The Viper Vibe
EditorialFriday, April 13, 2012 By Editorial Board
The latest activist trend this year is KONY 2012, and, no, he is not a presidential candidate. A video produced by Jason Russell and his organization, Invisible Children, went viral this March and shed light on Ugandan child abuser, Joseph Kony. The 30 minute YouTube video garnered more than 85 million views, but few understood its message. The website accompanying the video encouraged viewers to donate money or purchase merchandise. Its young viewers believed the fundraiser benefited Invisible Children directly, but its actual purpose was to make Kony famous by getting his name out. The video’s emotional appeal was more than enough to get its audience to purchase KONY 2012 products, all to make a change. The "awareness" campaign has become a reason to raise money. But for what? As of 2011, Invisible Children’s account has raised about $9 million, mostly from personal donations. Almost 25 percent of the donations were spent on travel and production; however, most of the money raised was spent in the U.S. with $1.7 million going toward employee salaries. It appears that people are not knowledgeable of the recipients of their donations, which, in our opinion, is a smart thing to know before actually donating to a cause. College students have been the most active in getting the word out. It is admirable that young people are passionate about a cause and actually go out of their comfort zones to view a different side of the world, but in order to actually take action they must understand what they are doing and why. Due to its viral status, many news organizations all over the world, including England’s ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The New York Times,’ have been investigating the veracity of the Kony video, Invisible Children’s finances and Russell’s role in the whole thing. It is undeniable that Uganda is going through rough times, but it is no longer due to Kony; it is due to its lack of resources and financial scarcity. The thing is, we are focusing on an issue that is no longer occurring. At one point, the issue was severe, but now we are too late. It is over. Joseph Kony has not been seen in Uganda since 2006. The only job remaining is finding Kony, but we the public have no authority or skills to hunt down a criminal. Not everything that seems emotionally appealing is reliable. We understand that humanity has been through delicate periods, like during the Holocaust and with racial discrimination, but just because someone produces a well-made video does not mean it is an actual cause. Students at Varela were among those who shared the video on social networking sites. It was even shown in one of our classes to bring awareness to a problem that even teachers do not seem to understand. Invisible Children is not like United Way, a nonprofit organization in which Miami-Dade County Public Schools take part by collecting money at the beginning of each year. That is what people need to understand. KONY 2012 does not seem like a cause in which we would like to invest. It’s safe to say that none of us will be rooting for KONY 2012 this year.