So you want to be a good person...

Yeesh. Who feels like a total jerk for not posting videos and comments and hashtags about international criminals?

Yesterday, many in my diverse social media networks urged me to watch a video and post the video and support the cause. None of these activities are explicitly bad. In fact, they are arguably good things that promote awareness about a terrible situation. However, when I watched the video this morning, I couldn't help but notice how little of the story was about a strong and surviving Ugandan boy and how much of the story was about a young American boy. I noticed how much of the story was about what Americans were doing and how little the story was about what Ugandans and other African people groups were doing. I couldn't help but notice that the solution proposed to ending these atrocious crime was militarized support: more guns, more military, more deaths. I had to look away so often that I regret watching it. I don't need more images of guns, violence, and death in my mind's eye.

There are a lot of critical view on the video, on the organization behind the video, and those who are sharing the video. They range from essays that explore the depth of problems with this campaign to humorous and incisive critiques on how we conceive of activism in the social media world. 

I don't want to rain on anyone's desire to do well by their brothers and sisters. That impulse is good, well-intentioned and important. At the same time, I think that it is important for us to think about how deeply complicated these ongoing militarized crises are and how throwing our social media feeds into a frenzy may not actually be accomplishing the faithful work of loving our neighbor.

I am asking myself this morning if I am ready to ask my government to kill in my name to stop killing.
I am asking myself this morning if I am interested in this issue because it is at hand and because everyone else is talking about it.
I am asking myself this morning if I am actually willing to support Ugandan and Congolese efforts, or if I am more interested in fixing it my way.
I am asking myself what real work should be done to reach true peace.
I am asking myself how I can ask my friends, my brothers and sisters, my neighbors to be aware, to be mindful, and to be active in promoting true peace, not more weapons, not more death.


This post was written alongside my fellow synchrobloggers at the Creative Collective on the topic of "A Record Scratch Moment." Read their posts here.


David said...

Invisible Children, the team that made the Kony 2012 video has posted this response to some of the critiques they've seen online. It is sad, but not surprising, that their level of engagement is so much higher than that of the millions of people who watch the video because their friends shared it, then share it themselves without taking the time to really consider what the video advocates.

Nor is it surprising that the activism advocated by Invisible Children seems to be much more nuanced than what the video proposes. The only reason so many people have been open to supporting them is because their message got condensed into a soundbite-ready idea all but divorced from context that belies the complexity of their campaign.

To be clear, though: that campaign does seem to include financing military intervention, and so, like you, I won't be sharing the video or contributing to the cause.

Alaina said...

Thanks for the link, David. It's helpful. I don't want to villanize anyone, just encourage more thoughtful engagement.