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Surreal news and war

Writing by Megan Howes, artwork by Kate Granholm.

Surreal news and war 

Sometimes looking at the news feels like a surreal daydream. Recently I opened up tiktok to see the CEO of Tiktok being questioned by the American senate wherein every question correlated  to China, despite the man saying he was Singaporean (and considering Tiktok doesn’t exist in China). Seeing clips like this just makes me lose faith in democratic institutes around the world. Politicians on the right have become  steeped in conspiracy theories, so much so that they don’t know how to perform  basic functions of government without making them into some form of conspiracy. 

The constant 24 hour news cycle feels surreal. Getting a news notification about America dropping yet another bomb and wondering if this will be the one that starts the final war. Seeing people on Tiktok making jokes about why they wouldn’t be able to get drafted or survive being a soldier like you aren’t having panic attacks about how brutal things could be if someone dared to retaliate against the US . It almost doesn’t feel right that I can swipe away these notifications, removing them from my phone like they don’t exist, like people haven’t just died as a result of this action that I'm fortunate enough to be able to ignore. But then again, when we can so easily disregard  these notifications, how can you blame people for making jokes about them, for making it seem like they’re not happening, just because our brains have gone numb to the trauma caused by the 24 hour news cycle, and reports of America bombing yet another state, as they’ve done not just since we were born, but well before that too. 

Maybe this dichotomy is made worse by the fact that I study politics full time. The serious part of my brain knows exactly how awfully  this could end, and how quickly a worse case scenario  could come to pass  if even one person too high up were to make the wrong decision. And yet, the silly goofy part of my brain still laughs at the Tiktoks about how brain dead American politicians are, and why I'm too silly and goofy to be a soldier. Somehow the Tiktoks about people being on the front line with their friends is more disturbing than the ones where people talk about why they can’t get drafted. At least when you talk about drafting you’re not entertaining the possibility of fully going to war like it's some kind of game you’d play casually with your mates. No you and your friends would not be playing pranks on each other while on the front line, maybe if you got lucky there’d end up being a football game like there was on Christmas in WW1.

How else are we meant to cope living in a world constantly on the brink of collapse without humour? At least I can feel safe knowing I'm too mentally ill to get drafted…  

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