Frontline: Twitter’s redemption
By Anna Edlund
Opinions of the Editorial Board
It’s been a busy week if you’ve been keeping up with President-elect Donald Trump.
Continuing confirmations for Trump’s cabinet picks have been met with vicious dissent. Women’s marches across the country are gaining momentum. Not to forget the wild swings at respected civil rights activist and politician John Lewis just days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day that were offensive at best, and downright insulting at worst.
Through it all, the soon-to-be leader of the U.S. let his thoughts be known to all on Twitter.
There is understandable appeal in a newly elected politician using social media to reach constituents. Bypass the press, speak directly to the people, appeal to young voters. It makes sense, it really does. But the way in which Trump utilizes it comes off as childish and boorish.
Trump’s ramblings are only one example of the way Twitter is being used. In stark contrast to our President-elect’s use of social media comes the rise of “clicktivism.” Though the word has been used degradingly to describe online activists, grassroots movements starting online have become a force for change in our increasingly digital world.
Take for example what is arguably the most fast-growing social justice movement of the past few years — Black Lives Matter. Propelled by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and subsequent acquittal of shooter George Zimmerman, #blacklivesmatter became a hashtag, then a warcry. Then a movement. It is undeniable that social media played a massive role in its take-off.
Even in the face of tragedy, people turned to social media as an outlet. #prayforparis and #jesuisparis were ways for those who may not have been directly affected by the Nov. 13, 2015 shooting in Paris to show support, solidarity and empathy.
Solidarity marches are being organized through Facebook events. Local organizations spread awareness and resources via social media. Hashtags publicize outrage at injustice. It may not feel like much, but at times, it’s enough.
Social media is a tool. It is an effective way to spread information and speak to millions of people instantly with ease. But the time of this tool being used to convey actually meaningful dialogue from our president-elect is long gone. Now it seems that President-elect Trump’s use of Twitter has been relegated to nothing more than a loudmouthed soapbox for disjointed accusations.
Don’t give those who spew negativity attention online by following or retweeting whatever flavor-of-the-day vitriol they share. Hell, turn off your TVs on Inauguration Day. For once, leave Trump with a silent echoing chamber for him to talk into. Every move he makes will be covered and dissected by pundits nationwide anyway. The best we can do is take a little bit of negative attention away and channel it elsewhere.