Trump wasn’t the first president to harness the power of social media, but he certainly has perfected the art. He tweets and the nation laments, “why does he tweet?”
But to Trump, tweeting is his way of being human, not necessarily a person who is simplistically obsessed with the power of the presidency. He tweets because it allows him to remain “with the people,” assuming you follow him on Twitter because you want to hear what he has to say.
It’s the perfect mechanism by which this man can be in personal communication with every single person who supports him. But the truth is people who do not like the president also read his tweets, and that is the cause for the confusion.
If you take an outrageous talk show host like say, Rachel Maddow or Michael Savage and you tell others these hosts are “toxic,” and filled with “hate-speech” (because you oppose their point of view) naturally the first impulse is to want to shut them down because you oppose what they say. But we have to remember that there is no conflict between Trump and his followers on social media. The conflict is with the people who don’t like Trump and therefore, we would expect never-Trumpers to be offended. Except that his Tweets aren’t meant fo you.
Back to the Maddow and Rush. The majority of the people who connect with these hosts have similar views and are immune to the same reaction experienced by those who oppose them, so there is no conflict. This is an important caveat and it explains why Trump thinks it is perfectly appropriate to tweet to his “followers,” his supporters, really.
And that is why Trump tweets.
Any future president not using social media the way President Trump does would be a fool. Trump is many things, but he truly understands media and how to use it and manipulate it to his gain. Many great careers have sprang from Trump, (Colbert, MSNBC, Don Lemon, an SNL Revival, etc.) and these people know it. Conflict is good for the press, for the media and especially as a tool in negotiating, so I believe Trump should receive credit for knowing how to expertly use the media, including his very specific tweets
The tweet is mightier than the sword.
James Watkins is the host of Candidly Speaking, a weekly podcast.