But this is the world they will inherit. Whether it’s buying new sneakers, trying a new religion or overthrowing governments, people will try to get them to do stuff. So they need to be prepared.
So I watched the video with my two children. I talked them through how to do a simple Google search about the video’s creator and the organization behind it before they raided their piggy banks. “As we say in journalism, ‘If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out!’ ” I told them.
We talked about what an independent source was and why that makes a difference. Why you should judge information differently if it comes from a company selling you something and not from a government, university or trusted, independent media source. We found that some of the most effective debunking of the Kony 2012 campaign came from nonmainstream independent sources that, in turn, named their sources, which we kept checking out. On and on — in an endless loop. It was exhausting and confusing. At the end of the afternoon, none of us really knew what to think.
Several weeks later, I wanted to see if my children remembered the video and especially the April 20 day of action. My 8-year-old daughter had forgotten the exact date (she guessed May 24), but just remembering the video evoked a lot of emotions.
“Why, Kony?!” she said. “You take people’s kids and make them murder their families. We will never stop remembering you until you go to jail. I hope you hear us, Kony, because it is not OK what you are doing to these kids.”
Did she remember anything about the video’s narrator? No, but she did remember the little kid whose dad was teaching him about Kony. And she remembered the name Jacob, the Ugandan boy who was crying because he lost his brother to Kony’s army.
“He made this video for more people to be inspired to try to give money to hunt this guy down,” she said. “Well, not hunt, but to try to get this guy, and at least go to jail. If you get this bracelet, people can see it and they will want to see the video. All you have to do is tell them about the video, and that will help them.”
She started to ask me why Kony targeted kids. Before I could attempt an answer, she came up with her own.
“Oh. He wants more power, and kids are the only way,” she said.
Indeed. A lot of people seem to be realizing that these days.
Natalie Hopkinson is a contributing editor to The Root. Follow her on Twitter.