It's easier to watch and forward a video than it is to leave your house, and the people behind the Kony 2012 campaign are about to find out whether they can transform a viral sensation into real-world action.
Today's "Cover the Night" project aims to blanket "every city, on every block" around the world with posters, stickers and signs of Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony, according to the "Cover the Night" website. Kony is accused of forcing children to become soldiers and sex slaves.
But in Australia, where Cover the Night demonstrations have already begun, a fraction of the people who pledged to participate in the project actually showed up, reports MSN. Though 18,700 said on Facebook they would attend a Sydney event, MSN said only about 25 were spotted in Martin Place -- a busy pedestrian mall in Sydney's central business district.
A Cover the Night Facebook page with no set location -- it invites people to take part "anywhere" -- has less than 43,000 people pledging to attend. The task would require them to seek out their own local demonstation, or organize one. More than 5,200 have pledged to demonstrate on a page for New York City.
The grassroots nature of the demonstrations means many cities, like Los Angeles, have multiple online sources of sometimes contradictory information about how to get involved. While Occupy Wall Street protestors knew to go to Zuccotti Park, those planning to Cover the Night may not know where to start.
The tepid response, so far, raises questions about whether the promise of the campaign has already fizzled.
The original "Kony 2012" viral video has been viewed more than 88 million times on YouTube, but a follow-up video has drawn far fewer views. The campaign has also drawn negative attention from one of its founders, Jason Russell, being detained and hospitalized after a public meltdown on a San Diego corner. And critics have questioned the spending practices of his group, Invisible Children.
Those taking the most specific action appear not to be the grassroots-level activisits who made Kony a hot topic last month, but the old, boring, usual suspects: elected officials. A group of U.S. senators led by Chris Coons, Jim Inhofe and John Kerry introduced legislation on Thursday to expand the State Department's rewards program for information leading to Kony's capture.
Watch the senators' "Pursuing Joseph Kony" video, followed by the original "Kony 2012" clip: