Open either Instagram or Twitter, one thing that remains constant is the running commentary on the Russia- Ukraine war; and more than words, it is memes that are speaking.

Dark humour or dark comedy is a style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss. In this modern age where social media occupies our every living and breathing moment, it would be completely absurd to think that dark humour doesn’t leave its footprints in the social media world. Every time the world is going through a crisis or a tragedy, it feels like someone goes ahead and shouts “Social media assemble”, flooding everything— from Instagram to TikTok (or its counterparts in the case of India), Facebook to Twitter— with tweets, posts, and stories.


Everyone, ranging from the common people to official accounts of nations, end up jumping on this bandwagon, trying to put forward their own point of views and critiques. But more often than not, this ends up taking the form of internet’s most common currency of conversation, memes. Memes about World War 3, about being drafted for the war, about the inaction on the part of NATO and the UN, all ended up making rounds in the recent past. Some of them are still being reshared, while new memes keep coming up every hour of every day.



These memes tend to usually (always) carry an underlying tone of humour— a sort of romanticisation of tragedy and misery, maybe even a humanisation of these atrocities.

But does this joke-making and meme-sharing indicate a general apathy amongst the people of the world? Or does it only point towards a “Gen-Z urge” to use humour as a coping mechanism?


(Part of the meme response is about) glorifying the war for sure, but also not realising what war really is and what it means. So, dealing with in a laissez-faire kind of way.”

Says Dr. Saleem Alhabash, a professor at the media psychology department, Michigan State University.


The world of social media comes with pros of its own, one of the most obvious being that there is barely any consequence to your actions. This means that people from around the world get a green card to give out their opinions (and not necessarily opinions that are empathetic or even sympathetic, or opinions that are put forward in an acceptable way), leaving social media to become a space that is shadowed and claw-marked by a general dehumanisation of humanity, something that rarely gets appreciated by those living the reality you end up making jokes about.


In all this conversation about making dark humour and using humour as a coping mechanism okay, there is one clear unsaid understanding, a clear demarcation, that making jokes on a tragedy is only acceptable when these jokes are made by someone who actually has the right and authority to do so (morally-speaking). Thus, the so-called “gallows humour” only works if you are the person facing the gallows; otherwise, it is just a callous and pathetic attempt to infringe and capitalise (in the form of fame) on someone else’s misery.


But maybe this indifference is not even indifference in its truest form; maybe it is just an outcome of the constant influx of information on social media and our constant scrolling, that we never get the chance to sit, stop, and actually listen. To pull at our heartstrings, anything needs a moment; social media just doesn’t let it have one.

So, does that mean that “crisis meme-making” is an embodiment of all things evil? Not really. Although these memes are a creation of the people, they are also just a reflection of reality (to some extent atleast). 

So, when we look at how ubiquitous these memes are in the modern world, we also need to consider how they might just be the reflection of a common identity, fear, or anxiety; how they might just be creating a world community; how they might just be threading together all these numerous different lives, leaving none of us to feel alone.


Read also ‘Doomscrolling: The Addiction of the 2020s


Feature Image Credits: Digital TV Europe


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]

Do you also get your daily news from Twitter? Was the last time you opened and actually read a newspaper never? Then this journalism is for you.

“Russia invaded Ukraine”, you said, after getting an afternoon update on your phone. Scrolling, you could see notifications coming in from various news apps and digital platforms. You could feel the urgency behind these; the need to be the first one to cover it, the one that takes on a different angle. 


In the 21st century, when our eyes are glued to our screens and our hands to our phones, traditional forms of journalism have been, slowly but steadily, losing relevance. While many of those in the older generations would still rather read the news fresh off the press, waiting for it at its designated daily time and savouring it like a meal, a majority of the younger audience prefers to consume news in the form of bite-sized snacks— considerably low effort and easy on their time.

Social media journalism has been called the fifth pillar of society, just after the traditional mass media which is considered the fourth pillar. Putting this into perspective, in a country where almost 60% of the population lives in poverty (UNU study), we see that 68% of the total population ends up consuming news through their smartphones (TOI article based on Reuters report). This creates an incessant (and almost crazy) need for journalists to be on their toes all the time— to grab news leads as soon as they come onto the social media space, to update ongoing stories, and to be the “winner” in this race of social media journalism. Going beyond the ambit of honesty and reality, this fast service journalism comes with its own fallacies. With WhatsApp forwards being an up and coming “news house”, it sometimes feels as if rationality gets thrown out a window. Put into this mix the rightly-placed notion of “too many cooks spoil the food”— with anyone and everyone having a platform to voice their opinions, which, more often than not, are partially-informed and poorly analysed hearsay-bearing gossip- news and sources get diluted to their best.

Disinformation is worse than misinformation, Disinformation is purposeful misinformation,” an article from Youth Ki Awaaz

Last year, media houses like Tatva India and Yuvadope ended up publishing false news pieces about communal unrest and post-poll violence in Bengal. Does this mean that a race to be the first justifies such infringement upon the truth? Does it entail that a paucity of time needs to be accompanied by a paucity of integrity?


But nothing is all good or all bad. Social media journalism goes hand-in-hand with citizen journalism, enabling stories from across the world to find a voice free from state control (except in cases when the state has banned the internet itself). It ends up giving a platform to journalism, to step out of the shadows of money and political power, to be a channel of the people, by the people, and for the people, and to sometimes truly be what it is meant to be— the plain and simple truth.


Feature Image: theatlantic.com


Manasvi Kadian

[email protected]