Early Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would be carrying out a military operation against Ukraine, shortly after explosions were heard across the country’s capital of Kyiv. Thoughts and prayers for Ukraine flooded timelines across Twitter and Instagram, along with a bizarre video of former 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord, wishing that she had been Putin’s mother because maybe he wouldn’t have started a war if he had been shown more love.
Social media users have never been shy about acting out when it comes to the unfolding of major historical events, and while some try to be “a beacon of hope,” like McCord, others deal with their anxieties through jokes and memes, as they’re doing now with “the start of World War 3.”
On Instagram, popular pages began sharing posts with multiple memes that have captions like “Me showing up to my physical after getting drafted in WWIII” and including a video of a woman saying she’s legally blind.
Some users also began spamming Putin’s Instagram page, calling him “Daddy Putin” or “Vladdy Daddy” and pleading with him to stop the violence. On TikTok, meanwhile, creators quipped in their own ways about being drafted instead of going to college as some tried to help people understand what is even going on. Some women users joked that they aren’t going to war because they “belong in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning.”
Similar jokes spread across social media when Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was assassinated by the United States in 2020. It’s worth noting that the likelihood of a draft is actually very low. As the New York Times pointed out after the assassination, the draft hasn’t been used since it was abolished in 1973 after people opposed fighting in the Vietnam War. “To change that, Congress would have to pass a law reinstating the draft, and the president would have to sign it, actions that would likely require broad political support,” the Times writes.
On Twitter, many users continue to remind people to have a sense of humanity and compassion when it comes to joking about major historical events. “It’s not funny,” one user wrote in a tweet that has gone viral. “[It’s] the heartbreaking and cruel reality of so many people, and all you can do is reduce their fear to jokes that you use to ‘cope’ when you’re not even the ones in danger.”