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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