The slacktivist's guide to supporting Ukraine

To cleanse the palate, something new from comedian Ryan Long, whom you’ll remember from December’s “right-wing sponsors vs. left-wing sponsors” video. Today’s clip isn’t as funny but what it lacks in humor it makes up for in truth.

By no means is everyone with a Ukraine flag in their Twitter avatar a mere slacktivist, fleetingly consumed with the cause du jour until the next one tumbles along. But that contingent is out there. And in their desperation to signal group solidarity, they’re getting stupider and pettier:

The world’s richest man, who recently sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine and got a personal phone call from Volodymyr Zelensky as thanks, has also noticed the slacktivist turn online in pro-Ukraine agitation:

Some saw that tweet this morning and wondered it it meant he was turning on the Ukrainian cause. I think the explanation is simpler: Musk is a sh*tposter par excellence and couldn’t resist needling the flag-avatar crowd.

The second tweet references Putin and Ukraine. This is what this guy does with his down time when he’s not running Tesla and overseeing rocket launches.

Part of the reason Ukraine has become the online identity du jour is because Ukrainians themselves have eaten Russia’s lunch in the information war. They were primed to do well on that front because of certain advantages — underdog status against an aggressor, the heroism of Zelensky, the cartoonish malevolence of Vladimir Putin. But no one expected the sort of rout we’ve seen against a propaganda operation as sophisticated as Russia’s.

By all measures, the combination of these efforts have been a stunning success inside Ukraine. This is proven most by the very fact that the Ukrainian state and society didn’t collapse the way Russia hoped would happen in the first few days of fighting. Indeed, besides the rapid swing in Zelenskyy’s polling, surveys also show that now 70 percent of Ukrainians believe that their military is the side that will win the war, despite the real combat power disadvantage and territory losses.

This disparity makes the fronts of the information war essential for Ukraine. No matter the attitudes and bravery of its people, Ukraine only has a chance if it enlists the outside world in its fight. And here, the Ukrainian efforts are winning. Nations as far away as Australia and as surprising as Germany have promised military aid to Ukraine, and once unthinkable levels of financial sanctions have been put into place to squeeze the Russian economy. Indeed, when even Switzerland agrees to join sanctions against you (something it wouldn’t even do to Hitler), you have lost the narrative fight.

I go back and forth on whether it would be to Russia’s advantage or disadvantage to kill Zelensky at this point. He’s probably the only figure in Ukraine who could approve a series of tough concessions to Russia as part of a peace deal and get Ukrainians to accept it. If he’s killed and his successor has to do a deal instead, Ukrainians might reject it as illegitimate and the war could rage on. On the other hand, killing Zelensky would help Russia by removing the central protagonist of Ukraine’s heroic resistance narrative. If you want the world to lose interest in this story, get rid of the main character. I hope his security detail is staying on its toes. Here’s Long.