally think of myself as easily led or gullible (but then, no gullible person does), but 5 minutes after hitting the ‘Pay’ button, I was shocked by how quickly I had just spent money, based on a 30 minute video. So I did a little more research on the TRI people (who are behind the movement) and was surprised at how easily I found articles talking about the questionable nature of the organisation, who seem to have created a movement through snappy video editing and an adorable 5 year old who doesn’t understand that there are bad people outside of Star Wars.

Some articles that I found interesting can be found here (there are plenty more to be found via Google):

http://ilto.wordpress.com/2006/11/02/the-visible-problem-with-invisible-children

http://thedailywh.at/2012/03/07/on-kony-2012-2

I want to make it clear that I support the efforts of governments and international organisations who are trying to capture Kony and bring him to justice. But I am wary of a campaign that is light on information and heavy on emotion, I got so caught up in it all that I actually gave them money, and that scares me.

Something else that I find worrying is that, 10 minutes after I placed my order I tried to cancel it by clicking on the links provided on the store website. Every single one led to an error page. Luckily I was able to find a relevant email on another of their websites, and hopefully I will get a refund for my stupidity soon, but I am becoming less and less supportive of a movement whose only goal seems to be to create a world of hipster clones with a cause about which they know very little. I’m glad that I came to my senses, I don’t know why my cynicism alarm didn’t trip sooner. We live and learn.

That’s not to say that I’ll never do anything for charity again, it’s just that I am going to be a little bit more careful in the future and use one of the websites below to verify where my cash ends up.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/

http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/

If you want to make up your own mind, watch the video or click on the link below:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/kony2012/kony_5.html

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