Using only a phone, Zelenskiy is trading in that most human of qualities: hope | Gaby Hinsliff

In Ukraine, horror is mingled with stories of inspiration – and every night that Kyiv holds out feels like a miracleWake up, roll over, check the phone for news from Kyiv. It’s becoming a habit now, a strange new morning routine, and not just for journalists whose working days have long dawned like this. Millions are now following this war in real time on social media, immersed in it more intimately and personally than ever before. If the advent of 24-hour rolling TV news brought audiences at home closer to faraway conflicts, subtly changing our understanding of them, then smartphones have put war right into the palms of our hands. Doomscrolling is becoming an addiction, although doom seems the wrong word for a conflict where horror mingles with so many stories of hope and inspiration; stories with the shimmering qualities of modern myths, viral and unforgettable, if not always instantly verifiable, and often helpfully translated into English.The young Ukrainian sapper said to have heroically blown himself up along with the bridge he was charged with destroying in order to slow the Russian advance. The villagers filmed courageously standing in front of tanks. The female MPs posting pictures of themselves training to use rifles, and the soldiers of Snake Island greeting demands for their surrender with the now famous response: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.” (Like a new No pasarán, that slogan is everywhere; splashed on T-shirts sold in aid of Ukrainian charities, even iced on cookies sold by a Texas bakery.) And then there is the tale of how President Volodymyr Zelenskiy supposedly rebuffed an American offer to whisk him to safety with the words “I need ammunition, not a ride.” War has transformed a former comic actor once mocked for his hamminess into an iconic leader for the times whose powerfully emotive short videos posted from beneath his bombed capital seem made for sharing: a real-life Scheherazade, telling captivating tales to the world in the hope of keeping his countrymen alive for one more night.Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist Continue reading…

In Ukraine, horror is mingled with stories of inspiration – and every night that Kyiv holds out feels like a miracle

Wake up, roll over, check the phone for news from Kyiv. It’s becoming a habit now, a strange new morning routine, and not just for journalists whose working days have long dawned like this. Millions are now following this war in real time on social media, immersed in it more intimately and personally than ever before. If the advent of 24-hour rolling TV news brought audiences at home closer to faraway conflicts, subtly changing our understanding of them, then smartphones have put war right into the palms of our hands. Doomscrolling is becoming an addiction, although doom seems the wrong word for a conflict where horror mingles with so many stories of hope and inspiration; stories with the shimmering qualities of modern myths, viral and unforgettable, if not always instantly verifiable, and often helpfully translated into English.

The young Ukrainian sapper said to have heroically blown himself up along with the bridge he was charged with destroying in order to slow the Russian advance. The villagers filmed courageously standing in front of tanks. The female MPs posting pictures of themselves training to use rifles, and the soldiers of Snake Island greeting demands for their surrender with the now famous response: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.” (Like a new No pasarán, that slogan is everywhere; splashed on T-shirts sold in aid of Ukrainian charities, even iced on cookies sold by a Texas bakery.) And then there is the tale of how President Volodymyr Zelenskiy supposedly rebuffed an American offer to whisk him to safety with the words “I need ammunition, not a ride.” War has transformed a former comic actor once mocked for his hamminess into an iconic leader for the times whose powerfully emotive short videos posted from beneath his bombed capital seem made for sharing: a real-life Scheherazade, telling captivating tales to the world in the hope of keeping his countrymen alive for one more night.

Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist

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