Yesterday must have been the type of day that sociologists dream of. They now have enough data splashed around the web to surely last a lifetime. By midnight, not only had the video gone viral with frantic Facebook sharing and retweeting. You even had people organising regional events scheduled for a month’s time and ordering campaign kits. Oxford had people volunteering to be Kony college reps, distributing flyers across the university.
But I guess what strikes me the most is the comments left on these event boards. One guy writes:
I’m flying back from my work placement just to attend this!
that day will be my birthday so for me there would be no better way to spend it than by raising awareness for this!
Since then I’ve tried to mock this trend with my own story of sacrifice, and a friend suggests I’m failing to see how high-horsey this is. That is, I use Facebook to share information and opinion about causes I care about all the time. Why assume the outcry here is not sincere and noble?
I’m probably not in the best position to judge this, but it just strikes me that there’s a colossal difference between deconstructing arguments against gay marriage the week my nation goes a little too Christian about the whole thing, and becoming intent on stopping a long-standing African warlord over night. It’s a totally insane contagious bandwagon; an instance of the Nietzschean herd instinct.
I’d be less cynical, perhaps, if the altruistic outpourings from guys skipping birthdays stopped. It’s totally implausible, and it worryingly suggests this is predominantly about recognition of oneself, whether that be conscious or not. Again, you could accuse me of the same thing, and the best I can to do is to beg the question and insist I know the workings of my own mind. If all political concern is really about status-searching, then the unconscious must be even more powerful than Freud could have imagined.
Here, surely, is the test. Do all of those people that posted yesterday go quiet within a week? Do the events scheduled for a month from now succeed in materialising? Or does this whole thing drop as quickly as it rose? Because whilst its collapse wouldn’t necessarily show the concern at the time was not heartfelt and genuine, it would, surely, imply it was somewhat thin. After all, adopting a cause consists of much more than watching a video. And I just doubt the Kony fanatics are catching up on the past two decades of the intricacies of Ugandan politics right now.
Thoughts from others on this one would be much appreciated – both on the Kony phenomenon itself, and the appropriateness of satire.