Friday, January 3, it was not necessarily with the headlines that Internet users discovered the assassination of Iranian General Ghassem Soleimani by the United States. A funny montage, a parody video or a diary presented by a 15-year-old girl could have warned them that something serious was happening: they were all tucked behind a keyword, “WWIII” – for Third World War, or “third world war” in English.
For three days, the hashtags #wwIII and # ww3memes did not leave the US Trends section of Twitter. On TikTok, the popular video application for the youngest Internet users, the keywords # ww3 and #wwIII have more than 1 billion views. For comparison, the hashtag #guesstheplayer (a trendy TikTok game) peaks at 37 million views – and the one dedicated to the new year peaks at 67 million.
A very real concern
Surprise: behind #WWIII hides mostly amused messages, mocking for example the hypothetical implication of France or even Germany in a global conflict. Or messages where users imagine to prepare for the confrontation as one prepares a part of Call of duty, of Minecraft or other popular video games.
Commanding Officer: Where we dropping boys?
“Commander: where do we guys land?” ” : reference to the classical beginning of part of Fortnite.
Although humorous, the content of these messages sometimes conceals real anxiety, which some clearly confess. The New york times underlines, in an article on the subject published on January 5, that if the generation of the under-18s, born after September 11, has always lived with war as a backdrop, the threat of the explosion of a new conflict has never seemed so tangible to her.
In another article, the American daily also reports that young Americans are worried about whether, in the event of a conflict, they risk being recruited to go to the front. To the point of saturating one of the official government websites on the subject.
On Twitter, Instagram and especially TikTok, many of them mock the possibility of finding themselves enlisted, and imagine how poor soldiers they would be if draft (the process of selection of young people by the American army in the event of conflict).
Me meeting my homies in prison after we all refused the draft for WWIII https://t.co/VmV2gbbgT2
“Me finding my friends in prison after refusing to go and fight for the third world war. “
Especially popular: humorous tips from users to avoid conscription (for young women, this is often hurry to get pregnant) or to cross the border into Mexico, despite the wall that Donald Trump is building.
If many laugh at these memes or congratulate themselves that they can bring people together, others among the young users of these social networks are annoyed by this repetitive humor, but also by a mockery that they call cynical.
The privilege that Americans have to post WW3 memes while the actual people who will be suffering (Iraqis and Irani… https://t.co/f24nvHc8Wc
“The Americans are posting memes about the third world war, and we’ll be talking a fortnight about the people who will really suffer, the Iraqis and the Iranians, before forgetting about them. I hate you all. “
Even on TikTok, a platform whose operation encourages diversion and parody, it's not all about humor. Some, like @cliatic, dismantle the excitement of internet users with historical fact checks, while Daisy, alias @hijackplane, 15, made a lot of noise and more than 700,000 “likes” thanks to a TV mini-newspaper, improvised with the sound microphone iPhone and news from the Reuters news agency.
Since then, she has started reporting on fires in Australia, and is now followed by 72,000 people, just four times less than the Washington Post.