The president tweeted “Happy Mother’s Day,” and Twitter exploded.
Well, actually, there was a bit more to it than that:
Trump was up early on Sunday morning and active on Twitter. Starting around 7 a.m., he retweeted posts about his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden — the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential election. Trump shared a number of conspiracy theories about the past administration, retweeting dubious claims on his official Twitter account. He then returned to the more urgent matter of the coronavirus pandemic, posting a handful of tweets about that before finishing with his Mother’s Day well-wishes.
I looked through the president’s tweets. There was really nothing there that would have drawn much attention had he still been Donald J. Trump, private citizen and real estate mogul. There was partisan snark, of course; but nothing over-the-top.
But President Trump is no longer a private citizen. He is President Trump.
The president needs to rethink his approach to Twitter and social media. The very environment of Twitter is one of snark, sarcasm, and vitriol.
I stay away from Twitter because I know (based on experience), that given ten minutes and a few exchanges with the Twitter peanut gallery, I’m going to make a jackass of myself.
Most online interaction with strangers is like that. I realized long ago that it brings out the worst in everyone (including yours truly) and I avoid it.
I don’t comment on Facebook news stories, either. I haven’t made a comment on YouTube for at least 5 years.
Notice that there are no comment threads on this site for the musings of the types of Internet denizens that online comment threads reliably attract. I know—from having spent 20+ years on the Internet—that nothing good ever comes from open comment threads.
That is especially true on a site like this one. This site covers a wide range of topics. It therefore draws a lot of random, drive-by traffic. I know that responding to random, snarky Internet comments would not bring out the best in me.
The president seems to lack such basic self-awareness at times.
His habit of talking too much, and without filters, isn’t limited to the Internet. President Trump’s daily COVID-19 press conferences have long since become torturous slogs.
The press enjoys trying to trip up the president with stupid, overtly hostile questions. The president enjoys baiting a captive audience of unfriendly reporters. But there is no real point to any of it.
Nor is there much point to at least half of President Trump’s frequent Twitter posts. I understand his desire to communicate directly with the public. (CNN has, indeed, degenerated into “fake news” in recent years.)
But Twitter is almost certainly not the best way for any president to communicate with the world—and definitely not the best way for this one.