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New Year’s resolution: Don’t get Kony-ed

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So, Friends, it’s 2013, and Joseph Kony is still at large.

More likely than not, you hadn’t heard of Kony before 2012, and then this past year he came to your attention via the most rapidly viral social justice campaign in human history. The virality of this YouTube video itself was huge mainstream news worldwide on its own, accompanied by an excellent designed campaign of collateral: a great example of how we now live in a world where everyone is a designer, a communicator, a message. And yet….

Number of views for Kony 2012 video in 2012:96,033,780

Number of warlords named Joseph Kony arrested in 2012: 0

And yet, here we are in 2013 and the failure of the goal of that video (to arrest Kony by December 31, 2012) did not even make a blip in mainstream media. The most viewed do good video in human history, which itself pushed the bounds of the technology and reach of design for the social good, yielded unprecedented good intentions and outpouring of interest around the world…and yet, for whatever reason, failed to deliver on its stated objective.

What do we learn from this?  We have to stop being naive, both as designers and consumers, that messaging alone can save the world. As we embrace the power of design to help create our best civilization yet, we must persist and follow through, not just with graphic design, but with the design thinking and tactics that will finish what we start. We must be relentless in the pursuit of a better future.

In the film Casablanca, Rick says to Laszlo, “We all try. You succeed.”

Designers can be unstoppable. This year, be Laslzo. Be unstoppable.

New Year’s resolution for 2013: Don’t just try to do good…get it done.

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Reviewed January 2, 2013

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