How memes inform
The invasion of Ukraine brings social media memes under fire.
Teenagers and people of our generation have not only grown up with social media and a constant connection to the outside world, but we have created a need to know and understand everything that is happening around us at all times. Whether it’s Covid-19 related, political election based or even international conflicts, such as Russia and Ukraine, teenagers are bound to hear about newsworthy events through social media and more often than not, memes.
Even though social media is not always correct and is often biased, a survey from Common Sense revealed that 54% of teens get their news at least a few times a week from social media sources such as instagram, twitter, or Facebook. TikTok has become a commonplace for teenagers alike to post and share videos or memes related to, and often joking about, serious issues.
While this can be seen as insensitive and unhelpful, some have found that they create a safe space and a coping mechanism for many kids and teenagers. Jamie Withorne, a research assistant at the Middlebury Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies, claims that memes can “provide a sense of comfort” for situations that are not so familiar or known.
Right now, tensions are mounting with the idea of an upcoming “World War III” in relation to Russia and Ukraine. When I, like many, started seeing memes on TikTok about people getting drafted, people convincing Vladmir Putin not to go on and other themes like that, I started to wonder what the joke was about.
I went online to various trusted news sources and decided to learn more about this very serious topic that everyone my age was learning about. Because of these jokes, I not only feel informed about this topic, but I also feel relatively more safe than before, knowing exactly what is happening and being able to talk about it with my friends. Our generation has seen a rise in activists and people who are willing to make a difference in the world. Social media is often seen as a poison or something bad in our society but in actuality, it can be quite informative and helpful to a generation who has never known anything else.