Social media plays vital role in Russia-Ukraine conflict, bringing the battlegrounds to locals

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Russia-Ukraine conflict is more than 5,000 miles away, but social media is bringing us to the battlefield.

“We’re seeing war in real time as it happens,” said Political Science CFCC instructor, Nelson Beaulieu. “Through the eyes of citizens who are having to deal with horrific gut wrenching real time decisions.”

Livestreams from overseas have poured into just about every social media platform. Wilmington resident, Hannah McLaurin is an avid Twitter user. She says she’s grown more invested because the videos are fascinating and heartbreaking to watch.

“It makes me feel, I think really sad to see what’s happening,” McLaurin said. “And kind of hopeless too in that there’s not really much I can do about it.”

Sites like Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter are bringing more awareness and investment, but also spurring anxiety.

“My page on Facebook and TikTok, almost every other post revolved around what’s happening in Ukraine and Russia,” said local, Sabrina Sims. “It’s hard to escape. It’s unfolding in front of our eyes and the scariest part is probably the uncertainty of the next step.”

According to Dr. Erika Geisler, Psy.D.,  it’s important to focus on the things we can do to help.

Geisler continued, “Let’s really focus on being in today. Being the best people that we can be. Do your news check ins with a reputable source, but don’t do it too many times in a day.”

Experts say footage from people actually living through the war is holding governments relying on propaganda accountable.

“In 1939 in Germany,” Beaulieu continued, “you saw the Germans stage attacks in Poland to justify warfare. You saw Vladimir Putin and the Russians trying to do that, and It doesn’t work.”

The posts and livestreams humanizing a war half a world away.

“I think it’s made it more personal in a way. Just because you’re seeing real humans describe what they’re going through and you’re not just reading about it.”

Social media is playing a major role in documenting the crisis in Ukraine, just like photography did in the Civil War and television did during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

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