Teen Memes Trivialize True Terror of War


Maggie Doolittle, Staff Writer

#WWIII has become 1 of the top trending hashtags of 2020. #WWIII has over 402,000 posts on Instagram and over 958.2 million views on Tik Tok, as reported by the respective apps. The topic has sparked a rise in memes crafted by internet users about a war between the United States and Iran.

This trend started when the U.S. military killed a high-ranking Iranian military official, Qasem Soleimani. Although tensions are high between the U.S. and Iran, a number of young people seem to think it is source material for comedy. But a conflict that has the potential to spark a world war is nothing to joke about.

Those who think the assassination of a single prominent figure is not be enough to send the world into war are forgetting their history. In 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was a catalyst for World War I.

The death of Soleimani could be to World War III what Ferdinand’s death was to World War I.

While people are busy posting cracks about World War III, Iranians burning U.S. flags with cries of “Death to America!” and more specifically, “Death to Trump!”

The risk of military conflict rises daily, yet the online community continues to make jokes.

In addition, teens are posting memes making light of a new military draft. They seem to forget that one doesn’t need to be drafted into service to face real danger. Civilian deaths are common in times of war.

Over 10 million died in World War 1 and 30 million in World War 2, according to History on the Net. Jokes about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following WWIII or dying in combat, as many actually have in past wars, is in extremely poor taste.

Making light of a potential world conflict only helps to normalize the idea and bring the globe closer to a very real crisis.

Now, following the U.S. military’s attempt on January 3 to take out Iranian General Abdul Shahlai via air strike, as reported by The New York Times, Iran is making additional threats against U.S. embassies.

Our generation is lucky to not have experienced previous conflicts like the Vietnam War. All we really know about these events is what we’ve learned from text books and documentaries in the safety of our classrooms, or from what our grandparents tell us in the comfort of our homes, or perhaps through the romanticized abstractions of film.

There is a safe distance between us and the horrific events of history. It is part of the reason teens have trouble comprehending the true danger that violent conflict between nations poses for every resident of the globe.

While Trump and his policies may be, at times, laughable, the potential for war is no joke.