Going through the news channels in the past couple of weeks has been daunting as more and more information emerges about the atrocities emerging from the Russian-Ukraine conflict. However, it seems as if coverage of the invasion has begun to die down even though Russian aggression has increased. A trend has emerged between American media coverage and large-scale global events due to Americans’ infamously short attention spans, whether they are far from home or knocking right on our doorstep. That’s just the American way. But why?
American media culture has descended from providing reliable worldly news to serving the whims of whatever seems to hold the interest of the public at the moment, whether that be Russia invading Ukraine or the new name of Kylie Jenner’s son. World news has been deemed trivial in light of popular culture defying the bounds of American society, such as Will Smith’s viral Oscar slap that left American media rocked for nearly a week. The distance of the Russian-Ukraine conflict serves the indifference of the American public to the Ukrainians’ predicament as they feel little to no connection to an invasion that has nothing to do with their lives past the initial emotions of shock and horror. The apathy and lack of interest that set in have stemmed from a long history of indifference towards horrific events happening in the United States itself, such as gun violence and rampant racism.
In a world where violence has become habitual, it becomes easy for society to look to the future and move on with their lives. Time and time again the world has watched as the United States hops from movement to movement before discarding it and moving on to the next piece of news as if they are nothing more than social media trends on Instagram. George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police in June 2020 saw American society rally behind the Black Lives Matter movement throughout the rest of the summer. However, as the leaves began to fall, support began to lessen as voices faded and interest decreased in favor of the next controversial topic that has locked our society in a vicious cycle. The issues brought up by the BLM movement only became relevant to the American public with the drama surrounding the 2020 presidential elections as if these issues aren’t running rampant every day versus just during times the media decides to cover them. We have stood as bystanders as the same thing has happened with the crisis in Afghanistan, the Michigan school shooting and the #MeToo Movement. Now, we are watching as the same happens with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. “Don’t forget about Ukraine,” the words spoken by President Volodymyr Zelensky, echoes across deaf ears.
President Zelensky has consistently spoken on behalf of his people during the crisis within his country, begging the world to not forget about his people and their plight. The UN has done little to de-escalate Russian aggression due to the deadlock between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, two of which are Russia and China. While offering their support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people while condemning Russian actions, they can do little to prevent the situation involving the ongoing invasion. As other countries have placed economic sanctions on Russia in the hopes of slowing their aggression, they have also shown little to no enthusiasm for engaging beyond diplomacy with military efforts out of fear of nuclear war. And rightfully so. It falls to the people and media to continue to raise awareness for the issues at hand and the experiences of the Ukrainian people. But how can they achieve this while faced with such a cynical, self-centered society only engaged with news in relation to their own lives?
In the eyes of many, the American public has been falling from the grace of the world as they continue to turn a blind eye toward circumstances unrelated to them. It has only served to shed light on the plague that has infected American media and its need to feed into the American hunger for drama and juicy entertainment to hold their short attention spans rather than coverage of ongoing world events. It’s only when the conflict threatens to affect Americans’ way of life does care for the invasion begin to heighten, such as when gas prices skyrocketed in response to economic sanctions on Russia. American outrage exploded as they were forced to pay an extra dollar, and it was only then did more attention shift to the outcomes of the conflict across the world. As interest in the conflict wanes, so does the Ukranians’ support from those across the world as their country is forgotten and their people ravaged by war. It is up to us to continue our support for the Ukrainian people and their fight against Russian tyranny. We must continue to raise awareness and not forget about the recent series of events to reverse the cruel media cycle we have become entangled in to accentuate our empathy and humanity.
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