Soapbox – Armchair Activism

 
 

Sick of people pretending they’re political activists from the comfort of their armchairs, Robert Mac Carthy is pretty sure the Kony 2012 movement is as bad as the man himself


It is not often you can include attempting to topple a Ugandan warlord on your list of internet activities, sitting casually amongst your status updates and endless enjoyment of lolcats. The internet is a strange and powerful place, however. Usually just a breeding ground for illiteracy, bigotry and hand cramps, for the vast majority of its users, the internet is just one great big waste of time, gradually dumbing us down and killing us in the most docile way imaginable. That was until a man named Kony came along, and turned it into a political activist’s paradise.
If you who have no idea who Joseph Kony is, it actually begs the question how exactly one manages to breathe while living under such a big rock, because as every man and his dog now knows, Mr. Kony is a Ugandan tyrant more famous than Jesus, Michael Jackson and Newcastle striker Demba Ba combined. He would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids… on the internet.  One impressively glossy viral video has left him more hated than Osama Bin Hitler.
Now, hating a despot who raises a child army is no bad thing, in fact I would go as far to say that it’s probably a good thing. The trouble is though, hating someone doesn’t achieve anything. So sharing a video to raise awareness of an evil man achieves nothing if the only result is hatred. The Kony 2012 internet phenomenon is effectively a load of western people shaking their fists angrily in the air and nothing more. There is no end product. It’s like someone has stolen your lemon tree and all you can do is shout, “Shake harder boy!” It is the most impotent form of activism possible.
The inactivity of liking a video aside, we’re now faced with the twin issues of whether its maker is truly the morally upright institution we had hoped. With rumours of hidden agendas, public indecency and who knows what else plaguing the anti-Kony lobby, one can’t help feeling slightly cheated; emotionally manipulated, even.
It’s not just Ugandan warlords that are used to play on our sense of moral outrage, however. How often have you seen a picture of a mangled dog on Facebook under which you are told to ‘Like and share’ because for every ‘like’, a euro will be donated to the anti-mangled dog trust? That’s emotional blackmail, plain and clear. Besides, if you genuinely have an infinite amount of money to donate to charity, why don’t you just donate it already? Why are you holding back?
At the end of all this only one thing has been achieved: Joseph Kony won’t be getting any friend requests any time soon. Long live the internet.

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