Before Gangnam Style came along, it was the international viral video everyone was talking about. That's right, Kony 2012, the sometimes praised, sometimes scorned, viral awareness campaign to put an end to African warlord Joseph Kony. On Sunday night, the group behind the video, Invisible Children, released its 30-minute follow-up video and its celebration of social media and millenial activism is bound to drive social media skeptics like Malcolm Gladwell insane.
Opening with a scene of media pundits chiding the millennial generation for being self-obsessed and hopeless, the message of this new video seems to be that all the adults were wrong: The power of tweets, Tumbls, IMs and all those new-fangled communication tools did have a palpable effect in coordinating government action against Kony's Lord's Resistance Army. "Our generation can bring the worst war lord to justice" says an Invisible Children activist. The video cuts to scenes of youths texting, Facebooking and commenting on YouTube.
It's a point that critics like Gladwell, who believe the influence of Twitter and Facebook on social activism is over-stated, would surely dispute, and not without merit. After all, Kony is still at large, most likely central Africa, so despite over 111 million views, it hasn't succeeded. On the other hand, the video did trigger bipartisan action in Congress at a very difficult time to get anything done. So there's room for debate.