Be a Better Reader: Reading Beyond the Headline (Or, Driving Safely on the Internet)


A 5-part series. Sure, there are a number of ways in which any writer you enjoy on the Internet can do their work better. However, there are also ways in which readers can improve how they interact with the content they consume, and in doing so, improve their own experience and the experience of fellow readers. (Obviously, my opinions are my own – this is my blog, after all – and are not endorsed in any way by any outlet past or present for whom I write or have written.)

I was speaking with a writer friend recently, and we were both commenting on how amazing it is that, for all that the Internet has allowed people to have access to more information, reading comprehension skills seem to be sorely lacking. What’s more, for all that people love to “surf” the Internet, they often don’t spend the time actually reading anything. We’ve all become skimmers – which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Use the Internet however you want and more power to you!

The problems arise when people who haven’t actually read anything feel the need to comment on the things they haven’t read. Rather than contributing to a healthy dialogue, they derail the conversations of people who have read the piece, and start “debates” that have nothing to do with it. Nowhere is this more evident than on Facebook, where posting a comment on an item for which they’ve only seen the preview seems to be a lot of people’s favorite pastime.

It’s become such an epidemic that NPR posted this article about it in April of last year. You’ll be amazed at how many people “commented” on the “story” despite NPR’s obvious fishing.

However, even if people engage with a piece past the headline, many seem to not be engaging too well with the text. A good reader, when they reach a point that’s unclear will ask for clarification before trying to make a point. The outlets for which I’ve written in my career generally have very thoughtful, intelligent readers, and if I haven’t communicated well enough as a writer, they’ll point it out, responding gently to the point I seem to be making while acknowledging that this may not have been what I meant based on the rest of my piece. Then, I clarify accordingly and we have an actual discussion about it. This is great, and I love this kind of engagement!

Then there are other types of readers, who will skim something then make comments like “Why didn’t you address X point?” or point out a fallacy in my argument based on lazy reading. I often find myself defending myself with my own text – No, here it is. I said that right here, or alternately, That isn’t actually what I wrote – here’s this bit again….

I take my job as a writer very seriously, and I’m looking to improve every day. I hate it when I’m not clear, and I actually enjoy getting notes on my work, because I know that my work will end up stronger because of it. However, I do think that readers have a huge responsibility. Communication is a two-way street (or a multi-lane highway), and it’s your responsibility to take other drivers into account, not simply focus on your own driving.

Just because you’re reading a professional website doesn’t mean you’re absolved of your duty to think critically or, you know, actually read the words that are in front of you before you say something about them.

What you can do: If you come across something in a piece of writing that you want to comment on, STOP. Take a breath. Read it again. See if you can repeat the writer’s point in your own words to yourself. If you can, comment. If you can’t, ask for clarification. There’s no need to rush to comment. The Internet will still be there for you when you get back.

Also, before you engage with fellow readers in the comments section. Read the comments, too. Comments sections are for (or should be for) conversation, and you don’t want to butt in on a conversation of which you don’t know the context.  If you were at a party, and you passed by a group of people chatting and just blurted out an opinion based on a stray word you heard, that would kinda be frowned upon. (I know – I’ve been that awkward person who thinks they know what they’re contributing to when they don’t. Trust me.) Likewise, comment sections.

I write, you read. I make a point, you make a point about the point I made. We discuss. We move forward. But we have to be doing that together.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Be a Better Reader! If you missed Part 1, check it out here!

(This post is supported by Patreon)

Join Me at ONA 2015!


Thanks to a recommendation from the lovely Sophia Flores-Cruz from Sci-Fi Latino (thanks, @latinageek!), I’ve been invited to participate on a panel at the Online News Association’s 2015 Conference this year!

It’s a panel called Whose Idea of the Future is This? Here’s the official description:

Rapid advances in tech and shifting population dynamics in the United States ensure we are destined for a future beyond current white-male-dominated media thinking. We’ve assembled a group of experts on futurism to look at predictions and possibilities for how our society is changing, and help rethink our approach to media, technology and our communities.

Basically, we’ll be talking about diversity in sci-fi/dystopia and how it relates to media. 🙂

I was so honored to be asked, and to be sharing a stage with the digital editor at The Atlantic, a futurism scholar, and a talented author/filmmaker who’s an expert in Afro-Futurism. It should be an interesting discussion!

Despite what the website currently says about it, my panel has actually been changed to Friday, September 25th from 3:30-4:30PM. So, if any of you out there are digital journalists, journalism students, or simply so interested in digital journalism and media that you want to hang out with online journalists all day and listen to me and others talk about visions of the future, join me at ONA15!

Be a Better Reader: Vote With Your Clicks


Photo from:

Photo from:

A 5-part series. Sure, there are a number of ways in which any writer you enjoy on the Internet can do their work better. However, there are also ways in which readers can improve how they interact with the content they consume, and in doing so, improve their own experience and the experience of fellow readers. (Obviously, my opinions are my own – this is my blog, after all – and are not endorsed in any way by any outlet past or present for whom I write or have written.)

As you’re probably aware, I’m an Assistant Editor over at The Mary Sue, where I have the pleasure of writing about all sorts of geeky and fun things through a feminist/social justice lens. 9 times out of 10, we write about things we love – new films/books/TV shows we’re excited about, inspiring women and girls doing cool things in all fields, cool new products we love, or discoveries in tech and science that we’re super-jazzed about. We really, really do.

But sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we hear about something in the news about which we want to use our platform to be a voice for change, equality, and a better world. And so, sometimes our writers will write pieces about films or TV shows, or even public figures and how they can do better in relation to things like sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or issues of class. These are important concerns to us (and hopefully to all of you, too), and we believe it’s important to use these stories as stepping stones to start conversations .

That said, we’re well aware that, since there is so much wrong in the world, there’s always the danger of us dwelling on those things. It’s something we, as individual writers and as a site, fight against every day. We want to provide readers with a balance.

Determining that balance proves difficult, however, when what our readers respond to seems lopsided. We write so many stories about things we love, do interviews with amazing female creators doing awesome things, and tell the stories of awesome women and girls. Things that many of our readers say they want. And yet, those are the pieces that get the fewest “hits.” They’re often the pieces with the fewest comments, conversation, and interaction. They’re the pieces shared the least (unless they somehow involve a big-name celebrity like Chris Pratt).

Yet, whenever we post a social justice piece of any kind where one of our writers expresses a strong opinion about how someone or something could be or do better, we’re accused of writing “clickbait” (it’s amazing how often people mistake “an article they find interesting enough to click on” for “clickbait.” They’re two different things); accused of using important issues to “manufacture controversy” and get views for our site. Or, alternately, we’re accused of “always being negative;” harping on the wrong in the world without acknowledging how far women, LGBTQ+ folks, or ethnic minorities have come.

First of all, our intention with pieces like that is always to inform, educate, and start larger conversations in the hopes of making the world a little better than it was yesterday. Yes, of course we need to worry about things like our numbers – but that isn’t why we choose the things that ultimately end up on the site. We choose them, because they’re things we care about and they’re things we think are important – as evidenced by people having so much to say about them!

Secondly, we do write more celebratory things. If you look at our site, you’ll probably notice one or two “controversial” pieces every day while the rest is stuff we think is cool! And yet, the majority of posts get the least interaction, while the minority of the posts – these longer-form pieces featuring strong opinions about the world’s ills – get all the comments, shares, and interaction.

Many of those comments saying things like, “You’re always stooping to writing clickbait!” or “Why are you always complaining about stuff? I remember when you used to write celebratory things about things you like!”

We still do – often – you just don’t read those things.

What You Can Do: If you want to see a certain type of content more often, make sure you check it out when it’s offered, make positive comments, share it often, and engage people in discussion over it. If you only offer negative comments on things you don’t like, but don’t visit/comment on the things you do, you know what that means? It means that the thing you don’t like got a bunch of clicks, but that the thing you do like got shown no internet love. And so which of the two do you think we’re going to think our readers find more engaging?

When we look at our stats, we don’t see who came specifically to complain versus who came to love the piece. All we know is that people – for some reason – responded to this piece in a way they didn’t to others. As we’re trying to give our readers content they find engaging, we strive to replicate the kind of content our readers want to read. And while it’s great to receive feedback from individual readers about what they like and don’t like, the individual feedback is a small sampling of people who read our site. Stats (or “clicks”) are the easiest way for us to look at the entire picture.

Going to articles you hate to complain is less effective than visiting and interacting with the articles you do like.

This is not to say that you should never disagree with articles. By all means, disagree with the ideas in anything I write. But if you don’t like a type of post – rather than telling me you hate when I post stuff like that, support the stuff you like instead so I know you like it. Both you, and your fellow readers, will be better off for it. If you want to be a good reader and Internet Citizen, vote for things with your support rather than against them with your criticism.

Now, feel free to let me know if I missed something in the comments below! 🙂

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Be a Better Reader tomorrow!

(This post is supported by Patreon)

Just Because You’re Not a Journalist, Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Fact-Check

In the past week and a half, I’ve encountered three instances of sensationalized, unverified information in my Facebook feed.

First, there was the time when The Guardian wrote about the end of civilization, which ended up being debunked by Discover Magazine. The original story was flying around my social media, but when I forwarded the debunking, I didn’t see that go very viral at all. I guess correct information, or at least an alternate, healthily skeptical view, is less fun to pass around to your friends?

Then, someone I know forwarded what she thought was an Einstein quote, but ended up being a portion of an Einstein quote lumped together with a portion of a blog post about shamanism, which drew my suspicion precisely because the entire thing as attributed to Einstein sounded so very un-Einstein from what I’ve come to know of him and what he’s said/written about religion and science. So I did some quick Google searching, discovered the error, and sent it her way. Just because you see a quote in a cute meme doesn’t mean it’s accurate. 

Finally, today, there was this USA Today story flying around about a flyer that was handed out in the city of Donetsk in Ukraine ordering Jews to register with the city on penalty of having their citizenship revoked. This article makes it a point to say that the origin of the flyer is unknown, and spoke to several people in-the-know about their suspicions, etc, but the way this was passed around in my social media feeds, you’d think that Holocaust 2.0 were happening right now. Probably because the headline originally read “Jews Ordered to Register in East Ukraine” While it still reads that way on the main news page (which is where the clicks from USA Today’s regular readers will likely come from), the title when you click on the article is “Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine.” See the difference? The first headline makes it seem as though Ukraine were sanctioning this. The second makes it seem like an article about a mysterious anti-Semitic leaflet that requires further investigation. But which story is more “exciting?” 

Since that article came out, there’s since been several that have urged people to calm down, as most of the facts point to it not being government-sanctioned. Like this one from New Republic Magazine. Sadly, I don’t see the New Republic article with the headline “Ukraine Is Not Ordering Its Jews to Register” being shared as quickly, or as often, in my feed.

I could write about the fact that journalists at reputable news organizations seem to not bother with silly things like fact-checking and journalistic ethics anymore, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. 

I wanted to talk about the fact that you and I are complicit in those lapses in journalistic judgment. 


1) More People “Get Their News” From Social Media Than Ever Before (and They’re “Getting It” Wrong)

In a 2012 study done by the Pew Research Center For the People and the Press, 19% of all Americans (and 34% of Americans under 30) get their news from social media sites, which means articles and videos made viral on sites like Facebook and Twitter. By the looks of my social media feeds, I’m sure those numbers have gone up in the past two years. People love reading news on their social media, and they love passing it around.

The problem is, when people “get news” on social media, they’re very often just reading sensational headlines and forwarding things without reading the articles in full. When they do read the articles in full, they aren’t paying attention to whether or not the journalist has actually quoted anyone relevant, or cited sources, or, you know, done journalism right. There’s no critical thinking happening. It’s just: OUTRAGE, then share, then on to the next thing. 

This is harmful. Especially on Facebook. As you all might know, the recently-changed FB algorithm promotes statuses into your feed based on how many likes, shares, and comments they get. In other words, we’re only seeing the popular stuff. So, if you’re quick on the draw and posting sensationalistic click-bait without verifying it, that’s the thing that’s gonna go viral, and it will drown out the real, non-hysterical news that does silly things like verify boring ol’ facts.

In our eagerness to share information, we’re perpetuating incorrect information, passing it off as truth.

2) Outlets Don’t Bother, Because They Know They Don’t Have To

Once cable news entered the scene, it was the beginning of the end. (Is that sensational enough for you?) But seriously, with cable news came the “24-hour News Cycle” which meant that a) news networks had to find 24-hours worth of stuff to talk about, and b) they were competing with each other for viewers.

The Internet compounded that. Now, not only is there a 24-Hour News Cycle, but anyone with a blog or a social media feed can take part! Everyone can talk about current events to their heart’s content, and non-professional journalists, since they don’t have editors, have the choice of whether or not they want to verify what they’re spreading around the internet.

What do TV News and blogs and social media sites have in common? They live or die by eyeballs. Ratings, clicks, shares, likes. It’s all about how many people you get to look at the thing you’re writing. Eyeballs are how professional news outlets make money, and how non-professional information aggregators get validation. This is so dangerous when it comes to news and history, because this is the area in which eyeballs become more important than fact.

The thing is, TV News programs, as well as bloggers and information aggregators study what works. They specialize in getting eyeballs, because that’s their livelihood. What they’ve learned is that people respond to sensationalized news, and often, in an attempt to sensationalize otherwise boring news and facts, they’ll tweak a headline to purposely make it misleading (click!), or they’ll fluff up a news story with pointed opinion that sounds very much like fact, but nonetheless isn’t (click! click!).

This isn’t new. William Randolph Hearst, for one, specialized in sensationalizing news in order to gain readership, hold on to his monopoly over the press, and further his political agendas in the 1930s. But today, we’re the ones doing the heavy lifting. Every time we click, like, and share, we confirm for the media that we enjoy half-truths and sensationalism. And so they continue to do it. Feeding our desire for a quick hit of shock or outrage in our otherwise boring work days, and guaranteeing that they will live to lie (or fluff up the truth) another day.

3) Dates Are Important

For the love of God, people. Why are you continuing to post April Fool’s Day stories two weeks after the fact?! For example, this April Fool’s article at Jezebel about Netflix bringing back Firefly showed up in my Facebook feed two or three days ago, and a friend of mine was so happy about the news! This is the problem with media outlets doing April Fools Joke stories. They’re funny day-of, but they’re not taken down, which means that anyone reading the site after April 1st will find it, not check the date, and giddily spread the news of Firefly’s return thinking that it’s real! Also, old news stories have a tendency to resurface in my social media feeds as NEW news stories way too often. The Internet is forever – and no one seems to look at dates.


I, for one, am ashamed of myself for the times that I’ve been guilty of doing this, and I’m sick of being taken in whenever others share unverified “news” and facts with me. So, I’ve been thinking about how I want to handle this from now on. Because I can complain about how how vile mainstream media is all day. I can complain about the incompetence of bloggers who call themselves journalists until I’m blue in the face. The fact is, they’re vile, because I’m complacent. They’re incompetent, because I don’t hold them to any kind of a standard. They get away with it, because I’m too lazy to do a Google search to verify facts before I share their wares, ensuring them a long, unethical life.

So from now on, these are my personal guidelines (which you’re free to follow as well):

1) If my first impulse is to go “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!” and share with my social media feed – I’m going to STOP.

My excited/annoyed/outraged reaction is likely the product of careful manipulation by the outlet, blogger, or their marketing representative. Not necessarily the result of the actual facts of the story. I will not share or forward what sparked my reaction until I do more research. If I’m too lazy to look up the info, I just won’t forward the story. Done and done.

2) I will not share or like an “inspirational quote” unless I know that the quote is attributed correctly. 

If I”m gonna be “inspired” by someone, I’d at least like to know that I’m being inspired by the right person.

3) If something is too good, too shocking, or too anything to be real, it probably is. 

Media makes it seem as though EVERYTHING IS EXTREME AND HUGELY DIVISIVE! But the truth is, the world is more moderate than that most of the time, and when something shocking DOES actually happen, I’d hate for it to be drowned out by a lot of crying wolf.

4) I will check the date of the story, and I will never share or like anything posted on April 1st.

Because COME THE FUCK ON, PEOPLE! FIREFLY ISN’T COMING BACK. EVER. I KNOW THAT SUCKS, BUT DAMN. Also, yes – just because a story is coming up in my feed today, doesn’t mean it happened today. I’m not going to pass something around as news that’s, well, old news.

Lastly, as someone who keeps a blog and writes for professional outlets, I want to make a promise to all of you. I’ve never considered myself an actual journalist. I never really wanted to write journalism, honestly, but it pays more than fiction (which pays nothing when you’re starting out), so I found myself a pop-cultury niche so that I could actually earn some kind of a living as a writer. There are plenty of real journalists out there who are reporting important news far better than I ever could. I’m a great source for thoughtful, creative non-fiction. That’s what I do. Opinion and analysis, talking about the news long after the real reporting has been done. However, there are indeed times when I do need to let you know about facts to back up my opinions on certain things, and when I do, I will always cite my sources, and verify my facts thoroughly before I give them to you. And if, for some reason my facts are wrong, I will always happily eat crow in front of you, and correct my articles and posts so that incorrect information doesn’t continue to be sent out into the world as my work is shared on the internet.

I love the internet. I love how freely and easily we can share information and ideas with each other. But just because you can click “send,” “share,” or “like” doesn’t mean you should.

When it comes to facts on the internet, let’s think before we share! 🙂

ChinaShop Post: Cheeks – Saving the Internet One Video At a Time

One of my favorite things about being a writer is getting to profile people I really, really like. Over at ChinaShop today is my profile of the hugely talented Cheeks, aka Brad Bell who, among other things, is the creator and star of the hit web series, Husbands.


If you don’t already know Cheeks, you should. Since September 2008, his YouTube channel has amassed almost 12,000 subscribers and over 2 million views. He has music on iTunes, including the hilarious “They Call Me Cheeks,” and very active Twitter account (@GoCheeksGo). These days, Cheeks has been getting lots of attention for his web series, Husbands, the first gay marriage sitcom.

Brad Bell knew that when he moved out to Hollywood from Texas that he wasn’t going to follow the same path as everybody else. “I knew that I wasn’t going to drive around town with my headshot and be all I can play this role! I can do that! I’m this guy! Because I’m not every guy, you know? I’m a specific type. So when I got here, I wanted to figure out What am I gonna do differently? What’s a different way into this machine? And it took a couple of years to figure out. YouTube came out as a website that people knew about and were using I think, like, two years after I moved [to L.A.]. That’s when I was like, Okay, there are people putting themselves out there in front of thousands of people on their own platform. I can do that. And I still audition for stuff, but I didn’t feel the need, that it was my only way in.”

For the full article, to vote (click the little tea cups at the bottom!), or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!

The Fray Project: Keeping In Touch (Lifestyle)

To check out my April 2012 Lifestyle goals, CLICK HERE.

It’s interesting that on the day I scheduled to talk about my Lifestyle goals for this month, I came across this article from The Atlantic about Facebook and loneliness.

I never know how to feel about articles like this; articles that talk about how the internet is ruining society, because even though we’re more interconnected than ever, the lack of in-person human interaction will ultimately be the downfall of humanity. I never know how to feel about reports like this, because many of the wonderful, in-person friendships I now have I owe to the internet. I joined a theater company in New York, because I’d gotten to know its producer on a Liev Schreiber message board. I met three other good friends of mine on that same board, when one of them (hey, Cathy!) came to NYC to see Schreiber in a production of Othello, and I went with her and two other friends she introduced me to, and with whom I’m still friendly. They introduced me to still two other friends, and we not only hang out whenever one visits the other’s city, but we’ve traveled together, meeting up elsewhere. Every single writing gig I’ve gotten, editor I’ve met, several non-writing jobs I’ve gotten – hell, half of the dates I’ve ever been on – have all been thanks to first connecting on the internet.

And that’s just the strangers.

I hate the phone, generally. I’m bad at phone calls, and usually only use the phone to make plans, or if a friend calls with an emergency. The internet has allowed me to maintain a closer relationship with my friends and family than I ever would’ve been able to maintain on my own. When my sister joined Facebook, it was a revelation, and now we chat on there, or leave each other posts, pictures, etc. We keep up with each other online, which makes the times when we see each other in person more rewarding, because we don’t have to waste time “catching up.” We can get right into the thick of things without preliminary small talk! When I moved to L.A, I had an already built-in network of about 15-20 people before I even got here, all because I’d gotten to know them through my writing on the internet. They are now becoming in-person friends.

My goal in April (and for the next few months) is to keep in touch with a select list of 10 people in New York over Google Hangout or Skype, and a select list of L.A. people I know in-person. Google Hangout and Skype are MIRACULOUS. I hate the phone, but I love these things, because it allows me to feel like I’m in the room with people I care about, which is wonderful. PS – Facebook also has video chat. 🙂

This article has one thing right – online contact isn’t a replacement for in-person human interaction. But when used properly, the internet can enhance and improve in-person human interaction, both improving your relationship with your loved ones, and bringing new people into your real-life sphere. The internet means you’ll always have a couch on which to crash wherever you go, you’ll always have people who wonder what you’re doing, and that even if you leave home to follow your dreams, you’ll always be able to be close to the people you love most. Screw the haters. The internet is wonderful.

Why I Support the KONY 2012 Video (And Why I Think Some Are Missing The Point)

First it was nothing I’d ever heard of. Suddenly it was everywhere. Not Kony. I’d heard of him before all this. Actually, my first real lesson in Joseph Kony and the crimes for which he’s responsible was in the Vertigo comic Unknown Soldier. (Who says comics can’t teach us anything?) And a woman for whom I used to pet-sit, Leora Khan, has done lots of work on behalf of child soldiers through her organization PROOF Media for Social Justice, so I absorbed a lot from her, too.

But yesterday, I saw several people posting the following video on Tumblr, and I think you should watch it. It’s a little over 20 minutes long:

I was inspired, not just because I saw someone actively attempting to stop something on a continent that, quite honestly, few governments actually give a fuck about, but because it captured everything I think is wonderful about the technologically advanced and increasingly interconnected world in which we live. And so I passed the link around.

Today, I’ve seen several people talking about how we shouldn’t be supporting this campaign, because the organization behind it, Invisible Children, is “shady” with regard to the way it uses its money. Some have even gone so far as to say that the LRA, while a big problem (and they always qualify it, because they don’t want to seem heartless), isn’t that big of a deal now anyway, and the U.S. is already doing something about it, and Kony might be dead anyway, so why are we all gonna get invested in this campaign? Wil Wheaton reblogged a post from The Daily What’s tumblr. A friend of mine posted the following comment after I posted the video on Facebook:

Although Kony is still out there, the LRA has not been active in Uganda since 2006. And several reports have been made that he’s ill and not very active himself, possibly dead. We should find out for sure, of course, but Invisible Children has been criticized by several for leaving out facts and the group has come under investigation several times for questionable money practices and for sometimes refusing to share charity financial records. Definitely think Kony should be found and happy to spread the word, but not sure I want to support this particular video.

To which I responded:

1) the LRA “not being active in Uganda since 2006” is just flat-out not true. There was the Mokombo massacre in Dec 2009, and attacks continued through Feb 2010. Obama sent in 100 advisers at the end of this past year. No matter what the public said, Washington wouldn’t send anyone to Africa if it were considered a total waste of time.

2) Kony 2012 isn’t about charity. You don’t have to give them money at all. Purchasing the action kit and all that is optional, but the goal is to GET INVOLVED. With at least time and effort, if not money. So if possible charity shadiness is what you’re worried about, you don’t have to be. It’s just as easy to download and print posters yourself as it is to order them through their website. And the video just inspires people to action. However, just about EVERY non-profit has been, at some point, investigated because of how they use their money. Doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong. Or that, if mistakes were made, they weren’t fixed. Also, Invisible Children has all their financials on their Tri website going back to 2006 if anyone wants to look into it.

3) I’d be curious to know what reports have talked about him being ill or dead? Just did a Google search and didn’t turn up anything like that. The only references to him being “sick” all coincide with peace talks he was supposed to attend.

4) Another big reason why I’m behind this particular campaign so much is because it provides an amazing model for activism. I love that the internet really has changed the world in so many ways. From the Occupy Movement to stuff like this, people can actually get together and change things. And Kony 2012 is a very specific, focused goal. If progress is made on this front within this year (progress being that gov’t realizes that their citizens actually do care about this and don’t want the advisers pulled out), then this can be a template for change on other fronts.

I am absolutely shocked and disheartened by the “backlash” this video is getting, because it points to this generation’s seeming need to remain apathetic at all times. If people care about something too much, or if something is too popular, something is clearly awry. It’s our job to be skeptical, and if our choices are between “not having our money used properly” and “doing nothing,” people will choose Doing Nothing every time. Because, hey – at least we’ll still have our money, right? And those problems in the world? Well, it’s not like we were gonna solve them all anyway.

One of the biggest criticisms of the Occupy Movement was that the goals weren’t specific enough. What do these occupiers want? With KONY 2012, the criticism – in addition to the overly-inflated money concerns – is that this goal is too specific. Sure we’d be getting rid of Kony, but that won’t solve the real problems. God, it’s like people will use any excuse to not care! Your goal isn’t specific enough. Your goal is too specific. It’s like being stuck between a stubborn rock and an irrational hard place you wanna punch in the neck!

It’s funny, usually people are idealistic in their youth, and hardened and cynical in their “old age.” For me, the opposite has happened, and I find apathy and cynicism infuriating.

The thing is, KONY 2012 detractors have made this all about money, when the fact is, THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO THIS VIDEO THAN THAT. You don’t have to spend A DIME. On ANYTHING. The video isn’t a call to finances, it’s a call to ACTION, and that’s what detractors are missing. Giving a small amount of money is only one thing this video is asking you to do, and honestly, it’s the least important.

So often we’re totally happy to merely throw money at problems. Look how charitable I’m being! I gave all this money! But we don’t actually care where the money goes. We don’t follow up on it. If we did, we wouldn’t need people to tell us when organizations are being shady, because WE’D ALREADY KNOW. And when it comes to things like calling congresspeople or senators? When it comes to organizing people in our communities? When it comes to making phone calls, or registering voters, or merely SPEAKING UP to our friends about a cause we care about? We don’t do it.

Because it’s too much fucking work.

That’s something that’s been annoying me for a long time. Because I’m someone who wants to DO things about things! I don’t want to just write a check and call it a day. I want to be INVOLVED. And whenever I’ve tried to be involved and get others to be as excited, I feel like a cheerleader without a team. And it’s difficult to be a cheerleader with no one else holding you up in the pyramid!

Watch the video and share it. It costs you absolutely nothing. I think the video might inspire you to a) learn more about the plight of child soldiers, b) call your elected officials, c) take this issue into account when voting this year, d) take part in more grassroots organizing around this, or any other issue you’re passionate about.

And as for Kony, I think that ascertaining his whereabouts is a worthwhile goal for all of us this year. It is one thing we can focus on and help to accomplish. Even if Invisible Children is inflating their involvement in our government’s decision to send advisers to Uganda, or misusing funds, or any of the other charges thrown in their direction…what the video says about us living in an age when we can accomplish so much more because we are interconnected, and have a duty to care about the world beyond our borders? That is not wrong. That is the idea this video ultimately spreads.

That, not money, is what KONY 2012 is about.