After the news that Qassim Soleimani was killed on Friday, January 3 by an airstrike authorized by President Trump, WWIII trended on twitter immediately. The fear of a draft fueled the memes, not just on Twitter, but on other social platforms such as TikTok. Iran’s U.N. ambassadors called the killing of Suleimani’s “an act of war,” vowing “revenge, a harsh revenge.”
Through all the confusion on Twitter and Tiktok, the hashtag #WWIII trended and the majority of the posts were centered around a possible draft. Gen Z and millennial females joked about pulling a reverse card on equal rights and made fun of the outcome of sending teens and young adults, who only care about the steps to renegade, to war.
Of course, the draft wasn’t actually happening, and neither was the war, but that didn’t stop us from creating a variety of memes surrounding the idea. The memes ranged from people depicting the way celebrities would act at the battlefield through videos, to people joking about how they will avoid getting drafted, like getting pregnant before the draft, disguising themselves as an animal or lying about their age.
Although people were laughing about the memes shared, people were actually anxious and scared of the possibility of a war. One of my friends texted me scared, saying that she was confused about whether there was actually going to be a draft and war.
Obviously there were people who didn’t agree with the way the internet started making jokes about something as serious as a war, but jokes about World War III have been circulating the internet for years. The older generation didn't take these jokes lightly, however, because most of them have experienced war first hand. Despite the upbeat tone, and almost excited about the prospect of war expressed through the various TikTok videos, people weren’t actually excited for war. Everyone kind of jumped on the trend because it was what was trending and accumulating thousands of likes. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously; it’s just teenagers making jokes about something they barely know, and not taking into account how all this will affect innocent people in the Middle East. I don't think they meant to romanticize war nor mean any harm.
Now it’s easy to spread information in just seconds due to social media, and it’s really hard to decipher what is or isn’t a fact. We should definitely take everything on the internet with a grain of salt, especially if it’s not fact-checked, do our own research on the topic or ask the adults around us to get clarification.
At the end of the day memes die out and something else gets picked up. The topic of war was taken to the same amount of seriousness as that of a celebrity breakup, it accumulated attention for around 2-3 days and now everyone has moved onto the next trend. Now no one is talking about a world war, it's almost as if it never happened. The real question is if an actual announcement of a world war were to drop, would we be ready and would the internet handle it the same?