Did you take our advice? Have you been keeping up with the news?
If you have, you know that Russia began a large-scale military attack on Ukraine last Thursday, Feb. 24, after orders were sent out by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian troops began crossing into the ex-Soviet nation, firing missiles on several areas near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government. Since then, as anyone would imagine, havoc has ensued.
A day before the invasion, Ukraine declared a 30-day state of emergency after cyber attacks knocked out government institutions. Following the initial attacks, martial law was instated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is calling on the rest of the world to “stop Putin.”
Never before have we as Lehigh students, or any of our peers and even parents, experienced something like this in our lifetime. As of last week, we are living during the largest conventional European war since World War II.
With the rise of social media in the “Information Age,” platform users are seeing close to real-time videos and images from Ukraine as missiles hit cities, citizens flee for safety, soldiers prepare for war and adults and children die. Take that weight in for a moment.
In the past, we have never had such open access to intimate details at such a devastating time.
While some may argue that such access leads to a greater understanding of the situation, it also results in desensitization. As we see these videos and images so often online, we unconsciously begin to scroll past them for the sake of finding something “more entertaining.”
Although many viewers comment their well wishes for Ukraine, memes joking about World War III or a draft are not rare.
Keep in mind that this war is real. And it’s affecting real peoples’ lives. Behind every joke is a reality in which real people are being displaced from their homes and losing their lives or loved ones.
Just because we’re seeing it play out on our entertainment platforms doesn’t make it any less of a reality. Just because you laugh doesn’t mean it’s funny—it’s because you’re safe and comfortable in a country where it may not be a direct problem for you.
Along with the satirical social media content, TikToks have also been circulating in which users explain the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in an attempt to make the information less complicated and more digestible.
While this is helpful, the reliability of these sources cannot be taken for granted. The mass amateurization that has sprouted from social media allows anyone and everyone to try out reporting.
However, these aren’t trained journalists and we should keep that in mind while listening to their words. Although many of us rely on Twitter, TikTok and other social media platforms for takes on current events, remember that misinformation is shockingly common.
It’s important to double check the information you see online before believing it. Read articles from credible news sources. And then cross check those sources with other news outlets. Remember when we asked you, “Where do you get your news?” Well, now we also ask that you be mindful of the information you repost and share.
Additionally, while many people our age were shocked at the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, should we really have been? News of such possible events have been in the media for weeks. U.S. President Joe Biden revealed intelligence in real time. Yet, people remain confused. This is why it’s important that we stay informed.
We’ll be honest: We are still only college students. We don’t have any background in military policy. We can’t truly understand what Ukrainians are experiencing.
But, we acknowledge the significance of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and we encourage those of you in the U.S. to stay informed on this issue, as well as what led up to it and what it could lead to in the future.
For resources to help Ukraine, visit NPR.