Iranian conflict part two: behind-the-memes

Upon the first few days of the new year, students awoke to news about rising conflicts between the United States and Iran. On Jan. 3, 2020, Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani of the Revolutionary Guard Corps was found deceased due to the strike of a United States drone near the Baghdad International Airport. Immediately, memes flooded media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Tik-Tok relating to the conflicts.
Although the cause of the flood of memes is unknown, sophomore Madeline Duncan infers that Generation Z, the generation of those born between 1997 and 2012, are using these memes as a sort of defense mechanism. Instead of facing their fears of a potential war head on, Gen Z is using memes and jokes to distract themselves from the scary truth.
“I’m definitely aware of all the memes concerning the conflicts between the United States and Iran. I think that Gen Z definitely uses the memes as a coping mechanism but I think we should also focus on the problem, not just the jokes,” sophomore Madeline Duncan said. “I think that everyone should stay up to date and keep up with the news and just make sure you know what’s happening before you make jokes about it.”
English teacher Lisa Shear is no stranger to the memes surrounding the conflicts between America and Iran. Shear says although her students have informed her about the World War III memes, she hasn’t seen them herself. Shear says that teenagers are probably making a joke out of the serious conflicts because it’s just the language that teenagers speak.
“They use humor and particularly dark humor, because it’s a lot to be confronted with something that might be serious, so it’s a way to try and cope with world events that might otherwise be scary. I would say the same thing happened when we were in a nuclear missile scare with North Korea a couple years ago,” Shear said.
One popular subject of these memes is a possible draft issued in relation to a possible “World War III.” The dilemma presents itself of whether or not both women and men should be drafted in the war. Some posts express that gender equality means women should be drafted as well. Many social media platforms are being used to poke fun at the potential draft.
“Memes just kind of happen,” junior Dawson Ellette said. “I think for some people, memes can be used as a defense mechanism but it kind of just depends, because a lot of people are just joking around but some of them might actually be scared. It just depends on the person.”
Although the issues are scary, Shear doesn’t believe that the issues with Iran are as serious as the issues America faces with other countries. Shear believes the conflicts that have occurred in the past few weeks have been eye opening for teenagers. Shear said most teens were not aware of the issues with Iran that have been happening for almost 40 years.
“I think the fact that something scarily exciting happened and people are getting informed is probably a good thing, in the long term I don’t think that what happens within the borders of Iran is going to determine what happens between them and us, more than anything that President Trump does currently.” Shear said.