For a long time, World War III has been an anxious dystopian vision. After American forces killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani on January 3, 2020, despite there already being a messy relationship between the U.S and Iran, people started jumping to conclusions and speculations that a third World War was soon to start. The current tensions and anxiety have resulted in various memes flooding social media, such as TikTok and Twitter.
We live in a period where memes on social media can capture the essence of the issues that happen around the world, but sometimes people take them too far. There is something very unsettling in memes speculating about war and the potential deaths of millions going viral and becoming trendy, some of which are displayed on Instagram, TikTok, or SoundCloud. With the internet being a major platform for today’s generation, some believe that they can use dark comedy to earn likes and retweets. Everyone wants to make jokes about innocent lives being killed in Iran and Iraq, but they never realize that the people getting hit by those air strikes are not laughing, they are dying. Clearly, the making of these memes just portrays how some might think that the misfortunes of the Iranian people are not important unless it’s trendy enough to make someone popular on social media.
Nowadays, memes give the ability to navigate through the digital world, and they can play a key role in politics and social values. They can also be a way of participating in current events in the world, as some kind of cultural community. But one has to admit that it isn’t morally right to joke about something when its main target isn’t you. Making memes is how our generation now deals with bigger political issues: by trying to make sense of the uncertainty while trying not to get more anxious about the current issue.
Various people believe that this type of dark humor is a person’s way of “coping,” and others have said that this isn’t our trauma to cope with. But it is very obvious that most of these jokes, mostly coming from developed countries, are not coping mechanisms, these are jokes made by very privileged, narcissistic people that are nowhere near the danger and, clearly, they are just asking for attention from the public; which prompts the question, do people understand what being in war means? There is a big difference between having the privileges of poking fun at the trauma that other people are living through and the actual suffering through the realities of war and being in the line of fire.
In the age of internet, we have a position of power and influence, and instead of sitting back and observing the problems happening around the world, we should take action and help in whatever capacity that we are able to. Instead of tweeting memes about Iran, people could donate to a charity, or just simply share and discuss the news and make people aware of the issues. Every little bit counts and making memes about people’s deaths is definitely not going to work.