The minute I saw “Stop Kony” was trending on Twitter, I became a skeptic. My skepticism was because of the overnight uproar a YouTube video caused. My opinions are based off of the ignorance of teenagers I soon witnessed.
Invisible Children recently released a viral video which aimed to make Joseph Kony “famous.” Invisible Children is an organization that specifically uses social media to shed light on the use of child soldiers in Africa. The goal of this particular video was to raise awareness for Joseph Kony’s arrest.
Joseph Kony is the world’s most wanted war criminal; he is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. This is an ethnic group working against the Ugandan government and many members see Joseph Kony as a god. He is responsible for kidnapping over 30,000 children in Africa to be used as soldiers and sex-slaves. Proclaiming himself as “God’s Spokesperson,” Kony encourages his soldiers to rape, kill and mutilate African citizens that don’t share his extreme beliefs.
By making him famous, supporters are raising awareness for his arrest. According to kony2012.com, Invisible Children aims to capture Kony and completely disarm the Lord’s Resistance Army.
However, there is much speculation surrounding Invisible Children’s initiative. It is believed that the LRA’s threat to Africa is not relevant anymore, considering they haven’t been active for years and have lost numerous members.
Another startling fact is that Invisible Children only spends 32% of their 8 million dollar budget for actual programs in Africa. They claim to use film and social media to rebel against the LRA, but where’s the action?
The movement has also taken over social media everywhere. The hashtag “StopKony” has been trending on Twitter since Tuesday, March 5. The YouTube video has also appeared on Facebook because of members attempting to spread the word.
Kordell Draper, junior, said, “I think that a lot of people on Twitter are genuinely dedicated to Stop Kony. But, I also think that lots of people are just tweeting about it to look like they care.”
The movement spread to Leesville’s walls, where someone posted “Kony 2012” posters around the school.
Draper adds, “I’ve been passionate about Invisible Children even before the recent Stop Kony initiative.”
Unfortunately, a week after the epidemic, the rush to Stop Kony has faded away. I thought everyone wanted to make a global change, but maybe as teenagers we don’t have the means or motivation to. Teenagers resorted to simply tweeting, instead of fundraisers or other means of raising awareness. For such a noble cause, I truly wish more was being done to end Kony’s terrorism in Africa.
I just wanted to apologize if my comment came off aggressively. My only goal in commenting was to defend Byrum, which I could have done without the ‘tude. I had no malice in mind while writing…but re-reading it, some parts seem a bit snarky. I’m sorry if I offended you or hurt your feelings. It honestly was not my intention.
I am a former staff writer for the Mycenaean and a current first year at UNC-CH. I worked as a staff writer for the Daily Tar Heel last semester.
I don’t want to start any internet bickering, so I will start by saying I hope to keep the conversation respectful and mature, and I hope you can take it that way.
Despite your obvious offense to Byrum’s post, deeming anyone’s opinion as “basically irrelevant” is far more negative than any point Byrum presented in his comment.
And as a news reporter it’s your job to look at every “side of the story.” I understand your piece was an editorial. I understand you were writing about a very small area, but that does not mean you have to show a blatant disregard, and frankly disrespect, for an opinion differing slightly from your own. Byrum did not negate any of the information you provided regarding Leesville Road High School. He did not tell you that he understood the student body any more clearly than you. He just offered you a more accurate factual knowledge of the organization (Invisible Children) as a whole, as well as some historical information regarding the conflict.
In fact, when I read his comment I didn’t pick up any of the “negativity” you found.
I know you are a young writer, but if you would like to pursue journalism I would suggest an attitude shift toward constructive criticism (not that Byrum actually offered you THAT much).
I hope this does not come off as confrontational or condescending. As a writer, I would suggest taking any comments as a means to improve. It is, after all, “your first year in newspaper.”
Best of luck in your journalistic ventures.
I had no intention of creating a back and forth discussion in the comment section, but was merely wishing to actually “present my perspective.” I do, however, hope that if a quality discussion is to begin, it can be done in a respectful manner.. If you took my comment to be an attack on your article, I apologize. I only wanted to leave my opinions as you had left yours. I felt it to be fair.
Onto the details. Here is the link to the Invisible Children page concerning the history of the LRA and their current whereabouts: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/history.html. And the facts concerning amount spent on programs in Central Africa (37%): http://www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html
You said it yourself in the article, “Invisible Children is an organization that specifically uses social media to shed light…” Invisible Children spends money on creating film. Absolutely. For me, having over 130 million individuals click play to watch a documentary concerning a humanitarian issue validates that. Without the use of film and quality film at that, no one would know about the LRA, a group operating in some of the most remote areas in the world. Film tells the stories that would otherwise never reach the ears of high school students in the United States. For the first time in history, the world is collectively waking up to a conflict in the developing world. I see it as a beautiful thing. And I think that it has only been possible because of film (Only about 7% is spent on films v.s. 37% on programs on the ground). If you disagree, though, you are of course entitled to your own opinion. It is by no means irrelevant.
Lastly, whether or not the “rush to stop Kony” has faded is a matter of perception I think. I initially decided to leave a comment because of several inaccuracies rather than to argue about whether or not the support to bring Joseph Kony to justice has faded away. And obviously you have a different perceptive than I do (still being at Leesville). The increased U.S. support, however, was a direct byproduct of the youth of this nation making know their desire to see this conflict end. U.S. representatives and senators (including NC congressmen) have come out in support of the recently introduced Kony 2012 Resolution. They have acted largely because constituents (most of which are high school students) have asked them to. Many of my friends back home still in school have commented about how cool is has been to see people finally waking up to this conflict and that they have loved seeing the buzz continue on. To see complete paradigm shifts with high school kids. But, again, it is a matter of perception and you have every right (as you mentioned) to express yours.
I hope that I have that right, as well.
As the author of this article I’d really like to thank those of you with positive feedback, considering this is my first year in newspaper. It’s great motivation and extremely humbling to see that people are reading and enjoying my articles.
As for you, Byrum, I’d like to thank you for “presenting your perspective,” despite its apparent negativity.
Firstly, most of my facts were gathered from the invisible children’s website, so I’m doubtful that they’re incorrect. Secondly, I did look at the tax returns and I am unimpressed with the actual amount of money being spent on programs, considering the massive sums that are being put towards videos. And lastly, it’s great to hear that the African and American governments have taken more action. It’s also wonderful that kids in Texas and Louisiana are still involved in the initiative. However, you may have forgotten that I write for the Mycenaean, which is Leesville Road High School’s newspaper. Considering you’re out traveling the earth with invisible children, you may not know as well as I do about the sad efforts being taken to ‘stop kony’ at Leesville. Literally a week after the epidemic hit twitter, no one remembered what they were recently so passionate about. There was absolutely no action taken by those students. I have no right to dispute the support from kids in other parts of the country, which is why I write for Leesville’s newspaper. I am in no way saying that this is not a noble cause, but I am disappointed in my peers, and I have every right to express that. So thank you for your side of the story, but it’s basically irrelevant.
I am actually a recent grad of Leesville and am currently a full-time volunteer with Invisible Children traveling the nation presenting at schools and universities. I guess I will present my perspective of things.
The LRA is actually not based in ethnicity (Joseph Kony is from the Acholi tribe in Uganda, but children currently abducted have no ties to Uganda or the Acholi people) and is not fighting the Ugandan Government at all anymore. While Joseph Kony started in Northern Uganda with the intentions of overthrowing the Ugandan Government, he has since moved into the neighboring countries (D.R. Congo, C.A.R., and South Sudan) and is simply fighting for self-preservation and survival.
The LRA’s threat to Central Africa is still there. While the LRA numbers have certainly significantly decreased (which is of course, a great thing) over the past decade, over 440,000 people are currently displaced from their homes because of LRA violence. Joseph Kony is still out there. Children are still being abducted (lracrisistracker.com). And communities are still being terrorized.
As far as financials go, you can actually go online to view the tax returns and external audits for the past five years for Invisible Children at invisiblechildren.com. And IC spends funds on advocacy/awareness here in the U.S., producing media telling the story, and programs on the ground. I fully believe in this model. Seeing the change in Central Africa, the change in student’s lives here that I meet, and the involvement of the United States government in a humanitarian issue speaks that model. This past year, a little over 37% went specifically to our programs on the ground in Central Africa.
Lastly, I wouldn’t say that the efforts have faded away by any means. In response to the publicity and newfound support worldwide, the African Union deployed 5,000 troops to pursue Kony. This is more than 5 times the number of troops previously attempting to arrest Joseph Kony and his top commanders. Also, the U.S. currently has two widely supported resolutions in the house and senate because of the recent support. The students I meet every day throughout Texas and Louisiana are a testament to the energy and passion for social justice that was partially spiked by this campaign.
I became skeptical the very second I heard about this movement. It’s highly important to know full background information on such things, before spreading and supporting it. Social media is never to be fully trusted.
Fantastic article, and very well done.
Thanks for a nice read, and a great reminder of how the right thing to do may just be a passing trend and an attempt to make oneself feel effective. PS, hi there Mr. Broer
A well thought-out and composed article with very good substance and research. Well done!
Excellent article. Nice to see someone checking their facts and presenting truths. Thanks!