Kony 2012 and the Basis Of Online Virality

Kony 2012 has to be one of the most interesting internet phenomenon that I have seen in my social media life. Within a matter of days Invisible Children and the infamous Joseph Kony were transcended from the small time and political, to every Facebook wall in the country and finally all came crashing down in a myriad of controversy. This video along with others show the power that viral campaigning and sympathetic messages can have over a large swath of the population.  In order to understand this power, an in depth look into the Kony2012 video will show us a lot.

“Stop Kony 2012 poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stop_Kony_2012_poster.png#/media/File:Stop_Kony_2012_poster.png

For starters the video comes out in a way that attempts to show that we the people of the modern age have the power to accomplish what we want to do. That is if we come together. From what it seems like at the beginning, the video will only touch upon on the power of social media. Similar to many motivational videos that I see sporadically on Facebook, it would call for people to change the way they think about an issue and then stand up for it. It is only after making the personal connection to a young boy that Kony comes into the picture. I see this move as something that is very deliberately done. This strategy acts as way to bridge the gap between us, in the developed world, and them in the removed developing world. Statistics and numbers could show us the magnitude of the problem but leaves out an emotional connection that will undoubtedly attach us to the problem. Additionally, when the video shows us numbers they do it by showing us people, not an illustration, which is another emotional appeal.

While Kony is a problem for those in East Africa and specifically Uganda, an ultimately too simplistic view is cast. The video gives the viewer this notion that Kony is the largest problem in the country and that in a way he is the dominant figure. Additionally, it makes it seem that these kidnappings and killings are so common that if you go to Uganda you may be remised if you don’t see one. This view is one that is seen as fundamentally false by the New York Times. More recently, Kony has been put into the fringes of the country with his army dwindling and him personally being in hiding. So the dramatization, including children crying, of the problem may help the video become more viral but does not paint a full picture.

So with all the motivation in the early part and the emotional appeals in the middle, the Kony 2012 video

“Invisible Children Official Logo” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Invisible_Children_Official_Logo.jpg#/media/File:Invisible_Children_Official_Logo.jpg

makes the call to action in only a way this generation would be able to. It calls for people to share the video and become part of the group that will raise awareness for Kony. These actions by people don’t just make them viewers anymore, it makes them into produsers in the realm of social media. The issue of Kony is one that is bad and a lot of people have been killed, but it needs to be remembered that with some convincing images and a saddened tone, the wrong organization may be put into the spotlight.

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How Technology is Changing How We Act

It wouldn’t be surprising to say like many people born in this generation Video Games played a big part in my life when I was younger. In elementary school coming home and turning on the PlayStation to play some game with brother was all the release from the “stress” of the day that I needed. As time progressed and I got older, videogames became a social tool that helped me stay in touch with friends all across the globe. So, it does not take me by surprise that video games can act as a useful tool in a variety of aspects.

Things happen fast in Hockey “Ice Hockey sharks ducks” by Elliot – http://www.flickr.com/photos/pointnshoot/1426010816/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons –

For instance Daphne Bavelier in her talk about Your brain on Video Games mentions that gamers have an improved attention. While for me this attention boost does not mean that I can sit in a lecture and be attentive for the entire class period; I certainly have the ability to decipher multiple moving objects from the other more easily than someone who is older and does not play games.  A great example of this may be when I am watching sports with my father. Watching Hockey involves not only tracking 10 players but trying to see a 3 inch puck travel at speeds up to 100 miles an hour. I have asked my dad about a play and we have a noticeable difference in the ability of deciphering what occurred.

Watching sports is not the only difference the digital world and interactive media has on me. Technology has become my aide throughout every activity that I take a part of, from waking up to walking to studying for classes, some screen is there. In that end I can not remember the last time I have gone more than full day without looking at some sort of interactive medium. To that end I echo the statement that the blog on Abha Deshwar promotes, “Leisure time on the Internet is less about pursuing a singular interest than allowing it to be flooded by other, unrelated interests”. My “free” time has become so much less about enjoying myself and has been become about the outside inconsequential world which should remain unconnected to me.

The Time Transcending Medium

Photography might be one of the most powerful methods of storytelling that exists. I guess that’s why the very corny line of “a picture is worth a thousand words” exists. Until very recently, and the advent of digital photo manipulation, a photo was the most definite way to verify the events of an occurrence. The final nature of a photograph leaves an ingrained impression into the mind of the beholder in a much more impactful way then reading some piece of information can.

“Partly disassembled Lumix digital camera” by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA – http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124348109@N01/475694442. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

What was done by Julia Moore with her daughter Emma is a perfect example of how powerful photographs can be. The message of a women can be so much more than a princess or what is generally “accepted” is incredibly powerful and can be done in a variety of ways. An essay or an op-ed written by Moore about her daughter’s foray into looking past typical childhood aspirations could have had an immense impact on how many view gender roles. But I think that instead of going down a road that has been travelled before and attempting to appeal to the masses, Moore was using the power of photography to convey a deeply personal and lasting message to her daughter. These photos have the potential to stay with Emma for an eternity and guide her through her coming of age.

In my opinion, photography is the only medium that could have such a captivating effect on Emma. Photos have the ability to transcend time and capture a moment in the purest fashion. This ability to deliver emotions and feelings in such an effective way is one of the reasons I think humans have a general fascination with the medium and the art form. Thus has led to the popularity of Instagram. Selfies, in general, and the various apps that promote them, are the perfect delivery method for the emotions that photos have. Overall, photography does the job that many mediums cannot and should lead to a bright future for Emma.