By Michelle Eigenheer–
Two months after the Kony 2012 video went viral, the hype has died and Twitter feeds have since calmed down. Why is it that such a seemingly important humanitarian effort only mattered to people for a month or two?
There are a few reasons, the first being that the majority of people are followers, not doers. When a call-to-action video like the one produced by Invisible Children is released and goes viral, a lot of people watch it and want to be involved. However, the majority of these people are not self-starters. They won’t initiate action, and Invisible Children really didn’t offer that much in terms of offering ongoing help. You could share the video and buy the kit – that’s about it. So, of course people forgot about it. Whoever’s doing the PR for Invisible Children must not have really thought in terms of a future.
On top of this is that, while Invisible Children may very well be a heroic effort to reduce world problems, it’s still one of those organizations that survives on the fact that it’s “cool” to be involved with them. Like ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ – a program with a great cause – this organization’s following is greatly made up by kids who want peace in Darfur but can’t point out the country on a map; they just know that it’s what everyone’s talking about. Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate, caring, concerned people in these groups, but they are not the majority. Big campaigns are exciting to this group of followers, but they lose interest quickly as the fad moves on.
It probably doesn’t help the cause that Invisible Children is under some serious scrutiny as to what their funds actually work to achieve. A lot of people are criticizing the organization because they concentrate on making people aware of problems and don’t actually do anything to solve them. Also, viral videos of the founders of the company doing some questionable things came to light after the Kony 2012 campaign launched. One was of co-founder Jason Russell running through the streets of San Diego naked, vandalizing cars, masturbating in public while possibly under the influence of something. (I sure hope he was.) The San Diego police department arrested him, evaluated him and decided that he was in need of some medical aid.
Later, a statement was released by Invisible Children, explaining that he had been suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition and dehydration, triggering his meltdown.
Two weeks after this incident, a video emerged of Invisible Children’s Director of Idea Development, Jedidiah Jenkins, taking swigs from a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and bragging about how the organization had just won a million dollars and, “Here’s $100,000 for Haiti and $900,000 extra for me… Join the bandwagon.” While they later released a statement explaining that it was a “silly and unfortunate joke,” the video does lend some credibility to those who claim that Invisible Children mishandles their money.
Invisible Children may arguably do great things, but their 15 minutes of fame seems to be up. Did you know that they released a sequel to the Kony 2012 video? They did, but a significantly lower number of people seemed to care. The second installation has approximately 86 million fewer views than the original – everyone knows that the sequel is never as good.
Photo courtesy KONY 2012