(Featured photo: Valeria Angulo shows her concern about the Russia-Ukraine conflict on social media – Photo by Ian Torres)
I can guarantee that when you open your favorite social media app, you have come across news, videos, photos, or information about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. But having access to this information has not always been that easy.
In the 20th century, we waited days, weeks, and even months to be informed about the news or events that impacted the world. Little by little, technology has been advancing, making it very easy to find any information in just one search.
“There is so much information coming across, and how we are able to experience that is so much faster and so much more available to us,” Dr. David Zeoli, coordinator of broadcasting at OCCC, said.
Zeoli has extensive experience in the area of communications, including social media.
“Today, we can see the results of a bomb dropping 5 minutes after it happens thru Instagram,” explaining the speed and effectiveness of social media in our world.
Social media plays an absolute part in this conflict, especially in Zeoli’s words.
Users through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have shown shocking images that amplify first-hand information, similar to an invisible window.
“Zelenskyy has used it more on the international side of things trying to get people. Everything from getting fighters to come to his country to get the word out about what’s happening, get valid information, lobby or pressure countries to help come to their aid,” said Zeoli about how Zelenskyy’s Ukraine has used social media to their advantage.
Zelenskyy has undoubtedly used his platform on Twitter to send a message to Ukrainian supporters in the fight for freedom.
He has also used his platform to let Vladimir Puttin know directly that Ukraine will not sit by and watch their country getting destroyed.
On the other hand, Vladimir Puttin likewise takes advantage of social media platforms to influence his agenda.
We have seen how the Kremlin has prohibited access to social networks to its citizens, such as Instagram and Facebook, which have enormous influence over images that give direct access to this horrible conflict.
“Russia is definitely a more closed system and doing things like trying to shut down different kinds of communication…It brings us to that problem of subjectivity,” Zeoli said.
Disinformation and propaganda distort the message without a doubt. But, is there such a thing as too much information, and can it distort the message?
“I think sometimes when we have so much access to so much information, it can have this desensitizing effect,” said Zeoli, meaning it can mean viewers are less likely to feel shocked or distressed at scenes of cruelty or suffering from overexposure to such images.
International student Reigneth Oguni said she didn’t keep up with the news on the conflict.
“I just don’t feel there is anything I can do, and I feel like in the last two years, there has been too much of the things we can’t do anything about, and it is starting to feel like nothing matters, and I don’t like that feeling,” Oguni told the Pioneer.
Although the images and videos of the massacres that are happening have a purpose, we are walking a very blurred line between being able to feel that it is real.
“The way we learn the copy of something becomes our reality,” said Zeoli, on why sometimes when we watch a video of a corpse or violence, we detach our feelings and question if it’s real.
Today we have many streaming platforms that have access to many media that may include gore or violent images, making this conflict feel like a movie.
Also, not helping this case, social media does a great job of blurring our reality sometimes. In a world of likes and comments and what is “socially acceptable,” we tend to forget about the ones on the receiving end of this war.
Some social media campaigns have suggested that Russians “should be visibly marked, maybe with a Red Star.”
Adding also to the tensions between the Russian population, which many agree this conflict should stop.
“When we get frustrated, we want easy answers, so we look to the category rather than actually trying to say, ok…I need to stop. I need to reflect rather than react,” said Zeoli.
The use of social media will continue to impact the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and maybe it will play a more significant role in the future.