On TikTok, Valeria Shashenok goes by the handle Valerisssh.
There, the 20-year-old Ukrainian photographer is churning out some very important content.
Like others using their platforms to speak on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Valeria is doing the same.
But she’s in Ukraine, documenting her everyday life as she and her family live in a bomb shelter while Chernihiv is bombed and shelled.
Past wars and atrocities have often been documented by grainy news cameras, museum pieces, and letters sent home by soldiers.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24, is being recorded by millions of cameras.
History will remember the horror of this war zone through the eyes of countless Ukrainians as they record and upload the nightmare that they are living.
20-year-old Valeria Shashenok was a photographer long before one egomaniacal madman decided to start bombing the cities of his sovereign neighbor.
Still in Ukraine with her family, she has been using her skills with a camera and knowledge of social media to help in her own way.
Utilizing TikTok’s infamous algorithm and her camera, she’s making the world painfully aware of what life is like in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
Valeria is not as unfortunate as some when it comes to Ukrainians in cities besieged by Russian forces.
We don’t mean that we envy her or the tens of millions of others caught in this living hell.
Instead, we mean that she and her family were able to take shelter in a bunker.
The below-ground bomb shelter documents her day-to-day life, often with deliberately ironic music choices.
It is always important for people to find moments of levity even as their world as they know it is ending.
In the case of Valeria’s videos, the cheerful facade contrasts perfectly with the devastation that she sees every time that she goes above ground for supplies.
“My Typical Day In A Bomb Shelter” is just one video, which has amassed tens of millions of views in just four days.
That is a larger viewership footprint than the vast majority of news broadcasts.
Social media has its flaws, TikTok especially, but in this case, Valeria’s videos are reaching and informing a lot of people during a crisis.
The thing is that Valeria’s life isn’t necessarily “exciting” on a day-to-day basis.
She is living in a bunker with her parents and the family dog.
During the day, they emerge to gather supplies, including to collect things from their house.
Emerging from their shelter also gives them the opportunity to survey the damage done to their city.
Once familiar buildings are now uninhabitable, visibly destroyed by bombs and shelling.
This is a rare view of the day-to-day life of a person living in a war zone that most of us pray to never see first hand in our lives.
The people of Ukraine have been putting up a courageous fight for two weeks, offering far more resistance than expected.
Tragically, the Russian response has not been to reconsider, but to escalate attacks upon civilians and population centers, trading tactics for terror.
With the rest of the world unwilling to directly confront an increasingly unstable Vladimir Putin for fear of global nuclear war, the global response has been indirect.
Right now, this horrible invasion can only be recalled by Russia, which seems unlikely to happen unless Putin is removed from power.
In the mean time, supplying Ukraine with humanitarian aid and military supplies is only part of what the rest of the world can do.
It is vital that countries accept Ukrainian refugees, whose numbers will only grow as the war continues. Not even Valeria’s family’s shelter can guarantee safety forever.