The Kony 2012 director who was found naked in the street will remain in the hospital for several weeks. Danica Russell, Jason Russell’s wife, attributed her husband’s “reactive psychosis” to the “sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention – both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days.”
“Relative anonymity to worldwide attention” is an understatement. The Internet gives new meaning to Warhol’s observation about 15 minutes of fame. Russell is striving to bring Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the violent Lord’s Resistance Army, to justice for crimes against humanity, and his video exploded onto the global stage. More than 100 million people viewed the video the first week it was online. Many of these people expressed support and donated money to Russell’s cause.
Of course skepticism also went viral. Some questioned Russell’s character, such as when he told a magazine last year that “If Oprah, Steven Spielberg and Bono had a baby, I would be that baby.” They also questioned how Russell was spending the money of the charity he ran, Invisible Children.
I share those concerns, not because I am a critic of Russell or his charity. I think that any organization that attracts that much attention and support has an obligation to be transparent. Courtesy of the Web, we know there will be many more charities, causes and problem-solving groups seeking global fame and thus clout. In fact, we are in the early days of an explosion of new, networked models to solve global problems.
This is good because traditional global institutions are increasingly ineffective.