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World War III or World War Meme?

By Kayla Lupedee

The New Year welcomed rumors of a potential World War III, in which social media eased the angst of our generation with an odd form of therapy: memes and inappropriately timed humor. 

President Donald Trump took the initiative to take down Iran’s most powerful military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. On Thursday, Jan. 2, Soleimani was killed by a drone attack on the Baghdad International Airport, authorized by Trump. Other Iranian leaders ordered revenge on the United States after Iran’s period of mourning. 

The desired revenge promptly sprouted the theory of World War III, in which it was seemingly aware across the country that Trump’s decision may spark a violent wave of consequences across the Middle East. 

 Rather than taking the matter seriously, social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok headed down a different route with the news. Known for humorous content, the users on these apps were not shy in putting out their hilarious ideas during a time of stress and fear for our country. 

Several tweets played into the concept of finding ways to exempt ourselves from being drafted for the war. An unholy amount of drug intake; an unfaltering manifestation of extreme depression and mental instability; the sudden desire to become a fugitive. These typically negative aspects of life had turned into something we could joke about and almost actually strive to achieve, as long as it kept us away from being drafted for the war.  

Women even backtracked on their desires for equal rights, claiming their only purpose was to be a fifties housewife, cooking and cleaning for the men in their lives. You have to think, this is a little excessive and inappropriate for the topic at hand, but it still is kind of funny and ironic concerning the uproar of activism for women’s rights. 

Other tweets followed a storyline of relatable happenings if we were to be drafted for WWIII. Bombs and guns would be misused. Planes and tanks would take part in races and crashes. Women would strut their fashionable army pants and figure-hugging tops on the battlefield as a means of distraction for the enemies. 

Ultimately, the dark humor of our generation popped out. In seeing these tweets and videos, it is almost a natural reaction to laugh about it. Our generation tends to take serious issues and turn them into a joke. It is a sort of protective characteristic—a way to hide our insecurities and fears from the rest of society. 

But, what if humor isn’t always the best, or healthiest, or morally right, way to go about things? We are so accustomed to ease our anxieties and present ourselves as calm and collected, when in reality, we are all terrified. And being scared for WWIII is completely normal. Behind all the jokes are the fears and concerns for our safety, but it is inherently human to ease our angst with humor. 

 There is no harm in making jokes out of our fears. These memes are just a way to cope with the crises that are following us into the new year. They appear to be dismissive, yet they still reflect our emotions. However, among all of the jokes, it is still important to take notice of the solemnity of the situation.

 In making these jokes and enjoying these memes, it seems as though many people are not thinking too deeply about the situation at hand and what this truly means for our country. Social media keeps things moving fairly quickly. There is hardly ever much thought put into liking or retweeting a tweet. We find something funny, we share it to our pages. It’s as simple as that and it does not require extensive attention. 

 However, this concept of WWIII is something that we should be paying more attention to. 

 We may be entering WWIII. For real. Thinking back on history lessons, I am reminded of the turmoil the world faced from the previous world wars. The deaths, the economic failures, the frightening fight for power between countries.

 It is haunting when you think of how real this situation is. Thousands of troops were being deployed to fight in this possible upcoming war. These are real people. People who have parents, kids, siblings, friends and significant others. These men and women are risking their lives for others, and although they are better prepared than anyone else, it is still beyond terrifying to be in their shoes. 

 So, despite the desire to laugh and joke about our generation taking control in WWIII, remember to send love, thanks, and prayers to those serving our country in times of distress and mayhem.

Kayla Lupedee can be reached at Kayla.lupedee@spartans.ut.edu

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