From I Can Has Cheezburger? to 21 Savage actually being British, the humble meme has been designed to make us laugh, nay guffaw in ecstasy. Was there no greater visceral thrill than successfully Rickrolling your mate in high school? What is a mum if not someone to waft her face with her hands, tears streaming down her cheeks, after stumbling upon a Minion meme about washing the dishes? Have we not all been pushin’ 🅿️ for the better part of 2022?

But in the wise words of Shania Twain: she’s not just a pretty face. Memes inform us. Twitter heads will remember following the Ever Given saga — the ship that brought global trade to its knees when it blocked the Suez Canal — via meme, as well as the ludicrous display that was rabid Trump stans storming The Capitol.

Parallel parking your 220,000-tonne ship in a tiny canal and cheerfully stealing a lectern during an attempted coup are both objectively funny events, though. This begs the question: are there limits to what we can meme? Like war, senseless death and human suffering? Or Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, perhaps?

If you’ve scrolled through TikTok or Twitter lately, you may have noticed some people memeing pretty close to the sun when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Getting drafted to fight is a big one and Russian king Hasbulla has also made a few guest appearances.

@sosagetjiggy Why are women like this, wish me luck or something #fypシ #viral #trend ♬ cant be friends trey songz – jay😽

@eggnoh #stitch with @izzicr #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Eleanor Hsiun

Provisional psychologist Sang Pham says distance plays a part in whether or not we pull the piss.

“Tragic events are difficult to acknowledge but are less challenging when they’re further removed from our lives, and when their impacts have never been known to us beyond history texts and online media,” he says.

Given that Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 to 60 are banned from leaving the country and our Federal Government has confirmed Australian troops won’t be sent over to fight, some are finding the jokes a tad thoughtless.

Although many of us are detached from the situation, Pham says humour is still an important coping mechanism when dealing with tragedy.

“If faced with the very willing choice between lamenting over the countless daily horrors we may or may not be privy to or making it a thing to laugh about, what would we choose?” he says.

“We joke to invoke joy but humour has the potential to be heavily indiscriminate, particularly in a social context, and in that lies its power.

“Why take the brunt of confronting tragedy when we can simply repurpose it as online content?”

Humour stays winning, lads. It’s important to note that just because you tweet about your regret in having to kill Hasbulla, it doesn’t make you a shitty ass person. In fact, Pham says: “One would be hard-pressed to determine another person’s integrity based on what they find humour in.” Instead, a judgement of their character as a whole is required, as well as their “ability to sideline their empathy in the name of comedy”. But even then, it’s hard to say what’s driving them: are they truly intent on inciting violence or are they simply goofing around, making inconsequential memes on the World Wide Web to score some likes?

In saying this, don’t be a dickhead Icarus and fly too close to the sun; the edgy reply guy is one meme that’s a certified flop.

Isabella Corbett is a freelance writer who loves reality TV, fashion and making her silly little jokes on Twitter. You can follow her tweets here and follow her on Instagram here