Probably one of the biggest fails produced and distributed on the internet of all time and a learning lesson that not all have taken so seriously. This 30 minute video has a whopping 200 million views on YouTube and has countless shares across all social media platforms during its prime, which only lasted about a couple of weeks. The video had gone absolutely viral, and it was an absolute waste of time.
I won’t deny it, I watched the entire thirty minutes of this video when I first saw it pop up in my Facebook feed and did not think it was a waste of time. This viral video had the power to tap into my emotions and make me sad and angry all at the same time all within a half an hour. All the shares that the video had gotten had created a frenzy. People everywhere opened their wallets to the cause and donated money to Invisible Children, the charity that had created the video detailing the horrors of the Ugandan warlord(Cohen). As a highschool student, I remember friends of mine who had begged their parents for money in order to donate to the cause, they even bought KONY 2012 merch from the charity so they could feel like they were aiding these children.
So what was the problem?
As it turned out the charity whose video that everyone was sharing and donating to was actually spending most of its donations on media expansion and keeping the charity alive rather than solve the problem and helping the children. The top management executives and those involved in film production at Invisible Children had been paid huge portions of the revenue gained through donations. Not only that, but he organization has also been accused of spreading messages that are only half truths(Sheets). Many have pointed out that the Kony’s army has been essentially dormant for years and that Kony has been in hiding and is no longer a real threat, things that were left out of the 30 minute film. All things that people didn’t want to talk about or by the time that these facts came out, nobody cared anymore, they were on to the next biggest trend.
And after all of that, internet slacktivism isn’t dead. In the past year I’ve seen an explosion of people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posting videos, articles, and various links about various causes, only to back down once it stopped being trendy. These posts get dozens of comments and replies only for people to forget about it in the next 10 minutes.
What CTW has taught me
While I may have groaned over the amount of time that we spent discussing, reading, and watching all about the food industry, it definitely shaped the way that I have begun to think about issues that affect the world. Awareness is much more than watching one documentary or reading one article about how the fast food system is bad.
After all of our collective research, I’ve learned to be a little more skeptical of what is supposed to be considered natural. I remember reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer in fall quarter and being shocked at almost everything. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for companies in the food industry to lie about the freshness of their food, how much waste was produced and how much resources it takes factory farmers to raise and slaughter livestock, or how dangerous our food system has become for both the consumers and the workers(Foer). While I had seen the movie Food Inc. before, it struck me even more after reading about the horrors of the industry since what Foer was saying was being backed up by professionals and workers in the industry.
Our discussions and readings in class encouraged me to think about something that I previously didn’t give much thought to: dairy. Growing up, I wasn’t much of a dairy consumer. My father is lactose intolerant and dairy wasn’t as much of a part of my diet as it is in the standard American diet. I wasn’t used to incorporating dairy as part of recipes and certainly wasn’t eating the 632 pounds of dairy products that the average American eats each year(“Americans’ ton-a-year Eating Habits: By the Numbers”). As I was researching my topic for my essay I found that while dairy has been touted as a health food for decades, the reason for its continued support was due to private interests. While there are many known alternatives to get the coveted nutrients found in dairy products, dairy has continued to be advertised. There is even a certain stigma amongst those that choose not to give their kids dairy(Planck). The worst part is that while government agencies like the USDA and programs like the National Dairy Council and the American Dairy Association have continued to push dairy products on American consumers, there is mounting evidence that dairy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
There are have been many recent studies that have shown that dairy is actually bad for our health. For example, dairy consumption has been linked to an increased circulation of a growth factor that behaves similarly to insulin. This hormone, IGF-1, binds to receptors in organ tissue and disturbs the cell cycle by stimulating cell production and inhibiting programmed cell death. A study the University of Osnabruck in Germany, shows that high levels of this hormone can be linked to increased risk of cancer(Melnik). All of the research that I found on something as specific as the dairy industry has made me more skeptical and willing to look more into things that have been regarded as safe or even celebrated.
While my interests have certainly gone beyond the dairy industry in the past two quarters of CTW, I have learned to be aware and conscious of things beyond the time of media coverage. Reading Columbine and watching Bowling for Columbine really reinforced this idea for me. In the part about how K-Mart pulled ammunition from their store following pressure from gun control activists and victims of the Columbine tragedy. When I really thought about K-Mart’s reaction, I was almost offended. As if pulling an item off the shelf was going to erase the tragedy that had just happened. The time that I spent in CTW as it allowed me to think beyond the period of reaction in order to assess issues that we as a society are facing.
Although there were times when class got a little awkward, especially in the beginning of the year when nobody wanted to speak up, I’ve appreciated our discussions and am glad that I’ve gotten to spend time and think and read about something that I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up myself
“Americans’ Ton-a-year Eating Habit: By the Numbers.” The Week. The Week, 02 Jan. 2012. Web. 09 June 2015.
Cohen, Noam. “A Video Campaign and the Power of Simplicity.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 June 2015.
Cullen, David. Columbine. New York, NY: Twelve, 2010. Print.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
Melnik, Bodo. “Milk Consumption: Aggravating Factor of Acne and Promoter of Chronic Diseases of Western Societies.” University of Osnabrück. Department of Dermatology, 2 Nov. 2008. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.
Planck, Nina. “Death by Veganism.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 May 2007. Web. 15 Nov. 2014.
Sheets, Connor A. “Don’t Donate To Kony 2012: 5 Reasons To Avoid Invisible Children And Contribute Elsewhere.” International Business Times. International Business Times, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 June 2015.