Have we forgotten about the war in Ukraine?


Anatolii Stepanov

Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk region

Maja Cykowska, reporter

Although we seem to be focusing on the most recent news, it’s important to remember that the war in Ukraine is still going on and the situation has not yet improved. The war started 10 months ago after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, 2022. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, and it is now considered one of the largest military conflicts since World War II in 1945. At the beginning, the topic of war attracted a lot of interest; however, as time passed, people lost interest about one of the most important conflicts going on in Eastern Europe.

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine brought concerns in many European countries as well as in other parts of the world. The uncertainty of Russia’s intentions and the danger of the worldwide conflict put Ukraine in the spotlight of the world’s population for a while. With time, the interest in the war in Ukraine decreased drastically, after the situation settled and the intention of Russia didn’t seem to pose a threat for any country other than Ukraine. 

According to Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who were extremely concerned about Russia invading other countries in the region, not just Ukraine, in September was down 18 percentage points since May. The number of people who stopped being concerned about it at all increased 11 percentage points. Those numbers prove just how quickly people tend to lose attention to important issues in our world when they aren’t directly impacted by them.

Many people don’t realize that even though war is currently ongoing in European countries, soldiers are not the only ones participating. The war has caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and wounded many. Some victims immigrated, looking for a way to protect their families, but not all of them had the opportunity. Many are forced to live under constant shelling–hiding in basements and shelters. Their lives completely changed overnight, and now they have to live in constant fear for their lives and the future of their country.

While social media plays an important role in spreading awareness about the war in Ukraine, the amount of information about the war has regularly decreasing since last winter. There are many articles trying to bring attention to the war with headlines such as “Have We Completely Forgotten About The War?” published by popular magazines and platforms. Even so, it’s hard to fight the news fatigue phenomenon. The audience is tired of seeing the same topic in the news night by night.

“It happens with any news coverage of major events, particularly with explosive news and things that are traumatic,” Steinar Ellingsen said, a Norwegian doctor and lecturer at the University of Wollongong.

Similarly, in February we observed high activity of celebrities and individual users on popular platforms like Instagram reposting images or different types of infographics expressing their support to Ukraine. Even though those are kind, small gestures made by thousands of people on social media, they lasted only a few weeks, which made it seem like it was a trend, something people did because everyone else was doing it. And when the issue disappeared from the front pages overlaid by more recent events, the support shown before by individuals gradually disappeared.

“I think there’s a pattern when the news cycle moves on after the first wave, and then particularly the further geographically away from the conflict you are, the quicker the interest pales. With distance, time and resources, and budgets drain very quickly,” Ellingsen said, emphasizing a very short attention span that the audience tends to have.

The war in Ukraine deserves to be given attention by the world. It is one of the most important events happening currently and one that will change our world forever. The war caused massive political changes not in Russia and Ukraine but also evolved into a major political and economic conflict that impacts global stability. For example, the international energy cost is being reshaped on a daily basis since the beginning of the war and a giant increase in inflation has been generated globally.

Most importantly, the war has destroyed and taken away the lives of millions of innocent people. This is why it is necessary for us, as the citizens of the world, to care about these issues because citizens who are aware of global tragedies are more likely to work to develop and build better societies.