The dystopia of war

That a war is a dystopian situation is something we can agree on without the need to have lived in first person that traumatic experience. War is the opposite of normal life, and the chain of "abnormal" events that occur in them proves it. However distant they may seem to us, sometimes a disruptive event occurs, breaking the harmony of reality, and suddenly from one day to the next we already have them installed there. With the current war in Ukraine, we are seeing images from movies and not only from war. The 2009 film The Road , directed by John Hillcoat and based on the dystopian novel by the American Cormac McCarthy, narrates the journey of a father and his son through the immensity of a devastated and abandoned landscape, literally scorched by what looks like a nuclear holocaust, trying to get him to safety from all dangers. A scenario seemingly far removed from everyday life, but for a Ukrainian family forced to take refuge outside their country, this image may be farther from an allegory than the present reality they are living.

On the other side, from the comfort of our living room, we incessantly share memes about the war, about Russia, or about the shortage of products and the rise in price of others that the conflict is causing. At an astonishing speed and frivolity, as much as fiber optics and 5G allow, without taking into account that some of these jokes may reach them. It is undoubtedly a curious world we are living in, in which until now the war used to be in the format of newspapers, radios and televisions. Now we are in another technological phase, and we all carry in our hands a constant receiver and transmitter of information. From there, the networks continue to be used to denounce what is happening, and a new generation is doing so, but with the language of the adolescents or young people of their time, with the same keys of acid, critical and postmodern humor.

One example is that of the young 20-year-old tiktoker @Valerisssh (Valeria), who from Chernobyl retrher vision of war as a denunciation to the world, but also as a therapy for the horror of war.but also as therapy in the face of the horror experienced. A photographer by profession, she recounts the tragedy of buildings destroyed by bombing, streets deserted of people and underground bunkers full of people. Contrary to what it may seem, her narration does not have a dramatic tone, but an amusing one. With the language of his generation, using music, filters and all kinds of jokes, yes, loaded with an abundant dose of sarcasm, which mimic the most trending videos on this platform. He already has almost half a million followers and his publications have more than 14 million "likes", with viral videos with 29 million reproductions in just a few days. Videos with titles like "You live in Ukraine and pray every day that your apartment is not destroyed by a Russian bomb" with Daft Punk music in the background, "Typical day in Ukraine" where he appears running down the street while making the sign "everything is correct" with his hands in an ironic way, or others where he jokes that Putin is reforming the city and thanks him. There is no imposture, it is his way of expressing himself and that of a whole generation. It is his way of continuing his "normality", making videos in the same streets where he used to make them a month ago in a normal way. Only the situation has changed. His case is not isolated. This may be the war of the social media wars.

If until a few decades ago, wars and their chronicle were matters reserved for governments, which gave their biased, partial or directly manipulated information of the facts, in the form of propaganda, and only the courageous work of correspondents on the street, could shed some light on the truth, which as in the phrase attributed to U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson in 1917, in the context of World War I, is the first victim when war comes.

Since we have mobile smartphones capable of recording photographs and videos and sending them instantly, or even streaming in real time, anyone can act as a witness, with much more credibility than some media, bent to the financial interests of their owners. The truth has more cracks through which to flow, but at the same time, there is the paradox that in the war where we should be more informed, due to the technological means available to us today, is at the same time where disinformation and Fake New' is prevailing the most.

In the professional journalistic media, which should be the guarantors of truthful and contrasted information, images that occurred years ago and not only in the same area, but in different latitudes, are being passed off as current. Moreover, the explosions of an industrial accident in China a few years ago were passed off as a Russian bombing, and even images belonging to a video game (War Thunder) appeared while the presenter said that it was a Russian plane bombing a city and the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses shot it down.

I understand that readers are mature enough to assume that this is not about any whitewashing or justification of the real atrocities that are indeed happening. It is a plea for the truth and transparency that we deserve as citizens of this place called the world. Back to the topic, dystopia continues to flourish at every turn, as in the reports of Russian soldiers using the famous flirting app Tinder, thus accidentally revealing their position. To flirt with Ukrainian women in the middle of the invasion without thinking, perhaps, that this is the last thing they are interested in. So testified Dasha Synelnikova, a young Ukrainian resident of Kiev who, moved by curiosity, changed the settings of her location on the app to the city of Kharkov and before her eyes began the (military) parade of dozens of profiles of Russian soldiers looking for love between the war, and without hiding the military look to get it. The Ukrainian military intelligence became aware of this phenomenon of "love concentration" in the north of the town, which pointed to some kind of imminent offensive, and even the Kremlin had to intervene to stop this surreal activity.

Another curiosity of these times is provided by Google Maps, which indicated traffic jams on stretches of roads with a strong presence of military convoys. This helped Ukrainian civilians to seek shelter knowing where the invading troops were located. It even went ahead to discover Russia's entry into Ukraine in the early hours of the morning, in anticipation of official reports. This is what The Washington Post assured.

But in this dystopia there is also room for hope, as shown in the viral video published by the Indian journalist Ankita Jain, where several Ukrainian refugee families are shown in what appears to be a kind of bomb bunker. Among them all, a little girl performs the theme song from Disney's Frozen in a very emotional way. The little girl's voice begins to gain the attention of the rest of the adults, who fall silent to listen to her and burst into applause when she finishes. Almost six million reproductions in little more than a day and a totally global reach. Maybe we adults should pay more attention to them (the children), and surely we would not reach the situations we reach and condemn them to live.

March 28, 2022 —

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