Threat of WWIII leads to fear, memes

Taylor Ann Hartley, Online-Editor-in-Chief

The night of Jan. 2 and the morning of Jan. 3 news broke of a US airstrike in Iran that killed an Iranian general, leaving many Americans to fear the possibility of war. In response to this, Twitter and other popular social media sites erupted with the hashtags “WorldWarThree,” “WWIII,” and “IranWar,” among other variations. On the popular app TikTok, the hashtags “WWIII” and “WW3” have been viewed more than 1.6 billion times

 Many of these tweets are known as “memes,” which is typically an image paired with a humorous caption related to popular culture. Memes have defined the way the current generation processes and talk about current events. Rather than discussing happenings, this generation takes to the internet to make light of the darkest of situations.

Today, before one can visualize the worst, social media has done it for them. It only took one joke about a draft, and now some teens fear being drafted for a war that has not begun. These posts primarily come from the older members of Generation Z, which is ages 18-25.

The focal point of many of these memes is being “drafted’ into the war. Although being a part of the armed forces has been a voluntary service since Jan. 27, 1973, many teenagers use this as the punchline to their joke.

Many Twitter users state that they use these memes as a coping mechanism to the stressful situation. These memes are simply the way the current generation deals with nuclear anxiety. It looks different than how generations before did, and our reaction to war will continue to evolve in future generations. 

“When anything bad happens, we just make a meme of it,” said Scarlett Acosta, 21, who helps run the satirical Twitter account “UrFavIsDrafted” according to NBC news.

Some of these memes are a much-needed break from the tension created by a nuclear threat, but others simply heighten the tension. Issues such as gender, gender identity, mental health, immigration, and LGBTQ rights have been called into question through these social media posts. 

James Charles came under fire when he posted a series of photos of him dressed in a wig and dresses accompanied by the caption “me when the government comes knocking on my door for the draft.” He was quickly criticized for making light of the struggles a trans woman goes through for a Twitter post.

“The memes are unrealistic, which makes them funnier, but I’m scared for a war to actually happen,” said senior Grace Haselden.

Controversial or funny, these posts reveal an important truth about Gen Z: they do not want a war.