Sometimes we must begin from the question, what is there left to say?
What is there left to say about President Trump and Twitter? Not much.
Trump has had a Twitter account since 2009, and has been prolific on it for coming up on a decade. Journalists and many others have been deprecating, lauding, following, hating and obsessing over his presence and content since those early days. But the attention his compulsive social media activity has garnered since his political aspirations came to light and were eventually realized is far more intense, and far more powerful.
Why is it that his use of Twitter specifically has been so effective? Would he be president now if he had developed the same affinity for Facebook? No.
The bottom line of Twitter is the bottom line. Twitter is just enough of a person, cumulatively, to know them. A character limit if you will. And just enough of Trump may be too much for many people, but it was enough to change the social media landscape for the ultimate 1%: other world leaders. And perhaps it was enough to add an irrevocable dimension of populism to the highest office or position of a given country.
Twitter is now a question we ask our world leaders.
The question is not pro or con anymore really. There are so few exemptions, Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping being foremost among them. The question is how much and how well.
Trump did not inspire these people to sign up for twitter. Most of them had signed up well before even the possibility of his political career was a joke. But since a Twitter addict took up residence in the White House, things have changed. Expectations about access have changed.
Other world leaders using Twitter does not make them Trump. But they are probably using Trump’s tool with Trump on their minds.
He is now by many accounts the most powerful man in the world. And decline of US hegemony or not, the US sets a standard that the rest of the world still acknowledges, if not outright follows. So this man’s bad behavior and utter lack of dignity is being broadcast and modeled throughout the world. It’s being written in our history.
Twitter has helped some amazing causes and kept people informed and learning about their world and the incredibly diverse, often brilliant people in it. It’s worth having. But America is too important to have only one man in the chair telling us what he thinks. And that’s exactly what Twitter allows.
In that case, how did a president communicate his opinions to us in the old days? (like a year ago).
There was a team of experienced strategic communication professionals who researched an issue the president cared about or the president should care about. They drafted and revised a careful statement, and issued it to the press, who communicated it to the people.
Social media maybe shortened that process a bit, but not much.
Now? How likely is it that Tweets like this are crafted by a stellar team with decades of experience between them?
This can be, and often is, infuriating. But why does it actually matter?
It’s going to have effects longer than these remaining three years, because other world leaders have been learning from his example.