Digital Resilience in the Area of Hybrid Threats: Perception of Concepts Associated with the Ukrainian Military Conflict by Generation Z in Slovakia

Extreme situations, such as military conflicts, generate interest in how they are perceived by the public, which must process a broad array of media stimuli in a certain way. In this study, we discuss how the basic aspects of the current military conflict (the war in Ukraine) were perceived by young people (Generation Z) in Slovakia, with a focus on the initial part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We argue that the digital resistance of Slovakia’s citizens is currently low, which – in conjunction with the extremely focused activity of the disinformation scene – creates a risky environment. We use the Semantic Selection Test as a psychosemantic method on a sample of Slovak university students. One of our basic findings is the associative closeness of the concept of “Self” in Generation Z and Instagram, popular Internet memes and educational videos in connection with expertise. We also found that the recipients were subject to positive media manipulation (the Ghost of Kyiv) and were able to identify standard linguistic propaganda (negative associations of terms “war in Ukraine” and “special military operation”). The results can help us understand the perception of emergency situations by Generation Z.

digital resilience, disinformation, hybrid threats, semantic maps, special military operation, war in Ukraine