There is a rabid “revolutionary” epidemic infecting the social media sector of the internet these days, to which, I have no doubt, many – if not all – of you have encountered; Kony 2012. In the course of 48 hours, the American based charity Invisible Children succeeded in causing mass hysteria with their video, which outlines (or rather, attempts to) the plight of Ugandan society. As I sat at my computer, guilty of hitting play on the viral video, situating my mind to absorb the forthcoming 30 minute exposure to a brutality that many of us in the, how does mainstream cultural reference it now, oh yes, “First World Problem” sector, have never known. I saw a face to a familiar name pop up, that of Joseph Kony; the murderous / rapist / sex slavery rebellious leader of the LRA ( Lords Resistance Army.) I fell in line with the rest of the 14 million plus viewers who took in this small documentary in the course of 48 hours; I was angry. I was pumped. Fuck yeah. Let’s get this bastard. Let’s revolt. Let’s string him up for the crimes to which he has forced in barbaric fashion onto unwilling victims for over two decades. Let’s make this man suffer. He is sick. He is evil. He is the devil residing deep in the bowels of the African heartland…
KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.
Then I stopped and wondered; what the fuck? Why am I getting so enraged over a topic to which I have known about, read about, and been an active protester within for many years? This story isn’t news to me, and while this snippet may chime as an arrogant rant from a know-it-all-snob, I don’t bow down in saying that yes, if you’re hearing about Joseph Kony for the first time because of this video, then media and mainstream information has failed. Drastically. But then again, how hard have you, have all of us looked to educate ourselves on global events? How hard have we dedicated ourselves to being apart of a global community outside of Facebook? Outside of Twitter, of Youtube, of Yahoo and Google? How many of us have taken our thought provoking brains to digress outside the realms of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, to wade outside the cultural norms and wade deep into the unknown seas of reality? For that matter; how many of us are actively being a protestor, advocate, or volunteer within our local communities? How many of us are taking notice of provincial, state, national atrocities which are occurring in our own backyards? Oh, that’s right, to concentrate on local inhumanness is to become consumed with those “First World Problems”. How dare we even consider that…
Back to the Kony 2012 debate. Now, while I am fully for the arrest and trial (not blatant murder and execution) of Joseph Kony, I am very much against falling in line with a fashionable protest built by three American men, who, admit, that most of the funding (amassed through donations) does not go back to the charity. And I am not the only one who is choosing to be an independent and disengaged from a trendy take down of the most prolific warlord on the global front today.
From The Globe And Mail article titled Invisible Children and its Kony 2012 Campaign In The Spotlight:
“But the wild success of the campaign has provoked an angry backlash on social media sites and from many Africans, and from scholars who study Africa. They say the campaign is simplistic and manipulative, with deceptive claims, murky finances and a questionable strategy. The U.S. activists are “selling a pack of lies to unaware youth to raise money for themselves,” said Ugandan blogger TMS Ruge in one of a series of critical tweets.
Not a single African is a member of the executive staff or the board of directors of Invisible Children, he noted. Instead, he said, Africans have been relegated to a “sideshow” without a voice in their own story. “Stop treating us like children,” he said. “I refuse to let my voice stay silent as one more NGO continues to perpetuate an expired single story of us.”
Another Ugandan writer, Rosebell Kagumire, said the video campaign “sensationalizes” the issue and makes it all about “America saving us.”
An excerpt from the blog Foreign Policy, award-winning Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama states:
“To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, its portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.
If six years ago children in Uganda would have feared the hell of being part of the LRA, a well documented reality already, today the real invisible children are those suffering from ”Nodding Disease”. Over 4000 children are victims of this incurable debilitating condition. It’s a neurological disease that has baffled world scientists and attacks mainly children from the most war affected districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu.”
So, then, where does an eating disorder advocate come into play on this whole issue? It’s actually in a rather roundabout way, brought to light by this “revolution”. As I promoted my take on the Kony 2012 epidemic on the platform of Facebook yesterday, I quickly came to be the outlet for others frustrations, opinions, and lack luster argumentative blabber. Which is fine, to each their own, we are all entitled to share our opinions, thoughts, and ideas. However, condemning the work I do in the ED community, stating I am a “lazy bitch” who sits at my computer all day “picking apart the positive movements by people in the world, not helping anyone” is rather obnoxious. Then there were the emails that went into more depth, stating (and how they drew these conclusions, are rather hilarious in a brutal candor, is beyond me) that I was the following, for opposing this “positive movement of change”: slut, whore, bitch, fat-cunt, ugly privileged white woman, stupid idiot, hating hipster, self-aggrandizing moron, and the list goes on. Well. Good to know that those out there advocating for the execution of Joseph Kony are open to respectful debate and discussion…how tragic your minds are.
But really what makes me enraged is how closed minded people are in declaring that the EPIDEMIC OF EATING DISORDERS is lumped into this new-age notion of “First World Problems.” It’s disgusting. Vial. Incorrect. Wrong. Horrendous and completely disrespectful to insinuate that those living with, and helping to advocate, educate and irradicate this disorder are simply over privileged North Americans who just like to complain and moan about trivial diet failures…come on. If there has been anything that the Kony 2012 revolution has taught me, it’s that social media has eradicated any hope for individuals to experience, enlighten, and engage themselves in global events, to learn fact from fiction, and to open their minds to the possibility that there is a whole differing story outside the online world of complete celebrity fabrication.
Now, excuse me, I am going to get back to sitting here on my ass, doing nothing. Because hey, that’s what I do here, nothing. My work as an eating disorder advocate, is clearly just one of those dreaded “First World Problems”…