Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 6:06 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 

Tim Durnin: ‘Kony’ a Lesson in Going Viral and the Shift to a New Paradigm

There will be an event that sparks dramatic change, only it won’t unfold slowly as it has in the past

The past two weeks have been a primer for what will become the new paradigm in media.

The first story that exploded onto the information superhighway was a YouTube video promoting the work of the organization Invisible Children. Co-founder Jason Russell produced a 30-minute video to spotlight the tyranny of Joseph Kony. Kony operates a terrorist network in Uganda and other central African countries.

The video was uploaded to YouTube on March 5 and was received with relatively mild enthusiasm in the first days after it was posted. It garnered just 30,000 views in its first day. Then it found its way to Twitter. A young woman from Australia with just 29 followers tweeted to Oprah Winfrey about the documentary. Oprah in turn tweeted it to her 9.6 million followers.

By the end of the week, the video had garnered more than 20 million views and was the lead story for many news outlets. As of this writing, the video has more than 83 million views. As a result, the organization has received unparalleled attention and financial support. The Kony movement is thriving.

In an ironic twist, this past weekend demonstrated that social media is a blade that cuts both ways. Russell had what I can only describe as a complete breakdown, naked and on the streets in San Diego. It was a tragic scene, and one caught on video from several angles.

Entertainment gossip site TMZ was the first to post the video, and it, too, went viral. If you are not familiar with TMZ, become so. It is a site that is as influential as any mainstream media source and one that has a profound influence on our youth. Russell will never be the same.

There are many lessons to be culled from these events. First and foremost, there is no privacy — at least not once you step out your front door. Cameras are everywhere, and once there is any kind of action they start to roll. If you want privacy, stay in your home and close the blinds.

Another more heartbreaking and disturbing event crowded the social media networks this past week. If you are not familiar with the name Trayvon Martin, I urge you to become so. Martin was an African-American teen gunned down by a crazed vigilante in — can you guess? — Florida. Martin was walking home with an iced tea and bag of Skittles when he was stalked and then murdered by self-proclaimed neighborhood watch commander George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was not detained and has not been arrested. In spite of the fact that 9-1-1 tapes from that night clearly indicate he was slurring his words, he was not given a sobriety or drug test. It took FBI and Justice Department involvement to pressure the state into initiating a grand jury investigation.

Twenty years ago, Martin’s death would have been ignored and slipped into oblivion. Not so today. I do not know if the name Trayvon Martin will be the name associated with a radical change that is on the horizon. But there will be a name, and it is coming.

If you have not sensed the growing tension in the USA, beware. One story that has not yet gone viral was the release last week of census data on the distribution of wealth in this country. Santa Barbara County was ranked among the worst.

There will be an event that will spark a call for dramatic change. Only it won’t unfold slowly as it has in our past. It will move as fast as information moves across the Internet. It will be informed not by traditional news sources, but by people on the streets reinforced with dramatic video and sound.

There is a new paradigm. We will all be better off if we embrace that paradigm, respect its strength and appreciate the power it has to engender radical change in the span of a few key strokes.

There will be a name. It is coming. Be prepared.

— Tim Durnin is a father and husband. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for comments, discussion, criticism, suggestions and story ideas.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.