By Gina Jarvis, Editor
Sophomore Mara Hernandez had never heard of Joseph Kony or the Lord’s Resistance Army until she watched a viral video on YouTube, Kony 2012.
The 30-minute video, posted on Mar. 5, has been viewed over 76 million times since it went viral last month.
Kony had been the world’s most wanted criminal since 2005. Six years later, a 30 minute video was uploaded to YouTube. The maker of the video, Jason Russell, explained the importance of increasing awareness in a movement that he and an organization, Invisible Children Incorporated, have created in order to stop the violence.
Kony was indicted in 2005 as the world’s most wanted criminal. Abducting over 30,000 children, he formed a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, according to Invisible Children.
Some critics maintain that the social media has just now brought the awareness about Joseph Kony into the spotlight.
“I knew there was a problem, but I didn’t know of Joseph or the movement until after I watched the video,” Hernandez said. She has recently made a donation towards the movement after watching the documentary. “I think it’s a good thing because so many people have gathered to stop this issue.”
Hernandez is one of the millions who were inspired to help raise awareness after seeing the video on YouTube.
The social media has been a big part in spreading awareness. Junior Michael Kinder, who is involved in Invisible Children Incorporated through his church, said that the makers of the Kony 2012 video have already raised a lot of money and right now are trying to build a communications system in Africa so citizens are able to call in and report locations and whereabouts of the LRA.
According to the United Nations, the LRA has been operating in several units that are difficult to trace. However, over the past three years, the United Nations child protection personnel have worked to assist children who escaped from the LRA. They provide reintegration and rehabilitation programs, including basic care and family reunification efforts.
Russell’s critics say that it’s wrong that it took social media to bring attention to the issue.
“Social media latches on to the big news of the day. It’s unfortunate that Central African states (Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo) have had conflicts and brutal leaders for decades,” Mark Meyer, social science teacher, said. “But since there’s such loose economic and social ties to the developed world, like US, Russia, and Japan, it never really makes front page news.”
“Whether it is something superficial or in deep interests, in the end I think it serves a positive purpose. Raising awareness about it is never a bad thing,” Meyer said. “I guess only time will tell.”