On the second day of our new decade, an air attack sent by the Pentagon on Baghdad, Iraq resulted in the death of the head of Iran’s Quds Force and member of their Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani, among the other damage. Soleimani’s death resulted in the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning that there would be revenge awaiting those responsible.
Sound familiar? With the death of a leader held in high value by the members of their country and threat of retaliation, the event holds eerie parallels to the beginnings of our first World War, and people are noticing. Members of military and foreign relations groups have spoken on what this attack could mean for the U.S., and it’s less than comforting. Talk of military retaliation and advice for our leaders to be prepared has stirred up speculation among Americans about the possibility of a war — World War III to be specific.
With this possibility on the table, the members of the younger generation have been taking it much differently than in the past. Instead of panicking and fearing this potential global conflict, teens and young adults have chosen to cope using humor throughout social media.
These jokes ranged through a variety of topics involving the idea of war, including fighting on the lines as well as being drafted. For example, Twitter user @RodeoShooter_ on the day after the event tweeted, “yall was sayin ‘2020 finna be a movie’ yea bro American Sniper.” User @stateofgrace66 tweeted, “can i have aux in the tank when we get drafted for WW3.”
With the majority of young users making jokes based on the situation, others have been less than amused with the way teens are responding to the event. Viewing the use of humor as insensitive to Iranians who would be affected by such war, other tweets and posts on social media condemn tweets like those previously mentioned. User @_Zeets on Twitter wrote, “If a potential war and the deaths of countless people is grounds for jokes and memes, then it’s probably time to really examine how much the internet has poisoned your mind and heart.”
This backlash to teens’ responses to potential war raises a question frequently asked in modern day media: Are these jokes insensitive?
Jokes or memes being created specifically on the lines of supporting death or people laughing about what the effects would be are insensitive. They overlook the lives of innocent Iranians who will be permanently changed due to the consequences of war in their country and the deaths of their family and ignore the feelings of Americans with family overseas.
However, the jokes being made and memes getting shared that grew popular are not about the death of others. The majority of things being said do not even mention Iran or death. They just joke about how our generation would be in a battlefieldlike situation or in the event of a war that we collectively made up. There is no actual World War III, and I don’t think that jokes on something that isn’t even occurring should be viewed as insensitive or inappropriate. If a real war were to have been declared due to these events, reaction to the news would have been handled significantly different. If people were actually being sent draft letters and people begin to die, then jokes on the situation would be insensitive.
As of now, the jokes are harmless fun to make light of a horrible idea and possibility. Nothing more, nothing less. Our generation makes jokes of everything, making memes for every event ranging from elections to TV shows and royal weddings to fashion trends, so I don’t see why this is any different for now. If taken too far and the jokes begin to target Iranians and encourage the war starting or the death of people, then that is where the line from joking to being insensitive is crossed. As long as we don’t approach that line, then I say let the generation cope with humor as we have for other events. Laughing about a war that hasn’t been declared helps take away from the fear of it becoming a reality.