Roughly three weeks ago, Twitter users were bombarded with tweets and hash tags regarding Ugandan guerilla group leader Joseph Kony that read #KONY2012.
For what reason, I’m still not sure.
A 27-minute documentary done by Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children, seeking to build momentum toward thwarting Kony, spawned the #KONY2012 craze.
Last week, Russell stripped naked in his San Diego neighborhood and ran around in a maniacal fashion. He was hospitalized for what he described as “dehydration,” but what his wife described as “reactive psychosis” brought on by his sudden fame.
Fortunately, this charade has not hurt the movement he created.
Kony has abducted, brainwashed and transformed some 66,000 Ugandan children into soldiers and sex slaves, murdered the oldest and youngest of the children, forced children to watch their parents get their hands chopped off and brutalized mothers and daughters — all based on some theocratic delusion based upon the Ten Commandments.
Once the video hit YouTube and people realized what was going on, they grabbed their phones, thinking it would make a difference.
Those who believed this textual Twitter militia would ever reach anyone of authority had a fairytale view of what social media is capable of.
I assume it was a siren song many hoped would encourage the world’s biggest player — namely the United States — to find Kony deep within the jungles of Uganda.
The Obama administration has done everything it can to help catch Kony, and it shouldn’t be expected to do more with such an overwhelming global agenda that includes concern in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Israel.
What has Barack Obama done?
He signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which expanded upon George W.
Bush’s wish to provide logistical and financial support in the African effort to stop Kony.
Four months later, Obama revised his plan for assisting in the capture of Kony and requested more funding.
Nearly a year later, in October of 2011, Obama authorized the shipping of 100 combat-ready American soldiers to central Africa to help with what seemed like a failing effort to find Kony.
The only reason this wasn’t a more notable piece of legislation is because they were ordered to act strictly as intelligence, not soldiers.
Remember, you need to look no further than Vietnam to see that the U.S. has a poor track record with jungle warfare.
Perhaps the notion of tweeting in hopes of lighting a fire under legislatures to do more in Uganda is a product of most tweeters jumping on a cause they don’t fully understand.
Another aspect to remember — Kony is estimated to be only one of hundreds of tyrannical theocrats doing horrible things in Uganda.
But the ease of watching a documentary and then “hash tagging” the title put a spotlight on Kony, and Kony alone.
David Porter, a professor in the YSU Political Science Department and Rigelhaupt Pre-Law Center, said he believes social media is a “double-edged sword” and discussed the vast benefits it has had on the issue of child endangerment in Africa.
“I think the real story here is that there have been people in this country, myself included, who for 20 years have been trying to expose the issue of children soldiers,” Porter said. “All that effort and literally millions of dollars to make it more publically known in the U.S. has eclipsed with YouTube.”
Porter thinks the issue, as a whole, is local.
“The U.S. is relatively powerless to solve this issue unless you want to send 50,000 soldiers and have them open fire on a 14-year-old with an AK,” he said.
YSU senior Anoli Shah disagrees, and said such horrific travesties should be rectified with an American fist.
“The American military is still supreme,” Shah said. “If the U.S. doesn’t step up and help stop this trend in Africa, who will?”
We should all value the impact of social media on international issues that would otherwise go unnoticed by the American populous.
But a half-hour documentary certainly doesn’t make you as informed as you could be, and many people negatively used the social media of Twitter to sensationalize something that the U.S. shouldn’t really get more involved in.
I salute the Obama administration for doing what it could to help Africa, and I will continue to as long as the administration picks its battles the right way.