I distinctly remember sitting at the computer desk in my house in early March of 2012 watching a 30-minute video that I had seen being talked about all over Twitter.
At first I thought it was kind of overrated and I didn’t really want to spend a half hour watching a YouTube video (30 minutes!!! Way too long for my 16 year old attention span), but after my best friend, who was and still is much more critical than I am, tweeted about Kony 2012, I decided to bite the bullet and just watch it. I Tweeted about it too, referring to it as “the most inspiring half hour of my life.”
I remember there being some backlash against the circulation of the video from people my own age that I followed on Twitter. People were saying things like, “Why did you not care about this before?” and, “What can we even do about stopping what’s going on in Uganda?” As Sangita Shresthova points out in the second chapter of By Any Media Necessary, “‘Watch 30 Minute Video on Internet, Become Social Activist’?: Kony 2012, Invisible Children, and the Paradoxes of Participatory Politics,” my peers were not the only critics of the video.
Shresthova quotes TMS Ruge, an activist from Uganda. He called the video “another travesty in shepherd’s clothing befalling [his] country and [his] continent” and said that it was “so devoid of nuance, utility and respect for agency that is so appallingly hard to contextualize” (66).
I know I said that the 30 minute video was a little much for my 16 year old attention span, but the fact that it’s only 30 minutes does a disservice to the issue at hand. There had to have been so many complexities of the situation that weren’t covered, including the effects of colonialism. This detailed and complicated issue that had been going on for years had been reduced to a 30 minute video, and it’s evident that TMS Ruge recognized that.