Community was once a place of action linked to emotion -- a powerful hub and spoke of social change. Nowadays anyone on a compiled data file can be considered to be part of a community. How the mighty have fallen.
No matter how questionable the cause, people continue to invest in others, perhaps because to invest in a cause -- no matter how small -- is to invest in humanity.
Mounting suspicions about the evangelical nature of the Invisible Children nonprofit, which released the blockbuster KONY 2012 viral video hit in early March, have now been confirmed.
Will Joseph Kony ever be transformed from a household name into a convicted mass-murderer, or will the quest to stop the innocent killing in Uganda die out as a mere fad, a PR ploy gone terribly wrong?
The reason that this video went viral is because so much strategy and funding went into making sure that it triggered certain reactions for the audience.
At any point, anyone with a social mission can lose it. You live and breathe your work. It's so personal to you. Meltdowns like Russell's can happen whenever you have a mission much bigger than yourself.
Imagine for a second your worst day or your worst decision -- and having that magnified a million times. A Google search for "Jason Russell arrest" (which was not an actual arrest because charges weren't made) conjured up 121 million results on Google. Imagine that with your name.
The next time you feel the instinct to make a particularly harsh remark about another's work, pause and ask yourself where that response is coming from. Instead of lashing out, turn inward.
Being a catalyst for change is not easy, especially in a media-driven world where the press often instigates controversy solely to induce greater viewership.
No one asked Jason Russell to get in front of the camera. That was his choice. In casting himself as a role model, Russell asked kids around the world to believe -- not just in his cause, but in him.
I can only hope that those quick to condemn Jason Russell will withhold their judgment just a little longer and do a bit more digging, at least to a greater depth than 140 characters.
The journalist and the dramatist must navigate between the siren call of story and the rocky shoals of truth. Both Jason Russell and Mike Daisey wrecked their ships. We should judge them not simply by their navigational skills, or lack thereof, but also the things they carried.
If invisible Children and Mike Daisey did nothing else, they woke the vast majority of the planet up to the fact that we need to pay attention to the human rights of everyone.
Hope always seems to be dashed when it hits reality. And so it has happened here with Kony 2012 (and with Obama). But the scope of this hope seems far different from in the past.
Educating people is an act of activism. Period.