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Freshly into the new year, CHS students woke up with a renewed sense of purpose, ready to start the new year.
However, on January 3 president Donald Trump took military action against the Islamic Republic of Iran killing military leader Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike. While many adults felt a strange mix of existential dread and exhaustion, teens seemed to react in a different way. Like everything Gen Z does, reactions to the event, both positive and negative, (but mostly negative), were expressed through memes.
“When I first heard the news I was extremely scared that we would actually go to war, so I thought the memes were really funny,” said sophomore Lauryn Ndongmo. “I’m sure not everything in the memes was accurate, but they really helped because I love to laugh when I’m stressed or uncomfortable.”
This was a common sentiment among students. The prospect of a world-altering war is something that many students find hard to cope with or even understand. Even teachers couldn’t help but notice that the topic seemed to be gaining popularity in the days following.
“Two of my students were discussing their plans to dodge the draft, they said ‘no one would look for them in iran’” said APPS head Rachel Clements. “I’m usually a big fan of memes but I never really got into these.”
Some students were not as happy about the memes. One complaint was that some of the memes trivialized the situation or failed to recognize the perspective of those directly affected.
“Like most people, I was extremely shocked by the attack. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and so like with most of my problems, at first, memes helped me cope,” said senior Rebecca Sofon. “However, I started to see more and more memes that downright dehumanized the people in Iran. I felt like when we just view the conflict through memes, we fail to recognize the fact that there are really people living in these areas that would be directly affected by the conflict if war broke out”.
Regardless of opinion, it is clear that memes have become a deeply entrenched part of the way teens think and are used as a coping mechanism by all. They can also serve as a good reminder of how easy it is to escalate into a state of war.