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If you’re following social media (or digging deeper in traditional media) you’ve probably come across “Kony 2012” or #stopkony – the campaign’s video has already gotten more than 50 million views since it started 2 weeks ago – although it has gone incredibly viral only the last couple of days as you can see:

Vimeo Stats for Kony 2012 - from 10 views to 50k to 2.7million in 3 days

YouTube shows how viral Kony 2012 went

Ok my analytical geekness caught me here for a second, so back to the topic.

If you haven’t watched the video, watch it. Give it 5 minutes afterwards and come back here with your opinion on it – but be warned: the video is 29minutes long.

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

So what do you think? If you haven’t had the time to watch the video: it’s the central piece of a campaign to make one man famous all over the world. A man called Joseph Kony, known to have abducted at least 30,000 children in Uganda over the last 25 years, turning them into child soldiers amongst other horrible things. Invisible Children is the American NGO behind this campaign and her goal is to create a movement to stop Joseph Kony – in fact the NGO has been operating over the last 9 years.

INVISIBLE CHILDREN USES FILM, CREATIVITY AND SOCIAL ACTION TO END THE USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN JOSEPH KONY’S REBEL WAR AND RESTORE LRA-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICA TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY.

Sounds like a great campaign making use of the power of the social web, doesn’t it?

Well, what if I tell you there’s been an increasing amount of criticism. Criticism on the use and transparency of Invisible Children’s funding. Criticism from local NGOs and people in Uganda. Criticism on the realistic impact of the campaign. Criticism on the hollywood-style documentary that lacks journalistic principles and exploits people’s emotions. Criticism that Joseph Kony is no longer in Uganda at all actually. Criticism that this is yet another naive attempt of white man (Americans trying to gain influence over another country in a colonial style denying the extremely complex situation).

This blog is entirely devoted to highlighting doubt-worthy aspects: http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/
Also the Guardian has set up a continuously updated investigation on the justification of critiques.
Invisible Children themselves have responded to critiques with an open statement here.

So what are we supposed to think and do?

Does raising awareness for a topic that’s not given attention by media justify any method?
Is it ok that the symbol of the campaign is not the largest issue anymore but helps spreading awareness?

But even more so, how do I, how do we as individuals and groups react?
Do you feel a bit insecure what to think now? Well, you’re not alone.

Does it make you a naive person if you just shared the video because it succeeded in appealing to your emotions?
Does it make you a “better” person if you didn’t share it because of all the criticism around it?
How could you have known all this?
Are you suposed to spend hours digging into the background details?
Are you supposed to stop everything you do and go to Africa to make a difference? Would this be courageous, naive or stupid?
Are you supposed to realize you’ll never be able to understand the complexity? Do people only pretend certain things are complex to stop people from asking for, thinking about, or simply putting a solution in place?

To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind yet. There’s never been a clear “black” and “white” scenario in human history but always some grey zone in between. Yet this is exactly what the Kony campaign does: painting it black & white. Kony is the bad guy and if he’s removed all will be good. With the social web spreading ideas, opinions, facts – whether they be true or not – lightning fast, it becomes increasingly difficult to trust. Social proof is meant to establish trust but we know that erring is human. And the grey zone keeps growing.

At the same time, the power to dig really deep into vast amounts of information has never been easier. It’s at your finger tips, a google search away. But will as fast as wrong claims spread, correcting claims spread equally fast? Social has the ability to trigger amazing movements – but at the same time also to manipulate and trigger dangerous group behavior.

So I’m not gonna tell you what you should think about Kony 2012 but I think that there’s –

A new responsibility

Let’s not re-share just because it’s so easy to click, just because everyone is doing it, just because you want to be the 1st one amongst your friends – and most importantly: let’s not re-share stuff we haven’t even read, watched or listened to.

A new responsibility is evolving for everyone making use of the social web.

I agree with Musa Okwanga (born in Uganda) who says: “Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions”.
Don’t stop asking questions.
And I’d like to add: Do something – but reflect on it.

So did you share the video? What did you think of it? What do you think after reading the criticism?

 

Initiated by whom else than Al Gore, starting in about 3hrs from now this will be a reminder going through the whole world with 24 speakers in 24 time zones and 13 languages. Starting in Mexico City and ending in New York City. One entire day dedicated to building awareness and reminding everybody who has fallen asleep that this challenge is as threatening as ever before.

24 hours dedicated to climate change

What can you do?

need some more intro info? watch this video

I guess it’s normal that I’m more touched and emotionally connected to the slaughtering in Norway than to the small headline below that says another 40 protesters shot by Syrian security forces. And then today another headline: I read that 3.7 million people are threatened starving to death. In Somalia local power groups don’t allow food transports to enter the country. I can’t put the numbers into context. 91 people in Norway I can relate to, it’s hard to imagine hundred thousands of humans dying a senseless death. I donate to do something at least. It’s not enough, so I write this little post but I can’t really find good words. So here are the 2 organisations that I hope are trustworthy where I donated. I was out and had a nice dinner yesterday, so I took the same amount. Doctors without borders say it can provide 2 high-energy meals a day for 200 children for an entire month with that money.

What did you spend on food yesterday?

Aerzte ohne Grenzen

Unicef

the links are for the Austrian sub-organisations but I’m sure you can easily find the equivalents in your country: doctors without borders (MSF.org), and Unicef

We’ve once again mastered to survive pre-christmas stress with last-minute shopping, delays while travelling to the beloved ones, the obligatory christmas disputes between family members, the annual once-a-year visit to church, and loads and loads of good food and cookies.

For me that’s always a good time to remember how damn good my life is. I got a little post card from Caritas (the organisation we support for aid projects) that said: “Luck is the only thing doubling when shared”

So here is a very nice way to do something good – fast and easy!

Ute Bock is a truely impressive woman. Aged 68 she offers shelter, home, juridical assistance, and above all humanity to refugees and asylum seekers in Vienna. Currently, she finances already about 60 lodging places.

You cannot anylonger do good by just opening tabs in Chrome (as described in my last post). However, a “like” on Facebook does not require too much energy, either. So here are three possibilities to do smth good – it will cost you 2min time and 2 calories for moving and clicking the mouse. I’d say everybody is capable of that!

For the ones without time: Click here, here and here to become a facebook fan of Billa, CoffeeCircle, and MyGlorious and make them donate.

The details:

Initially, this was only intended to last until the goal of 25,000 fans was reached. However, the cause was extended until 31st December or until 50,000 people would like Billa. Currently 2,714 likes are out, so 2714€ can still be raised. I have to say that I felt a bit strange about this. As I learned about this by a Facebook ad (I hope the cost for these ads is not withdrawn from the donations!), it somehow had a very commercial touch right from the beginning. After all of course, that’s what it is – a marketing campaign that uses a charity cause to gain more facebook fans. To be perfectly honest, I also think that it is not really “cool” to like Billa (my own Hausverstand somehow tells me that).

So for all of you who want to be a fan of something more hip and meaningful than Billa, here are 2 more possibilities:

  • Coffee Circle: this project is per se already worth to have a look at. For each new fan until 24th December, CoffeCircle will donate 24cents – YOU will decide on the organization/project the donations will go to. Like CoffeeCircle here

Coffee Circle is not fairtrade. It is better than fairtrade (besides the often obscure definitions of fairtrade, fairtrade coffee actually often sucks in quality – just google it). Only the best coffee, from Ethopian farmers you can “meet” online, who get a price far above market and fairtrade, plus on top 1€ of every sold kg directly goes to currently three projects that benefit the local communities around the farmers. Make sure you like their fanpage and in case you’re a coffee lover…well, you just discovered your best fuel. (Disclosure: One of the founders is an acquaintance of mine)

Since August, they have been donating 1€ for every new fan. If you want to know where exactly the money goes to, watch this video. Now considering the fact that they are not yet platin selling superstars, how come multi-billion € company Billa donates only just the same amount for every new fan? If you ask me: it’s because the three guys of MyGlorious really care. Actually, they do the same on their website as I try to do here. Great music. Good cause. Like it on Facebook. (Disclosure: I know 2 of the 3 guys)

Do you know of any other facebook fanpages that will make a donation if you like them? Do you oppose such attempts to catch fans or accept it for the good?

That was the idea behind the original project within my circle of friends.

Moreover, in this blog I want to show the many ways of how to make small, effortless contributions to a better future. The web offers many possibilities.

Read more on the original project here and find more ways to do smth good here

https://podio.com