Kony Who? We Have Midterms

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Students at Brooklyn College seemed unfazed by the Kony 2012 video released earlier in the week (Scott Eidler/The Brooklyn Ink)


As a cacophony of Tweets, Facebook posts, and online comments surrounding a video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony grows louder, some college students in Brooklyn can’t seem to be bothered.

On a sunny Friday afternoon on Brooklyn College’s quad, students appeared unfazed by the global reaction to the video. No one seemed to be talking about it; no posters were visible at the student center. Some students didn’t have a clue who Joseph Kony even was. “Oh, so that’s what the Facebook posts have been all about?” shrugged off one student to his friend.

Since the nonprofit organization Invisible Children released the video earlier in the week, it has gained more than 70 million views on YouTube and Vimeo. At peak hours during the last two days, according to GigaTweeter.com, a site that measures social media activity, “Kony” has been mentioned in tweets more than 1,400 times per second.

But that hasn’t translated into a vocal outcry on this Brooklyn campus. No rallies, no protests, no walkouts. The students say they’ve seen the Facebook posts, but no one seems to have done anything more than scan it quickly, repost the video or maybe send a fast tweet. The muted response, says Dwight Johnson, 28, who is studying social psychology and German, owes more to the school’s status as a commuter campus, which he believes limits organized action.

“Nobody has said anything beyond the point of, there’s a warlord in Africa,” says Johnson. “This is horrible, we should do something about it, but what is it?”

Steven Demberowsky, a freshman majoring in computer science, shared the video on his Facebook page. But he didn’t receive much feedback from his friends. He says they figure, “It’s a 30 minute video. I’m not watching the whole thing!”

Another student, Mike Augustin, 26, says that the producers behind the video missed an opportunity to connect with students here by not releasing it during Black History Month. That way, campus organizations could have tied the crisis to some of their scheduled events.

Another complication? March is midterm season. “If this were in February, people would have paid more attention to it,” says Augustin. But maybe when midterms are over, they might.

But for now, he adds, the typical reaction among his peers seems to be: “I see it, it’s there, and that’s it.”

For more on the Kony 2012 video, click here.

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