March marks the one-year anniversary of “Kony 2012,” the viral video about Ugandan militant leader Joseph Kony, was released. The film sparked a massive social media campaign to raise awareness about Kony’s controversial actions through his rebel militia group, which included forced recruitment of child soldiers.
However, one year after the documentary’s release, Kony still has not been arrested despite a massive search conducted by military members from multiple African nations. The term “slacktivism” has been used by critics to describe the “Kony 2012” strategy, where viewers were urged to make one donation or simply share the video through social media outlets.
On reflection, the “Kony 2012” campaign represents the underlying issue of activism in today’s generation. It raises a valid question: Is activism still alive within this generation?
Too often social causes receive attention through social media channels but fail to receive real support beyond the realm of the Internet. The current generation of teenagers and 20-somethings are especially prone to such behavior, as social media has become an integral part of daily life for many in this demographic. However, it appears this generation lacks the drive to initiate actual change.
True social change comes in the form of action, through either military actions like revolutions or intense social movements that leads to public policy changes.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s was successful because its members were actively involved in the cause on a daily basis. Sit-ins, marches, protests and boycotts did not happen organically; it took tremendous efforts from all parties associated with the movement.
While some exceptions still exist, today’s generation does not nearly display the drive or dedication of its predecessors. Though many student organizations at the University of South Dakota fundraise for worthy and admirable causes, much of the activism is delegated to a certain period of time. This isn’t a critique of these events or the effort students give to them; after all, some student activism is better than none.
However, simply hosting an annual fundraiser or spending one day at a local homeless shelter does not result in substantive change. Our generation needs to be willing to sacrifice our time if we really believe in social causes such as the Kony campaign. It means going beyond the realm of Twitter and getting out into communities.
As college students, we always seem to be busy: It can be difficult to find time to commit to a cause on a regular basis.
But enough with excuses. Students could afford to spend as little as one hour per week volunteering in the community or working for an organization promoting social awareness on a humanitarian issue. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what constitutes as activism, not tweeting about the First Lady’s latest hairstyle.