ONE of the few things I can admire in Donald Trump, perhaps the only thing, is his mastery of the tweet. We’re roughly the same age, he and I, and here he is practically ruling the world with a social media technology that baffles me.
I have never quite seen the need to subscribe to Twitter. I am simply not interested in the random thoughts of the glitterati — even though 97 million people follow American singer Katy Perry for just those comments. Compare that to President Trump who has a mere 17 million followers.
Even so, I’m more worried about Trump’s 140 characters than I am about Katy Perry.
As one of the older generation who still relies on newspapers and TV and radio reports to find out what is going on in the world, I am increasingly alarmed by news reports which actually quote Trump tweets and the tweet reactions of other world leaders as the initial source of news.
I am reminded of the scenario I used when lecturing in media affairs. A TV newsroom in Australia is discussing content for the nightly news when a staffer rushes in to announce nuclear war has broken out in the northern hemisphere.
“Great”, says the news director. “What vision have we got?”
“Well, nothing. Communication seems to be down.”
“What about a voiceover from the President?”
“Well, no, I don’t think there is a President anymore.”
“OK, no vision – no story. Let’s wait and see whether we get vision tomorrow.”
Trump has been quoted as saying he is the Hemingway of the 140 character message. On winning presidency, he said he would give up his addiction to Twitter which had proved so useful during the campaign — but he hasn’t. He now says that in the face of fake news from the mainstream media who oppose him, he uses Twitter to bring his views to the world untainted. “And my views are important,” he declares.
Trump’s thumb on the smart phone keys is now akin to the presidential finger on the nuclear button.
We have a proxy war with Russia in the Middle East and an escalating social media war with North Korea. My bomb is bigger than your bomb, writes Trump, and I’ll use it.
I’m tempted to subscribe to his Twitter account so that I’ll be among the first to know when he’s used it.