Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Viral media has formed policy makers' out of the online community.
·         The Kony 2012 project is  sparking a debate on how much collective power, through social networking, can be used to influence or make policy.

Firstly,  it is only the threats posed by the method of the Kony 2012 that  is the danger, obviously not the honourable sentiment.

Objectivity and logic  are the champions of  policy making, but now the emotionally inspired zeitgeist of social networking is playing a bigger part. The argument is not that there is no need for this type of  emotional blackmailing,  policy making should have an overture of humanism. Even so, the choice to go to war should not be for mere  public consumption. This approach may see the beginnings of a slippery and dangerous path to lynch mob-ism. Before this is disregarded as overly cynical and bleak, let me explain.

The danger is that people could be coerced by emotion and not objectivity, by playing to our heartstrings. Out of the 30 million supporters of Kony 2012, did all of them read up on the poor credentials of Invisible Children, or delve any further into the Ugandan situation? Perhaps. But the sheer numbers would cry out that they did not. So here is the risk, the people have been emotionally urged to go on a crusade against evil for reasons unselfish and admirable, but without proper consideration.

The Invisible Children run under the banner of ending war,  yet the campaign is advocating  a kind of war, a war of policing the world. All the while, they help supply the Ugandan military, and pursue a cause that would inevitably  see more military intervention all over the world, and on a moral basis rather than the 'finite' reason of self-protection. As Gordon precluded, it smacks of neo-colonialism, in a  sense  a mandate, based on the idea that the relatively few have a moral authority over the rest.

And if it is a force for good, which I think Invisible Children is, then I think that is brilliant. Nevertheless, the power of viral media may have taken over from TV as the best  controlled indoctrination tool.  The internet audience must be ever self-vigilant and critical of what they experience online, especially if it concerns decisions as significant as going to war. It makes me grumble to think that people need to see the tragic events of  Jacob juxtaposed to a cute kid doing sand angels to appreciate the horrible situation in Uganda

The Invisible Children are false advertising; in reality they are not  anti-war; emotion has betrayed the audience from investigating this. This is not a slant on the Invisible  Children's integrity, I support their noble cause, and hope that Kony is punished. However, if one man's NGO can persuade people to put aside their objectivity , and indirectly and unknowingly insight  war because of emotional propaganda, this is  a danger. "The world is not ruled by reason, but by passion, and when a man is driven to despair he is ready to smash everything  in the vague hope that a better world may arise out of the ruins." Kock-Weser Foreign Affairs Journal.  When a war is for public consumption it can be as temperamental as its people are, if it is for public protection it has some limiting factors, the perceived parameters of self defence.

Whether for good or bad,  the internet has allowed for the privileges once only bestowed on  governments and authority's to decide to go to war, to everyone online. And this everyone can be blinded by emotional propaganda. The Kony 2012 project is a good use of this emotional propaganda, but it could be used for more sinister causes. The people are blinded by emotion in this campaign, this time it is a good thing; but the new collective power of the internet, combined with  good spin doctoring can lead to people putting aside their objectivity and  picking up their pitchforks.  


  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcvjoWOwnn4

  2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/14/the_road_to_hell_is_paved_with_viral_videos_kony_2012