Wesch Anthropology/Kony- Cara

1.  Wesch’s presentation was on Digital Ethnography in which Wesch and his students take an anthropological view on the purpose and effects of YouTube.  Basically, Wesch’s argument is that YouTube is changing the definition of so many aspects of our lives because it is creating another sense of what is a community.  According to Wesch, people want relationships, community and togetherness while living in a society that is rapidly moving towards individualism and YouTube is a way to make people accessible to each other globally.  The Kony video is a current viral video that is in reference to Joseph Kony and I honestly had avoided watching it purposely, but unfortunately I had to break down and watch it for the purposes of this blog.  Ultimately, it is a well made video that is attempting to rally support to bring down Joseph Kony who no one knew existed before this video, despite him being the number 1 threat against humanity.

2/3.  First, I am going to talk about Kony because as I said before, I purposefully avoided watching it mostly because of everyone on facebook who thought they were doing the cause a service by condescendingly posting about it and making it sound like they have been fighting this war for years as opposed to having just watched the video and considering themselves an expert and just ingesting what Jason Russel says as gospel.  I am not denying the Kony isn’t a horrible person and that no child should have to go through what those kids went through or go through, but this blind following of Russell is ridiculous.  So he can make a great movie and he can use his adorable son with fantastic hair for a child to make me feel bad about not paying for a Action Kit.  Yeah, it’s called propaganda and it isn’t new; it is just more widely accessible because everyone of my facebook friends re-posted it (sorry Jess).  Now, the point of digital media is for that to happen and the Kony video is a success, yet the issue lies within no one doing their research.  I might be slightly biased having watched the video after Russell was found parading around California in his underwear and having read articles previously to the assigned one stating the organization’s resistance in showing where there money goes, but having watched the video I still don’t feel compelled to go out on April 20th and plaster the streets of Hamilton in Kony 2012 stickers.  I am interested to see if that still happens though, considering Russell is going to be hospitalized for the next few weeks (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/03/kony-creator-jason-russell-will-remain-hospitalized-for-weeks.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)).  Basically, I think the Kony video is too little too late and is a just a ploy to get money from people.  My opinion is that it isn’t that people don’t care about what is going on all over the world, it is just that until social media it wasn’t available to the masses and now that it is people are acting like the world’s issues are new.  They aren’t new, this is just the first time we are hearing about it.  The world isn’t any worse than it was, the issues are just more available.

Now, I found Wesch’s presentation very interesting.  There were two main points that Wesch made that I would like to focus on.  First off, I did not disagree with Wesch; I think YouTube is a really cool resource for connecting with people that one might not necessarily be able to connect with otherwise.  However, I do not know if it is the long term answer to peoples’ need for community.  Wersch described this as Cultural Tension.  We live in a individual society, yet are craving relationships, so we turn to YouTube.  I turn to my friends, but to each their own.  Yes, YouTube is a great platform to speak your mind, show your artwork and creativity, show your adorable laughing baby off and get millions when Gerber uses it in their commercial, and become a part of a community because other people are watching your video.  Are they watching their video with you though? No. So you are still an individual and you actually don’t have a new relationship. You have a webcam alone in your room.  We cannot use YouTube as a crutch to avoid personal interaction. I am going to use Wersch’s argument against him.  Free Hugs.  I love free hugs, I love the idea of the guy who started free hugs, I love the person who decided to film him giving free hugs and I love how everyone else jumped on the free hug bandwagon.  Here’s a website explaining the health benefits of of hugs http://www.smart-heart-living.com/hugs-and-heart.html.  After watching all those people get hugs on video, I didn’t feel like my hug quota for the day was met, I felt like I wanted a hug from an actual person that isn’t on my computer screen. It is awesome that all of these hugs were documented and inspired other people to do it, but the actual connection didn’t happen in the video, it happened in the hug.

Great things can happen from YouTube.  Ellen DeGeneres has created this really great production company called ElevenEleven (get it, you make a wish at 11:11) to help talented kids she finds on YouTube become famous. This is really cool. When used correctly, YouTube is the poor man’s platform.  Anyone can go viral, make it on Tosh.O, or become the next Justin Beiber and that inspires people.  The attraction to YouTube is that there are no limits to who can be successful and that brings normal people out in droves to try to go viral.  I really liked the example of the hand with the guy in the V for Vendetta mask writing One World on it.  I think the repercussions of that video is a great and positive example of what can be achieved with social media and considering the global world that we live in now, a fantastic message.

4. With the hand example, it did show people that there were others out there who believed in what they believed in and that is a community, but I do not think long term that knowledge of just seeing a video will be enough or if it is, it scares me that we might live in a world that accepts that little human interaction as enough.  The second challenging idea for me is touched upon in Wesch’s presentation, but really illustrated in the reaction of the Kony video and that is how people just believe what they see and take it as fact.  People were down right appalled that people were acting on YouTube.  Well, as a person who fancies herself an actress, I see no better platform to make my talents known than the internet.  I don’t understand why people think because something is on the internet than it must be true. The way people just believed everything Russell spouted in the Kony video is absurd.  This represents the same issue we have in politics; people watch a commercial and they think they know everything a candidate stands for.  This convenient world where everything is at our fingertips is just breeding a society that is uninformed and gullible because no one does further research on a topic.  I actually find it amazing that so many people sat through the Kony video; sitcoms aren’t even that long.

5. This is question doesn’t really deal with digital media, but do you think that this April 20th event is actually going to happen now that Russell has been “exposed”? I wonder how many people care enough to repost a video and make their status a long rant about the injustices in Uganda, but will they actually go out and do something? Did Russell negate his status as a leader?

My second question deals with YouTube. Do the masses actually take it seriously? I know that many people have found success from YouTube, but mostly what is it used for? It is a cultural and anthropological phenomenon, but do the majority of users actually see it like that? Is there respect for people who get famous from YouTube?

6. This is relevant because it is digital storytelling, which is our next assignment.  Despite the Kony video not necessarily being fact-checked, it was a well-made video that did the job it set out to do: reach people and inform them about Kony.  It told a story.  Everyone on YouTube is telling a story and they are doing it with the same resources that we will be; no producers, no money, and no Hollywood writers.

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