When you get on any form of social media nowadays, you normally come face-to-face with hundreds of memes. Many college students find pleasure in looking at memes on the internet during their free time.
They are jokes we can laugh at, and they help us relate with one another. However, they also bring to light the problems currently plaguing our society, especially ones relating to a lack of empathy in violence and war.
Most people have seen memes about World War III recently. After the United States launched an airstrike on Iran a few weeks ago, people seemingly used memes as a form of coping.
There have been ones about people finding ways out of being drafted, as well as ones depicting what people will do during and after the war. With all the current problems in the world--from climate change to worldly affairs--what else can people do except make memes about the world in front of them? Fighting violence and war with humor seems to be a good coping mechanism for many people.
It also highlights a problem in our society.
People seem to forget that people in other parts of the world will likely die because of the conflict between the United States and Iran. The United States is a very individualistic country, so many people tend to think for themselves when they hear about violence, but this conflict will most likely never reach American soil. The use of memes exemplifies the self-centered nature of many Americans.
While people could be drafted, the United States military already has 1.3 million active-duty troops and 865 million reserve troops. The only two countries with larger active-duty troops are China and India, but they also have quadruple the amount of people than the United States. Iran only has 500,000 active-duty military troops. Unless the war exceeded dramatic scales, American adults would not be drafted for war.
People in Iran will still continue to die from this conflict even if we hear nothing about it. Throughout the Iraq War, we saw events in the news and then continued to ignore the atrocities happening halfway across the world. The use of social media has brought other global atrocities to light, such as those in Hong Kong and Australia. However, the use of memes also exemplifies desensitization from violence and death.
When you joke about a tragic event, you forget that there are people living through it.
This is also the problem that we often see in bullying. Bullies attack their victims with derogatory jokes. As humans, we tend to go along with the person in power due to a herd mentality. We think, "if I stand out from the rest, will I be attacked next?" That mentality provides memes on a platform with nobody to stand up against them. If you do, then people reply with things like, “it’s just a joke,” or, “don’t take it so seriously.” You just watch from afar and often forget that people are suffering.
We need to realize that people around the world are living through this. Thus, we should not joke about it.
It may seem like a coping method to you, it might even seem funny at the time, but it also prevents you from empathizing with people who are struggling.
Think about it, what if one day, you were in the same situation and wondering, “will anybody ever come to help me?” If we continue to desensitize ourselves with memes, the answer is no.
Savannah Glaves is a sophomore from Easton studying East Asian languages and cultures.