Today, more than ever, it is clear that social media has the power to spread awareness of causes and issues that deserve recognition. 

Generating a vast reach, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become vital tools for connecting people across the world. From being a powerful force in helping promote advances in medicine and science, to fighting against oppression and injustice, to helping spread information about natural disasters or civil unrest, social media has proven its usefulness.

How it all started

Take, for instance, Ukrainian resident Valeria Shashenok. She was 20 years old and just getting her career started as a videographer and photographer. She freelanced for some of Ukraine’s biggest businesses, including hotels and restaurants. 

Suddenly, her employment prospects, and the environment around her, were turned to dust with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She never dreamed that she’d soon be creating social media content about the war.

When missiles hit her hometown on February 24, Shashenok could not believe what was happening. “I didn’t believe war could actually happen,” she says. “I thought it was a joke,” she added—until she and her family had to rush into a windowless bunker at her father’s office.

Shashenok has been sharing TikTok videos from a bunker. She shares the small space with her parents, their dog, and another displaced family. She never planned on being there that long, but she’s been in the bunker for weeks now. It’s her home away from home and a place where she can draw inspiration as she shares her journey with others.

When she feels safe, she occasionally leaves her bunker to document the destruction in her neighborhood and grab clothes from her house, which has not been bombed like those of her friends. “Near my house, buildings are all destroyed. One of the reasons I go outside (even if it’s unsafe) was because I wanted to show people from another country,” she stated.

Valeria Shashenok’s videos raise awareness all around the world

Her videos have attracted millions of views and hundreds of thousands of followers in two weeks. Although she’s amassed a huge following, Shashenok remains fearful for her country’s future. However, her main concern right now is making sure her family has enough to eat and drink. She revealed that there’s a shortage of water at the supermarket. Shashenok said her family has survived mostly on eggs and milk but that these items are often sold out as well.