The general usage of #WorldWarIII on social media demonstrates just how out of touch with the devastation of war some people are. While I know that I myself have been guilty of making jokes at inappropriate times, an escalation of tensions in the global system is not exactly how we want to be stepping into 2020. As a society our goal should be to de-escalate rising tensions worldwide, not add fuel to the fire.
Unfortunately for the world system, right now the “leader of the free world” is a man who acts with little regard for the post he actually holds. He does not stand for the balance of peace worldwide but will pursue his own agenda at all costs. The current situation in the Middle East is not a laughing matter, real people’s lives are on the line. And yet, social media sees this moment as a time to garner “likes” for the most sensationalized content.
The way that I was alerted to the situation in Iraq was through notifications on Twitter about #WorldWarIII. I originally thought that a new video game had been released based on the general mood of the tweets. They were lighthearted, comedic and alarming all at the same time. As the day went on and I checked into the hashtag further I saw that they were based off of real US airstrikes that had killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Madi al-Muhandis.
Somehow, I missed the joke.
A viral video has surfaced of a soldier putting the situation into perspective and being critical of the “meme” generation’s reaction online.
I was relieved when I saw this post because it frames the situation in a more realistic light. I was also happy to see that people on my timeline were sharing the video after it’s release, allowing this soldier’s message to reach as many as possible. There is so much about war that civilians do not see, especially when the turmoil is taking place on another continent.
The desensitized public has reacted through memes to make others laugh because in 2020 people will do anything to be trending. When I see the words “World War” right next to each other, I instantly think of World War II. I instantly think of the amount of lives that were lost, the loss of dignity and obliteration of entire ancestries. To see #WorldWarIII trending with mostly comedic material is a reflection of how backwards we are living in a year as futuristic sounding as 2020.
Our vision is supposed to be clearer than this in 2020.
And now it has been confirmed that the Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down by an Iranian missile. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that intelligence indicates the surface to air missile came from Iran and, at this time, it is uncertain as to whether or not it was intentional.
In my criticism of my generation’s reaction I have to ask, is there really any proper way to react? When faced with the prospect of war which is essentially a potential trauma and a fear induced in many, people will have odd reactions. This is to be expected. But when I looked into #WorldWarIII, I was overwhelmed with concern for what was going on militarily, but also online socially.
As we continue to receive new information on this situation daily, I just hope that people can check their reactions themselves. The amount of destruction and loss of life that takes place with war should be enough to solicit genuine prayers, questions or concern. Instead, we ended up with a race for creating the best meme and to be honest I think my generation can do better than that.
Not every current event is an opportunity to be exploited for clout. And, not every trending topic needs sassy retorts. Some need your utmost attention and sincere authentic response. We may be far from the days of hiding under desks like they did in the 1950’s, but to literally mock war so you can rack up some likes is too far to the other extreme. Is this generation so out of touch with humanity that its reaction is to laugh when it is threatened, or is this a lack of emotional intelligence and sensitivity?
Whatever it is, I haven’t laughed at one of the meme’s yet, although some have made me think. The overwhelming amount of memes and fact that they have not stopped are indicative of the problem, with no signs of slowing down.
Consider this, for what it’s worth, my own personal stop sign.