It’s always cool to be one of the good guys. The good guys stand tall, they win and then later on, over port and cigars on a white sanded beach beneath the glowing sun, they get to feel all righteous and validated. At least that’s how I imagine things going when you stand up to the injustices and sufferings inflicted upon the innocent of the world. And like so many I do my utmost to ignore that nagging feeling that generally disapproving of things and being right on when it comes to the latest burgeoning news story doesn’t really count as taking a stand against the mad, bad and depressingly dangerous nutjobs that our species breeds so well. And as with human interaction, productivity, identity, self-awareness and knowledge that most wondrous of things, the internet, is there to tell me not to worry and, instead, to start a Facebook page. Because as the old adage goes, evil wins when good men don’t click ‘like’.
Most recently that hotbed of moral authority, the internet, has revealed the latest ultra-evil, archetypal bad guy to the world in the form of Joseph Kony – boss man of the dubiously named Lord’s Resistance Army (whose aims are so nebulous as to almost seem like random excuses for being a bastard), killer of innocents, pillager of villages and general poster boy for the dark and clammy underbelly of the human soul. From a video made by Invisible Children to raise awareness of this destroyer of all things good and pure that is big Joe Kony (whose CV lists his ‘professional skills’ as purveyor of the finest child soldiers, meaningless slaughter and other universally offensive behaviour) a massive reaction has been provoked. The full weight of internet indignation has been bought to bear in the form of vicious bombardments of condemnation on Twitter and Facebook. Like kryptonite it’s a campaign of disapproval and half-arsed rants derived from 10 minutes on Wiki which has, presumably, left Kony a broken man who I imagine is even now weeping in a dark corner as yet another friend of a friend who he met once on a night out in Kampala un-tags him from that awkwardly posed picture taken in a moment of instantly forgotten drunken camaraderie and posts a less than warm response to his latest Twitter message about the hilarious pictures he found of otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch.
As a cultural art form you can’t knock it, good intentions meeting utter futility in an exercise which makes a few million people feel righteously indignant and capable of actually doing something about it without really having to do anything at all. A few tweets, a Facebook like and you can say yes, you were there on the day that the tide turned against an absolute bastard – like a veteran of a real uprising against injustice, only without the risk or discomfort – you did your part. And given that in a few months and (probably) a ‘serious’ action film starring Forrest Whitaker later the next moral crusade will have emerged from the ether you can even put a full stop at the end of the story and save yourself from any of those inconvenient worries about whether that witty post and clever cat/Kony hybrid meme you made actually had any effect at all.
Just about the only downside is that the next target of lazy outrage won’t be the equally perfidious General Butt Naked, cannibal, child slaver and cross dressing sociopath who, for all of his immediate internet appeal as a bad guy, has retired to Christianity without ever having to see himself on the receiving end of a condemning status update or Twitter campaign. There really is no justice.