How memes provide comedic relief in times of conflict
When a war with Iran suddenly seemed imminent in early January, the people of the Internet reacted the only way they knew how—they made memes. The memes, whatever you think of them, helped people approach a difficult discussion through humor.
President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3. When Iran retaliated by attacking United States Army bases in Iraq with missiles, talk of World War III went on the rise.
Many of the resultant memes revolved around the idea of men between the ages of 18-26 getting drafted to go to war.
If the United States did go to war, there is a possibility that a draft could take place. In World War II, about 20% of men were drafted.
While serving in the United States military has been voluntarily since 1973, an act of Congress could call for a draft. Male U.S. citizens between the ages of 18-26 and immigrants who are living in the U.S. still must register for the Selective Service System.
Of course, no one wants to think about a draft. Instead, people address the issue through jokes. This might not be ideal, but at least people are talking about it.
Should we joke about the hundreds of thousands of people who might die going to war? No, but we should be talking about it and this is a start.
The memes could even be deemed as parody news. From what I learned in a parody news class last semester, people use humor to talk about serious topics without making them sound as serious, so that people can digest what’s going on. Parody news is often described as taking real subjects and making a joke out of them to get people laughing and thinking.
The draft memes ranged from how women were going to try to get out of the war by being a housewife, to men offing themselves before they got drafted, to how to distract Iranian soldiers so your friends can get away. There were even meta memes about these memes that went something like, “Me laughing at war memes even though it’s probably going to happen.”
Memes are as prevalent as ever. There seems to be a meme regarding every aspect of this possible war, and for almost every bit of modern life. If it makes news, the memes will follow. Everyday on social media you see memes regarding the upcoming presidential election, climate change, health care and more.
Often times, I see memes about current events before I even see news coverage. I found myself laughing at the memes about WWIII before I even knew what was actually going on. When I saw the memes, I decided to research why people were saying we were going to war. The memes were my first point of contact on the events with Iran—they informed me.
Using humor and memes to talk about what’s going on in the world isn’t a bad thing. Choosing to only laugh and failing to educate yourself on the issue you’re laughing at is where people go wrong. The problem isn’t on the people making the memes. It’s on the audience failing to educate themselves and do more with a meme than laugh.