By Allison Ashley
“Right now there are more people on Facebook than there were on the planet 200 years ago. Humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and connect. This connection is changing the way the world works.”
–Jason Russell, KONY 2012
On March 5th, 2012, the Invisible Children’s video, “KONY 2012”, went up on YouTube for the first time. Not long after, someone discovered it and put it on Facebook. From there, it went viral. The Invisible Children sign became peoples’ profile pictures, and statuses were put up saying things like, “I leave Facebook for not even two hours and now all this Kony s**** is going around? What’s going on?” A link to the video was then posted as a comment. When I got to school the next day, groups of students were already making plans to hang up posters to spread the word about KONY on the night of April 20th. Each day this video’s views are increasing by the millions. It currently has over 82,700,000 views. It is even said to have set a new record for one of the fastest spreading viral videos on the Internet.
The group Invisible Children made this video to spread awareness to a global audience aiming to make Joseph Kony famous. They want to make him famous not to celebrate him, but to spread the word about the horror he is creating in Uganda and how it is up to us, as young potential activists, to put a stop to it. Over the past 30 years, Kony and his Resistance Army have enslaved more than 30,000 children of Africa and often forced them to kill their parents. The girls have to become sex slaves and the boys become part of the army. Joseph Kony is the most wanted man in the world. The only problem is no one can find him. That’s why Jason Russell, the creator of this video, tells us that it is up to all of us to spread the word about Kony so he can be stopped.
This video first appeared on Facebook hours before an article was written on it for another news site, days before it got any coverage on TV, and weeks before it appeared in newspapers. The average age of the audience watching this video is twenty-four years old. The average age of people connected to Facebook is 38 years old. The average age of Congressmen and Senators currently in the United States is 57 years old. Can the US Senators and Congressmen accurately represent us if they are not connected to this new world of social networking?
There are about twenty one million teenagers in the United States ages fifteen to nineteen, and ninety three percent of those teens go online. They spend time daily on Facebook, Twitter, email, and other social networking sites. About 15 percent of the US population is teenagers. That fifteen percent has little to no voice being heard in this country. We cannot vote, so our thoughts and needs can’t be accurately represented.
Today, an older man who grew up forty years ago is making all decisions that affect us. He doesn’t know what songs are popular, what clothes are trendy, what it is like going to school now, and the decisions we have to make every day that impact our lives. Teenagers get a terrible reputation and are completely misunderstood. We are treated like children but are expected to act like adults. The reason why I think the KONY 2012 video was such a hit for teenagers is because finally we were the ones controlling its destiny. It became famous because WE decided to pass it on. Just because the government wouldn’t approve Jason Russell’s plea to help the African children, he didn’t stop there. Just like he stated in the video, “You don’t choose where and when you are born. But because you are here, you matter.” This video speaks to us as teenagers more than anyone because it reminds us of how those children in Africa that are being captured could have been us. This video gave the teenagers of the world a voice, a voice that many of us have desired to have for a long time.
Not everybody has had the same positive reaction to this video and the process of spreading advocacy through social networking. Some people feel it is an inappropriate way to fundraise. I agree. As much as clicking a link and watching a 30-minute video on Africa does make you feel empowering, it does not make you an activist. But it does make you more educated on the situation that 30 minutes ago you never knew existed. It has led people to talk about it with their family and friends, and soon enough everyone they know has watched the video as well.
No matter who you are, as the inspirational KONY 2012 video teaches, together we can change the world for the better. Every person at every age does have a say, a voice that needs to be heard, ideas that are worth trying, and actions that can make a difference. As Shimon Peres, the President of Israel said, “Forget the past, imagine the future, and think like a 13 year old.”