Essay by Matt Leighninger: “This is a new kind of war, waged by a new kind of citizen.
The failure of the Russian forces to subdue Ukraine quickly has astonished experts, officials, and journalists worldwide. It shouldn’t. The Ukrainian resistance is just the latest example of the new attitudes and abilities of 21st century citizens.
While social media has been getting a lot of attention in this “TikTok War,” the real story is the growing determination and capacity of ordinary people. Around the world, ordinary people are fundamentally different from people of generations past. They have dramatically higher levels of education, far less deference to authority figures, and much greater facility with technology.
These trends have changed citizenship itself. We need to understand this shift so that societies, especially democratic ones, can figure out how to adapt, both in war and peace.
The war in Ukraine is instructive, in at least four ways.
First, citizens now have the ability to make their own media; Ukrainians, under attack, are mass-producing reality TV. Thanks to footage produced by thousands of people and viewed by millions, the war has a constantly unfolding cast of characters. Ukrainian farmers towing Russian vehicles, a soldier moonwalking in a field, people joyriding on a captured Russian tank, and a little girl singing “Let It Go” in a Kiev bomb shelter have become relatable, inspiring figures in the conflict. Seemingly every time Ukrainians have success on the battlefield, they upload videos of burned tanks and downed planes…(More)”.