Digital media can be both a social and political tool in today’s day and age. How many online petitions for social change have you signed? How many global issues have you become aware of due to social media?
Let’s flashback to March 2012; I was in year 11 of high school, and was constantly on the internet — though admittedly nothing much has changed since then. A video popped up on my feed called “KONY 2012”. Intrigued, I watched the 30 minute video and immediately turned to Facebook where the discussion had already began.
People were sharing and commenting like crazy, pledging money to the cause and arguing that when the time came around, no one would actually ‘Cover the Night’ like the video endorses. (KONY 2012) The next day at school, this video campaign was all that anyone was talking about. Come home time, it was all over the afternoon news. By nightfall, Channel 10 was playing the video in their primetime television slot.
The discussion on the issue of child soldiers and the atrocities that Kony was committing lasted for roughly two weeks. (KONY 2012) By the time that April 20th or ‘Cover the Night’ rolled around, barely anyone actually put up posters in their cities. (KONY 2012) It was, for all intent and purposes, a flop of a campaign that once had so much support online.
The campaign might have flopped, but ‘Invisible Children’, the organization behind Kony 2012, made an enormous profit from online activists. (KONY 2012) Invisible Children’s “overall revenue for the year, made up from various sources including the Kony 2012 campaign, was $31.94 million” (News.com.au 2013) Only a portion of this money was spent on helping to stop Kony, as the video said they would. “The company still has $12.6 million of campaign funds” left, as at 2013. (News.com.au 2013)
An incredible amount of money was raised within a few weeks for Invisible Children, only to have not so remarkable results. This brings into question whether the organization had the right intentions or whether it was playing upon the collective conscious of populations into creating a capital money pot.
Thomas Piketty, French economist and author of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” raises some interesting points regarding the spread of wealth across the world and how capitalism isn’t as equal as it is thought out to be. He says that “the rich are still getting richer, and the poor are still getting poorer.” (Ehrenfreund 2015) Piketty continues to say that the only “civilized solution” is “a progressive tax, a global tax, based on the taxation of private property.” (Hussey 2014)
So where does that leave us? Well, as can be seen from the Kony 2012 campaign, although it was extremely successful online, it can be hard to replicate support in a physical space. It also raised a lot of money that was not distributed as the organization promised.
Piketty’s solution to the inequitable spread of wealth is a global tax, which in reality wouldn’t necessarily work as it is the governments that would have to create the laws, and it is the governments and the top 1% of society that would have to pay the most tax.
Ultimately, global movements are becoming more popular due to the use of social and digital media as more people are becoming aware of injustices in the world. It is then a question of whether something can be done about it and action will be taken, or whether people will pledge money only for the campaign to flop only a month and a bit after its creation.
Ehrenfreund, M 2015, It’s not just you: Americans are actually still getting poorer, The Washington Post, Retrieved September 20, 2015, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/03/its-not-just-you-americans-are-actually-still-getting-poorer/>
Hussey, A 2014, Occupy was right: capitalism has failed the world, The Guardian, Retrieved September 16, 2015, <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/13/occupy-right-capitalism-failed-world-french-economist-thomas-piketty>
KONY 2012 2012, video, Invisible Children, March 5, Retrieved: September 20, 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc>
News.com.au 2013, Remember Kony 2012? Well, it’s 2013. What happened?, News.com.au, Retrieved: September 20, 2015, <http://www.news.com.au/world/remember-kony-2012-well-its-2013-what-happened/story-fndir2ev-1226550575923>