Kony 2012 – does anyone still care?

It’s been just over a month since the KONY 2012 video debuted. This Friday is the planned night of action, where KONY 2012 supporters are meant to “cover the night”, that is, do what they can to “promote justice for Kony” (but not vandalism – that’s lazy and illegal).

Some suggestions from the Kony 2012 website:

  1. Posters and yard signs: start with the posters from your kit (or download them here). While you’re doing your service project get permission from local businesses, organizations, and neighbors to put them in their windows and on their lawns.
  2. Magazine Inserts: download them, print them out, and slip them into magazines and newspapers.
  3. Murals: You don’t have to be an amazing artist. Ask a local business to donate a wall for your team to paint. You can even offer to paint over it in a few weeks
  4. Reverse Graffiti: that’s when you clean a message into a dirty wall. Brilliant.
  5. Astonish Us: We’re talking billboards, crop circles, sky writing, lasers, blimps, and building banners.

Now, this is all well and good. In fact, I’d even argue that the momentum and motivation sparked by the original video might have actually incensed people to participate and “cover the night” (whether or not that would have made a difference). However, it’s been a month and a half. I was actually surprised to see the event reminder on Facebook this week, since I thought it had already happened!The Kony 2012 campaign is no longer just up against critics – it’s up against time, apathy and crisis.

It’s been a month and a half since the campaign debuted. While the initial campaign and video spread like wildfire online, it’s been weeks since the campaign was in the media or since newsfeeds were plastered with the video. The call to action was strong, but, in the weeks since, attention has waned.

What’s more, the campaign capitalized on the uninformed – those who had never heard of Kony, those who were enamoured with the idea of saving the world, even casual Sunday slacktivists. While the gloss and glam of participating in a worldwide campaign to stop a hated war criminal attracted participants like moths to a flame, the fire burning has been squelched during the long wait. Without daily reminders, many of these first-time activists likely forgot all about the cause.

During the video’s break from the spotlight, criticisms against the campaign, Invisible Children and co-founder Jason Russell mounted. Showings of the Kony 2012 video in Uganda sparked outrage from participants, citing lack of actual context. Russell’s meltdown made headlines. The 33-year-old was found nude and masturbating in public, as well as vandalizing cars and appearing to be under the influence. Instead of building momentum towards the night of action weeks away, supporters were instead focused on damage control. For the mostly uninformed volunteer base, these crises likely inspired a change of heart.

So – what will happen on Friday? Will Invisible Children supporters indeed cover the night? My prediction is that the event will be small, if at all attended. Those who participate will be those who deeply believe in the cause and would defend it to the death on researched reason, not the casual, uninformed “activists” initially targeted.Of course, you’ll also see participation from those individuals who jumped on the bandwagon so whole-heartedly that they now need to prove themselves to skeptics.

We’ll have to see what remains when the dust settles on Saturday morning.

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