The power of the Internet and online social media never, and I mean never, cease to amaze me. From a video of a triple backflip on a BMX bike going viral to a clip of a panda bear sneezing getting more than 130 million views (and making someone a ton of money), the way information spreads nowadays is just incredible.
Last night as I was scrolling through Twitter feeds I saw a handful of posts that mentioned the word Kony. On Instagram I saw red, white, and blue photos that looked like political posters that included the word Kony. Then on Facebook I saw numerous links to YouTube and Vimeo to some kind of video that had to do with Kony as well. But what was Kony, and why was I one of the last ones to know? I figured it was probably the name of a politician that people were getting behind this election year, and if important enough I’d find out what the hype was sooner or later.
This morning I finally decided to get to the bottom of this Kony phenomenon and watched what is probably one of the most well done and strategically thought out mini-documentaries and viral campaigns ever produced. I’ve been fascinated and captivated by other online marketing efforts before, but this one was a new kind for me—this was one for a greater cause, and something that hit really close to home.
If you aren’t familiar with the details behind the name yet, in short, Joseph Kony is a rebel leader in Uganda that has been committing himself and forcing young, innocent children to commit unspeakable crimes for nearly three decades. He is an evil man and one of the worst criminals in world history.
Filmmaker Jason Russell and the Invisible Children organization created the Kony 2012 documentary as a way to educate the world through online interactions—and it worked. Millions and millions of people over the course of the past few days have been educating themselves by watching the video and giving back to the cause through the simple call to actions the video recommends. It is clear that millions more will follow suit, and the Kony 2012 campaign has only just begun. I can’t help but think that I am watching a completely new kind of history unfold right before my eyes.
Even though there are valid points on the opposition, I support the Kony 2012 campaign and encourage everyone to watch the video below to educate yourself. If you feel moved to do, I would also encourage you to share the video and donate to the cause any way you can.
As many of you may know, I spent some time in East Africa in December 2010 visiting refugees and survivors of genocide, and I came home a changed man with a great feeling of helplessness towards the situations I was exposed to and educated on. I made a few mini-documentaries of my own as a way to help educate people in my circle, so seeing an organization like Invisible Children and a campaign like Kony 2012 is nothing short inspiring.
Here are the videos I made after traveling in Rwanda and Burundi, then through Uganda to Kenya.