Staff Editorial: Internet Hyperbole makes reality less scary
If you don’t know who Quasem Solimini is, you’re probably wrong. To put it another way, his death sparked World War III and the reinstatement of the draft in America.
Well, just the talk about it.
After President Trump ordered an airstrike that killed the Iranian leader, we responded the best way we know how: memes. Jokes about dodging the draft and messing around on the battlefield dominated the internet at the start of this decade.
This digital wildfire of trending tweets and Tiktoks illustrated a common theme: no one wants (or knows how) to fight in a war.
Of course, this doesn’t represent all of us. There is bias already present when you take your sample of teenagers from those who enjoy the dark humor of going to war. There are kids everywhere on the spectrum of the morality or necessity of the U.S.-Iran conflict. But as these things usually go, we only notice those that are the most outspoken or, in this case, the funniest.
In this way, the internet is convenient. We don’t even have to actively search for the information we want. Life happens to us. Notifications pop up on our phone, new posts on our feed.
We all know about the Iran situation by default, by means of the bridge from relevant news to the type of stuff we will find funny that day. But we only know what we’ve been given. All we need is the aesthetic of a situation, like the death of a foreign leader, and we will take it from there.
It’s much easier to laugh about someone dancing to the famous Tik Tok sound byte Renegade instead of throwing grenades on the front line than to face what’s really happening, because it’s a lot more complex — and a lot less entertaining.
We all know (hopefully) that there won’t be a draft or that global warfare isn’t imminent. Otherwise, everything under the tag World War III would be distasteful rather than amusing. But by blowing everything out of proportion, we can comfortably live in the fact that what we joke about will never actually happen.
Living in a hyperbolized version of the real world may be okay when the problems affect us personally, but for most of us, this joke is just another subject in the internet humor cycle.
The truth is that thousands of troops have already been sent over to soothe the burns of our actions. The people that will suffer (or already have) will be the innocent Iranians subject to any sort of invasion or attack by the U.S. If there were to be a war between Iran and the U.S., it would be messy and highly controversial and go far beyond the scope of the internet’s ability to manipulate humor and news.
Many have cited this trend of dark humor linked to Generation Z as a coping mechanism for obstacles occurring in our personal lives, against the landscape of the real world. Obviously, as a side effect, there were some very real concerns, particularly after teenagers received fake text messages about getting drafted. And with the sensationalism of the whole event, there is an anxious energy about the immediate problem, and the idea of war in general. But it’s also about something much deeper.
To digest that, we would have to look beyond what we’re being told, past the accepted narrative that our generation has conveniently chosen to fit the social media format. Sometimes, this specific consumption of what’s going on isn’t just a coping mechanism. It’s an excuse; an easy way out.
Once the realities become too close for comfort, maybe we will react differently. But for now, we’ve already seen what has happened. The jokes got old, something fresh came along, and even though the conflict has just begun, most of us have moved on.