I’m more than a little puzzled by the significant lack of any sort of real response on social media today. I woke up to the headlines of Russia rolling into Ukraine, and I’ve been reading the updates as the day has unfolded: attacks on sites across Ukraine, military coming in on three sides of the country, planes and helicopters being shot down, missile strikes being videoed.
A couple of my friends have posted something about these events on Facebook, but by and large my feed is filled with the same memes and chatter that they’re filled with every day. On the one hand, I’m not really expecting the world to stop these days whenever any one thing happens, but there’s a big difference between “unanimous outrage” and “a couple of mentions.” I remember when an event like the attacks in Paris caused everyone and their brother to change their profile picture to the French flag. Now a European country literally is invaded by another, and we’re talking about cat memes?
This isn’t to shame all the people who are posting anything other than outrage, but rather just to question what changed? My guess (and it’s only a guess) boils down to a few things:
- General social media outrage fatigue. Since the election of 2020 and the events of COVID since then, people are just tired of saying anything at all of substance on Facebook. It’s easier to just ignore anything that might be remotely controversial.
- There’s been a slow build up to the invasion. We’ve been hearing for weeks that Russia was likely going to do this, and now (surprise surprise) they actually did. So the shock is missing that comes with an attack out of the blue.
- Americans just aren’t as familiar with/sympathetic to Ukraine. It was behind the Iron Curtain back in the day, and they don’t feel the same connection to it that they feel with more well known countries like Paris. (Speaking as the husband of a Slovak, which shares a border with Ukraine, I am anything but unconcerned about today’s invasion.)
- People are somehow worried about causing a ruckus on Facebook. Yes, you’d think “invading a nation” would be something we can all agree is a bad thing. However, since just a day or two ago, some called Putin’s moves “genius” and “wonderful,” apparently that isn’t a unified sentiment, after all.
When I was growing up, I was fairly convinced we were going to have World War III in the not too distant future. I was worried about being drafted when it happened, and I was worried about nuclear strikes on America. So maybe this resonates with me more than it does with people who didn’t grow up in that environment? I really hope somehow this situation doesn’t deteriorate further, but I’m also not sure simple sanctions are going to do the trick. That’s what happened back with Crimea, and here we are with a worse situation on our hands.
I don’t know. I’m not an expert in geopolitics. All I know is I’m concerned, and I’m worried the seeming lack of concern being voiced by others will only make things worse. Hopefully I’m wrong.
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