Friday, March 9, 2012

Never Said I was Hero.

All day I've been trying to figure out a blog post in regards to the latest social media explosion. In case you didn't know already, it turns out that there are some people in Africa who do bad things, and exploit children for warfare.

Maybe read this first. I dunno about the rest of that journal...defending property rights? Really?

So I've been thinking about Kony, and the video that brought the whole thing about. I've been cautious about the whole thing because (and this is a topic of another blog post i have planned) of the online culture of what I'm going to call 'Hater Hate'.

Essentially what I'm driving at is the fact that if anyone calls into question the validity of the creators of the video, you are labelled as cynical, cold hearted or, on many cases, a hater. What does it matter, the argument goes, about the creators? Surely it's important that we are talking about Africa, about Kony, about the incredible shitstorm that is child soldiery. Haven't we made a positive step?

Well, no. And for two reasons: firstly, it encourages the culture of 'like', wherein we can alleviate guilt and feel we have achieved something, simply by joinig the facebook group. Hate racists? Sure do! Like! Don't like cruelty to animals? Hate it! Like! Don't like the fact that you only just realised that children are being exploited for war that rage on for decades! No! Like! We can feel as if we are involved in change by this simple action, when really we at best do nothing at all, and at worst we propagate the problem by being under the illusion something is being done. Instead, you can call out your friends for using the word poofter or faggot, you can go vegan, or volunteer for various animal causes, and finally, you could educate yourself on what is going on in Africa. Then take the action you feel is right.

Which leads me to my second point as to why i don't feel the Kony video is a positive step. The creators of invisible children give only a third of total donations to African causes (the rest going to self promotion, quite large personal wages, etc). Not only that but they also supply the Ugandan Government with money, weaponry and other equipment. They support direct military action in Africa to destabilise many of the state's within, and believe the West has a right and a duty to involve itself in many African countries affairs.

This is ignoring the fact that Kony isn't even the worst of the lot. There are countless others like him and, to suggest that removing him (what are gonna do? Kill him?) will create freedom, is a simple misrepresentation by Invisible Children. And that's when they go from naive to sinister.

Social media does have the potential to sway government. Suddenly we have millions of young people clamouring for the head of someone who is without doubt a terrible man. But they know nothing of the the wider picture in Uganda, let alone Africa. It's almost old hat to say that African politics is complicated, but it's true. No one is denying that Kony is a shit head. But his removal, or the support of an organisation that supports a state that is actively trying to massacre its gay population, is not going to make the world a better place. It actually stands to worsen.

Basically, I've said all this in blog form because i know if i say it to someone, they'll rip my head off and accuse me of a cold minded cynicism. It's all very well for me to sit here and wag my finger while genuine human rights violations are occurring as we speak.

I totally agree.

But mindlessly joining the hangmans rabble, with no real knowledge about an issue, other than that provided by an organisation with direct interests in certain political aspirations, must be done with extreme caution.

If not, we stand to lose much, much more than we already have.

Don't take my word for it though, i know fuck all about the situation too. The only difference between me and Joe Facebook is that i know that i don't know. Like a known unknown.

And anyway, the internet tells me it was all just a US government social experiment anyway.

Seriously though, if you care, inform yourself. Then take action.

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