OPINION: To my generation, the memes about Ukraine need to stop



A mother embraces her son who escaped the besieged city of Mariupol and arrived at the train station in Lviv, western Ukraine on Sunday, March 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Opinions expressed in the Op/Ed section of The Knight Crier are not necessarily reflective of the views of the entire staff of the KC.

It has been four weeks since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the world has seen surging gas prices, an unstable economy, a new refugee crisis… and memes about war.

Although I believe that this was predictable, I also believe that this is not something we need to continue. Instead of showing compassion and empathy, we let our generation post memes online. These memes have taken over the internet and are marked by macabre imagery and concerning jokes that merely make fun of the situation.

This needs to stop. This war is not something that could happen: it is the reality of our current world. The insensitivity to war is distasteful and unacceptable. People are fleeing; people are losing their homes; people are losing family or are themselves, dying. This is a time of crisis, not a time for humor.

Our generation is sometimes desensitized to what is going on in the world around us, especially when it comes to international affairs. When you open apps like Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram and go to the “for you” or “explore” pages, you’ll often find memes about the people who are suffering the most. I’ve seen videos of skeletons dancing where the text reads “Europeans after we get nuked by Russians,” videos with explosions that simply poke fun at the situation, and comments that read “smile for the history books,” and “first war, what should I wear,” all of which just scratches the surface of our generation’s war memes.

I understand that completely understanding the situation is hard. As Americans, we do not get to see large-scale events like this often. But before you call these memes “just a joke and nothing more,” I want you to consider a few things. Consider that we live in a country that hasn’t been under war. Consider that we wake up and do not have to worry about imminent death. Consider that the lives of our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers- nearly everyone you know- are safe and away from war. Consider your situation and compare it to those in Ukraine. I am not asking you to feel bad for the lifestyle you have, I am asking you to be more empathetic to those living in Ukraine.

Though we cannot call our country perfect, we have never experienced war. To us, it is an incomprehensible and abstract thought. But you have to realize that what may not be seen in our cities and our towns, these bleak attacks on innocent people is the reality of our current world. Some might view the memes as a coping mechanism, but for the Ukrainians, this humor is disturbing and inhumane. I do not think you’d want our generation to be remembered for being inhumane.

We don’t need to know everything that is happening every second. We don’t even need to know what exactly is happening every single day. But we do need to know the difference between not understanding and being heartless. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to put yourselves in the shoes of Ukrainians and realize that their lives are terrifying. However, here are a few things you should make note of.

According to the United Nations, at least 780 civilians have died, at least 1150 civilians are injured, and over 3 million have fled into neighboring countries. In 2022, the United States has committed $54 million in humanitarian assistance and an additional $350 million in security assistance. These numbers are obvious concerns for alarm and obvious signs that the jokes need to stop.

It is a privilege to have the ability to post online from the comfort of our homes, so let’s use that to focus on the facts of the situation. Please do not use this situation as a time to have a quick laugh. Use this time to understand that a lot is going on in our world today.