January 17. 2017
I tried Twitter for a few months back in 2012. I had always wondered what people could possibly be saying that others could possibly care about hearing. I managed 11 tweets. These were my two of my best:
Consider the word “consider.” Would you rather be thought of as considered, considerate, or considerable?
Jellyfish, high tide, and tourists coming into the harbor. One bobs, one seeps, one takes pictures without actually looking.
Ugh. What was I thinking? Okay, maybe the second one is mildly thought-provoking, but remember, these were the two best. Here’s one that was definitely not going viral:
Waiting at the airport for my sis. Listened to a lecture on Voltaire, wrote a villanelle. Now what to do …
Embarrassing. Who was following me? Probably friends who were saying to themselves: Matt needs another medium. Anyway, like I said, my career in tweeting did not last long. But others’ careers in tweeting have flourished, of course, and Twitter has emerged both as a periodically important social force and as a maddeningly pointless distraction dancing around the edges of sports and political broadcasts.
So the big question is, Would Abraham Lincoln have used Twitter, and if so, would he somehow have managed to transcend the medium and retain his eloquence? First, I don’t think he would have touched Twitter with a ten-foot Kentucky rail. But second, if he had, he probably could not have been so eloquent … then again, the Gettysburg Address is pretty darn short. The man could say a lot in 140 characters. Let’s see:
Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy.
That’s only 66.
In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed.
That’s only 115.
I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me.
That one’s a little long: 143. Get rid of a couple of the stylistic “or”s, and he’s good.
This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
157. See? Twitter might just have been a touch too confining for Mr. Lincoln to say what was really in his mind and his heart.
Now you knew where this was going from the beginning, right? When I first became aware of Donald Trump’s tweets during the campaign, I couldn’t help but see them as just another accessory in his perfectly constructed clown outfit. Now they are leading the news cycle, conducting the fickle music of Wall Street, and altering world politics. They are also, quite simply, leading this man to infamy.
Infamy is the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed. Every day we get a new brick in the great wall of Donald Trump’s infamy. He threatens, he rails against the press, he demeans people for their appearance or beliefs, he lies. He shows the world—and future historians—how petty he is, how fragile is his ego, how he can’t take a joke, how he has no taste, how he’s a bully, and how sexist and racist he really is. I fully believe Mr. Trump’s tweets come straight from his heart, and they show what a twisted, vindictive shell of a thing that heart is.
The President-Elect’s recent tweet about Congressman John Lewis that ended with
All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!
Just showed, once again, that this man is both despicable and hopelessly disconnected from reality. If there is one person in the United States for whom that sentiment is more wrong, I don’t know who it is. Take any ten minutes of John Lewis’s life, and you’ll see more talk backed up with action—at least valorous action—than Donald Trump has demonstrated in his entire life. One good thing about this tweet: if Donald Trump keeps ending his tweets with the word “Sad,” we might get the idea that it’s his way of signing his name.
As President, his tweets will continue to demonstrate the twin pillars—vileness and sophistry—in Donald Trump’s monument to himself, a monument to the least qualified, most morally vacuous person to ever take the oath of office. I hope he keeps up the tweets. In fact, I hope they come faster and more full of incoherent vitriol. Every tweet just gets him closer to the fate he most fears: utter and complete illegitimacy.
Tweet your way into history, Donald. Infamy is what awaits you.