The fandomification of global conflict

Ryan Broderick rounded up the internet’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which by the way has exemplified all the ways the internet has broken all of our brains more than anything I’ve seen in the last 20 years.

For the rest of the world experiencing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine via social media, it has been a dizzying mix of incomprehensible horror and extremely dumb posts. As social media manager Moh Kloub tweeted on Wednesday, “Twitter feels especially dystopian on nights like this. Tweets about war mixed in with sports, memes, etc., like it’s all of the same importance. Don’t think we were meant to absorb info like this.” …

… Twitter, usually the center of culture, has now become the center of the war online and Ukraine’s Twitter account has taken the popular phrase “posting through it” and given it a new darker meaning, tweeting updates as the Russian military shells the country’s major cities. One of the account’s most viral tweets yesterday was a cartoon of Hitler caressing Putin’s face, which got a lot of shares from Americans who couldn’t believe Ukraine was “shitposting” amid an invasion, which seemed to prompt the Ukraine account to post a follow up, writing, “This is not a ‘meme’, but our and your reality right now.” …

… Google removed Russia Today, the country’s main propaganda channel, from their ad tools, but their YouTube videos are still very much monetized. Russia Today’s channel has been streaming from Kyiv for days now, all while American brands appear in programmatic ads in front of the channel’s news clips blaming the west for the current crisis in Ukraine. But it’s not just Russia Today that’s streaming Russia’s invasion. Many YouTube channels are and, at least in one case, viewers in the chat keep getting mad that “it” is “taking too long”.

I LOLed at this bit:

The closest we’ve seen to some kind of big response from an American tech platform has been Facebook. The company’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, posted a lengthy thread outlining how the platform was responding to the invasion. Facebook has set up “a Special Operations Center” to “respond in real time.” God, I wish I loved anything as much as Facebook loves setting up content moderation command centers. 

In a long Twitter thread rounding up some of the worst takes, @default_friend aptly called the way many individual social media users are reacting “the fandomification of global conflict.”

Which is really to say: the internet reduces everything — everything — into fandom, whether it’s Fauci memes for or against Covid measures, or RBG memes when something happens at SCOTUS, like we’ve lost the ability to understand anything on its own terms, and can only like it or demand it be purged from the earth.