I don’t “like” Jesus on my facebook page and I don’t repost clever religious quips (unless I wrote them 🙂 and here’s why:
Author Neil Postman warned that media (especially social media) trains us to be more and more likely to talk about issues and less and less likely to do anything about them. The KONY 2012 video is the latest (and not the last) example of this. Lots of well meaning people have watched and posted the video and genuinely want to make a difference but don’t let your social media experience fool you. Reposting is not doing something about the issue! It’s still talk.
Invisible Children, the non-profit that produced the video is likely not the best way to make a difference for children who are in danger of being exploited in Africa. If you haven’t read, you will soon hear about all the ways that Invisible Children supports the Ugandan Government’s Army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army who are themselves the targets of accusations of systemic rape and looting. According to their public financial statements Invisible Children only directed 35% of their donation revenue in 2011 toward actual children in Uganda. If you do your homework you’ll find that Invisible Children’s primary purpose is to promote their KONY 2012 campaign to raise American political angst so that the next government will support the use of American Special forces in Uganda. Charity Navigator rates their accountability at 2 out of 4 stars because they lack an external audit committee. See here for Invisible Children’s response to this criticism.
People like “awareness” and don’t get me wrong, awareness is vital. But the important part comes next. Too often nothing follows the awareness.
Social media makes it too easy to be “aware” of something, and be doing nothing. The big problem is that you can be aware of hundreds of issues but only have time to actually be doing something about one or two issues. So you need to be very selective about what you choose to be “aware of”. You owe it to yourself and to God to make very few life-long commitments. The ones you do make, you need to be ready to go to the wall for. Don’t over commit or you risk destroying yourself and dishonouring the causes you care about.
If you really want to get involved in KONY 2012 then go ahead and post it, but you better also be getting the action kit (and if you don’t know what the action kit is then you didn’t watch the whole 27 minutes; another reason not to post the video). Make plans to be part of the day of action on April 20, 2012 but don’t repost the video if you’re just going to repost it and get an emotion buzz off of getting upset about child trafficking and then do nothing.
If the sex trade or child trafficking is something you want to do something about then get connected with these charities:
- American Medical and Research Foundation: Better Health for Africa (http://www.amrefusa.org)
- Africare (http://www.africare.org)
- Children of the Nations (http://www.cotni.org)
- Compassion International (http://www.compassion.ca)
Or if you live in the Niagara Region, volunteer or donate toward the work of Hannah House in Niagara Falls or Elisha House in Welland. It is a biblically based, maternity home that shelters vulnerable adolescent mothers. Teen moms who have been abandoned or alienated by their own families have no where else to live while they are preparing to have a baby. They are alone and pregnant and are at tremendous risk of being exploited by pimps or being abducted themselves.
We need to work against the natural inclination of the social media we use and be very, very selective about the causes we care about, and then we need to be very, very diligent in following through with the commitments we claim to have on our facebook status.